Abdominal Tightness

October 2017

Question:

I have had my ostomy since surgery Nov. 2015. For the last 6 months to a year I feel that I have a tight belt around my stomach. I’m not constipated and I don’t have a blockage. Is this normal? No pain, just very uncomfortable. It’s not the belt because I’ve loosened it a lot.

Reponse:

Are you running a fever? If so, call your physician immediately.

Tightness in the abdomen for a few weeks post surgery, is not unusual. Initially you will find it difficult to walk upright. This usually disapates within 4 to 8 weeks post-surgery. As you have had your surgery in 2015, this would not be the case.

Another common cause of tightness and/or side pain in people with an ostomy is a hernia, (parastomal hernia). A hernia occurs when a muscle in the abdominal wall tears, and intestines bulge through the tear, sometimes forming a lump under the skin. Because the stoma itself is an opening in the abdominal wall, the likelihood of a tear occurring and causing a hernia increases.

Surgery to deal with the initial intestinal issue and the creation of an ostomy is invasive and extensive, therefore there is a tendency to “load” adjacent tissues, which is then experienced as tightness in some people.

I recommend that you make an appointment and have a consultation with an Enterostomal Therapy (ET) Nurse for an assessment.

(An Enterostomal Therapy (ET) Nurse is a registered nurse with advanced and specialized knowledge and clinical skills in wound, ostomy and continence care. Recognized as Nursing Specialists in wound, ostomy and continence by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), ET Nurses are the ONLY nursing specialty with CNA certification in wound, ostomy and continence care. ET Nurses work in acute care hospitals, outpatient clinics, community care, long term care and in independent practice. An ET nurse provides specialized holistic assessment and management as part of an interprofessional team member. He/she functions to meet the needs of individuals/families with ostomies, acute and chronic wounds and urinary and fecal continence problems.)

To find an ET Nurse in your region, an excellent reference guide is provided by the WOCN (Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society), on this website.

Go to “SUPPORT” located at the top navigational bar on this website and click. A pop down menu will appear, locate and click “FIND AN ET NURSE”, you will be automatically transferred to a page, now simply follow the easy instructions.