International Adhesions Society





A Patient's Guide to Adhesions & Related Pain

Dr. David Wisemanor...YOU ARE NOT ALONE

by David M. Wiseman, Ph.D., M.R.Pharm.S.

[This article was written in 1998 and we wish to preserve its essence as originally conceived. Accordingly, some information and links may be out of date. Please consult updated information located elsewhere on our website.]

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Chronic pelvic pain and/or associated intestinal disturbance are a major cause of misery for thousands of patients.  Often in constant pain, the patient experiences loneliness, hopelessness, frustration and desperation with thoughts of suicide.  Family and work relationships are strained to the limit.  Although ADHESIONS are often (but not always) the cause of this pain, treatment for adhesions is not performed either because the surgeon does not believe that adhesions can cause the problem, or because lysis of adhesions is considered too difficult or futile.

Adhesions are an almost inevitable outcome of surgery, and the problems that they cause are widespread and sometimes severe.  It has been said by some that adhesions are the single most common and costly problem related to surgery, and yet most people have not even heard the term.  This lack of awareness means that, excluding infertility, many doctors are unable or unwilling to tackle the problems of adhesions, many insurance companies are unwilling to pay for treatment and many patients are left in misery.

This paper describes adhesions, their treatment and their relationship to pain and bowel obstruction.  In addition, stories from patients are featured to illustrate how adhesions (or suspected adhesions) affect their daily lives and how they cope with a sometimes-insurmountable problem.

A key lesson and source of comfort for patients with this problem is that they are not alone and the importance of mutual support among patients cannot be underestimated.

There are no easy answers as yet.  In drawing attention to the human side of this problem, we hope to (begin to) educate patients and doctors about the range of treatments available, be they of a medical, surgical or psychological nature.  In addition, the establishment of a group to provide support and information to adhesions sufferers is proposed.

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