The effect of visceral manipulation on Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA): A case series

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2021 Apr:26:471-480. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2020.06.007. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


Background: Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is a condition that affects many postpartum and older women, often due to pregnancy-related issues and heavy lifting. Published research on nonsurgical DRA treatment has primarily focused on exercise to correct or prevent this dysfunction. A survey of women's health physical therapists identified that visceral manipulation and other interventions are utilized to treat DRA. No literature exists to identify the specifics of visceral manipulation or its effect on DRA.

Study design: This case series is a retrospective chart review of three female patients with DRA who received visceral manipulation.

Case description: The ages of the patients were 33, 37, 39 years old and all were positive for DRA based on inter-rectus distance (IRD) described as greater than two finger-width measurements at one of three measurement sites. Patients presented with chief complaints of low back pain, abdominal pain, and vulvar burning and itching. All women were gravida two and para two. Each patient received at least four treatments of visceral manipulation (VM).

Outcomes: VM decreased the IRD, decreased numeric pain rating scores, and improved functional activities in three women with DRA. Improvements were also seen in bladder and bowel symptoms.

Discussion: Four treatments of visceral manipulation appear to be effective in decreasing DRA measurements in three women. DRA measurements improved to two finger-widths or less above, at, and below the umbilicus. The changes remained stable for six to sixteen months.

Keywords: Inter-rectus distance (IRD); Jejunoileum; Parietal peritoneum; Visceral manipulation (VM).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diastasis, Muscle*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Retrospective Studies