Abdominal Muscle Strain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Abdominal Muscle Strain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

What is Abdominal Muscle Strain?

This is an injury that damages the internal structure of the abdominal muscles. Strains are marked by rips or tears to a muscle. Most of the time, these rips or tears are tiny. They may cause some discomfort. When the damaged parts of the muscle pull away from each other, it is called a rupture.

Abdominal Muscle Strain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

The abdominal wall is made up of several muscles. These include:

  • Rectus Abdominis: the muscle over the front of the belly-this muscle give people a "six-pack" appearance when the rectus is well developed.
  • Internal and External Oblique: the obliqes wrap around the sides of the body.

Causes of Abdominal Muscle Strain

This condition is caused by an overexertion of the abdominal muscle, which can happen when:

  • Doing an activity that the muscle is not ready for
  • Exercising excessively
  • Improperly performing exercises or sports activities
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Sharply twisting the body

Risk Factors  of Abdominal Muscle Strain

These factors increase your chance of developing abdominal muscle strain:

  • Not stretching properly before exercising
  • Overexerting muscles
  • Performing exercises and sports activities incorrectly (especially running and jumping)
  • Having weak back muscles
  • Being fatigued
  • Participating in vigorous activity
  • Exercising in cold weather
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.

Symptoms of an Abdominal Muscle Strain

Abdominal muscle strains usually cause immediate pain in the area of the injured muscle. It can be hard to flex the muscle because of this pain. The other common symptom is muscle spasm of the injured muscle. Less commonly, swelling and brusing can result from the muscle injury.

Abdominal muscle strains are graded according to the severity of the injury:

  • Grade I (Mild): Mild discomfort, often no disability. Usually does not limit activity.
  • Grade II (Moderate): Moderate discomfort, can limit ability to perform activities such as crunches or twisting movements.
  • Grade III (Severe): Severe injury that can cause pain with normal activities. Often patients complain of muscle spasm and bruising.

How to Diagnose Abdominal Muscle Strain

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. During the physical exam, she will look for:

  • Tenderness over the area of the muscle
  • Pain, especially when the muscle is contracted
The doctor will grade the strain depending on how badly injured you are:

  • First degree-muscle fibers are injured; 2-3 weeks to recover
  • Second degree-a larger amount of muscle fibers are injured; 3-6 weeks to recover
  • Third degree-the muscle is ruptured, may require surgery; about 3 months to recover

How to Treat Abdominal Muscle Strain

After the injury, stop the activity right way.

Rest as needed.

Apply a cold pack for 15-20 minutes. Apply ice four times a day for 1-2 days.

Take pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These can also help to reduce swelling.

Begin gentle stretching when pain subsides.

If you do not improve in 1-2 days, call your doctor.

Ask your doctor when you can return to normal activity.

When you are feeling better, do exercises to slowly regain strength.

Use heat when returning to activity.

How to Prevent Abdominal Muscle Strain

To help reduce your chance of getting this condition, take the following steps:

  • Stretch before exercising and cool down after.
  • Do not overexert yourself while exercising.
  • Get proper training for sports and exercises.
  • Do exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Work with a personal trainer or physical therapist.
  • Learn how to properly lift heavy objects.
  • If you are tired, stop exercising.
If you have a fever and abdominal pain, seek medical attention right away.