Inflammation (swelling), surgery, or injury can cause adhesions to form almost anywhere in the body, including:
In joints such as the shoulder
In the eyes
Inside the abdomen or pelvis
Once they form, adhesions can become larger or tighter over time. Symptoms or other problems may occur if the adhesions cause an organ or body part to twist, pull out of position, or be unable to move as well.
The risk of forming adhesions is high after bowel or female organ surgeries. Surgery using a laparoscope is less likely than open surgery to cause adhesions.
Other causes of adhesions in the abdomen or pelvis:
Appendicitis, most often when the appendix breaks open (ruptures)
Surgery may be done to separate the adhesions. This often allows normal movement of the organ and reduces the symptoms caused by the adhesion. However, the risk for more adhesions increases as the number of surgeries increases.
Depending on the location of the adhesions, at the time of surgery a barrier can be placed to try to reduce the chance of the adhesions returning.
Paine R. Rehabilitation and therapeutic modalities: a language of exercise and rehabilitation. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2009:chap 5 section A.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.