Abdominal Muscle Spasms Causes, Symptoms, Complication, Treatment, Prevention

Abdominal Muscle Spasms Causes, Symptoms, Complication, Treatment, Prevention

What Are Abdominal Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms in the stomach are known as abdominal muscle spasms, or abdominal rigidity. The spasms are involuntary contractions of the muscles in your abdomen. When in spasm, muscles will feel tender and stiff. The muscles of the abdomen are often used during exercise, stabilizing the trunk, and as a result, these muscles can become strained. Muscle strain is a common cause of spasms, which is why athletes need to warm up before doing anything too strenuous.

There are some factors that are responsible for muscle spasm. Strenuous activities of the athletes can result this problem when the muscles are injured or even overused. If you want to move very fast or even if your sleep in the cramped position, then you can experience abdominal muscle spasm. Prolonged sitting or even low level of minerals is some common reason of abdominal muscles spasms.

Abdominal muscle spasms, especially when related to a known cause such as strenuous exercise, are usually not serious. However, because abdominal muscle spasm can sometimes indicate a serious disorder, you should contact your health care provider if you have any spasm that appears unrelated to overexertion or if an exercise-induced spasm does not stop quickly.

Seek immediate medical care if you have abdominal muscle spasms that are severe or if you experience persistent abdominal muscle spasms along with any of the following symptoms: green or bloody vomit; blood in the stool or urine; continuous severe pain in one area, especially below the navel or just below the ribs; chest pain; confusion; high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit); or shortness of breath.

Causes of Abdominal Muscle Spasms

Overworked muscles

Unfamiliar exercise or frequent strenuous activity can cause the abdominal muscles to spasm. This happens because the muscle is being overused, resulting in the muscle's energy loss . This loss of energy causes it to contract suddenly, resulting in muscle spasms. This contraction of the muscle may involve the muscle in totality or only a specific part of it. People who are more at risk of developing muscle spasms due to this reason are athletes, an individual who exercises frequently or has just started exercising, or someone in an occupation that requires vigorous exertion such as construction workers. The exercise that will most likely cause abdominal muscle spasms to manifest is crunches or sit-ups. A muscle can also become overworked with normal daily activities such as shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or raking grass.


If the muscles are depleted in water and electrolytes, muscle spasms can occur. This is because proteins in the muscles require a certain amount of water, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. When these substances are low, their normal function becomes abnormal, which sometimes results in abdominal muscle spasms.

Kidney Stones

This is an abnormal mass that is present in either the kidneys or urinary tract. This mass is comprised of hard crystalline mineral material. There are a number of factors that contribute to the formation of a kidney stone. These include a decrease in urine volume, excess in a specific substance in the urine, and dehydration. Kidney stones can cause severe pain in the abdomen, back, or groin. This sporadic pain may feel like cramps or muscle spasms. This means the severity of the pain will change frequently, being mild at one instance while unbearable at the next. Other accompanying symptoms include nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, difficulties urinating, penile pain, and testicular pain.

Black widow spider bite

A bite from this highly venomous spider can cause abdominal muscle spasms. The first sign of a bite will be the actual bite itself. Given the severe pain induced by this bite, you will be aware of its presence. The other symptoms will manifest in 20-60 minutes after the bite has occurred. The spider's venom affects the victim's nervous system, which results in severe muscle cramps or spasms in the abdomen, shoulder, or back. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and weakness sometimes follow. The severity of the spider bite reaction is dependent upon the victim's age and health. Children and the elderly are more at risk of developing a severe reaction to the spider's venom.


The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that has the function of regulating metabolism hormones. Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid that is not producing enough hormones. Muscle spasms, aches, and tenderness are symptomatic of this medical condition. Other symptoms include fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to the cold, pale skin, hoarse voice, weight gain, brittle nails, and depression. If abdominal muscle spasms coincide with any of these symptoms, then you may have hypothyroidism.

Other more rare causes of abdominal muscle spasms are diverticulitis, intussusception, hernia, cholecystitis, and bowel obstruction. Major potential problems include bowel obstructions, alcohol abuse, or a perforated bowel.

Symptoms of Abdominal Muscle Spasms

The accompanying symptoms of abdominal muscle spasms will depend upon the underlying cause. Below we have listed some common symptoms:

Change in bowel movements

This can be either with constipation or diarrhea. Constipation occurs when there is difficulty with emptying the bowels due to abnormally hard feces. Alternatively, diarrhea occurs when feces are ejected frequently and commonly in liquid form. Your abdominal muscle spasms may accompany one or both of these bowel abnormalities.


This is a sensation in your chest that resembles burning. It most commonly affects the chest area, but can also manifest in the neck, throat, and even face. This burning sensation is caused by stomach acid entering the esophagus. The condition worsens when bending or lying down, thus you may experience it during exercise.


This feeling of sickness may occur with or without actual vomiting. If you do vomit, then that is considered an additional symptom.

Abdominal pain

This is a rather ambiguous symptom, experienced in a variety of ways for a number of reasons. The abdominal pain may be acute or chronic, localized or diffused, sharp or dull. There are many different characteristics of abdominal pain, and the way you experience it will depend upon what is causing your abdominal muscle spasms.

Chest pain

This is similar to abdominal pain in the sense that it can be felt in a number of different ways, acute or chronic, a tightness or pressure, etc. This Cardiopulmonary symptom may manifest with your muscle spasms during exercise.

Change in respiration

This may be either with a shortness of breath or Tachypnea (rapid breathing). A shortness of breath after physical exertion such as exercise is quite common, but when it happens at rest there may be a serious underlying condition. If your shortness of breath is just a side effect of routine exercise, it should dissipate after a few minutes of rest. Tachypnea is when the normal rate of respiration significantly increases.


It is characterized by a body temperature over 100°F and may be accompanied by sweating, shivering, or delirium.

Other symptoms that are rarely experienced with muscle spasms are blood in the stool or urine, a bulge/growth in the abdomen or groin, and fainting.

What are the potential complications of abdominal muscle spasm?

In most cases, abdominal muscle spasms related to exercise or muscle strain are not serious. However, because abnormal abdominal spasms can be due to serious underlying conditions, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying condition is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Deterioration of bowel function
  • Intestinal obstruction and rupture of the intestine
  • Rupture of an aortic aneurysm
  • Sepsis (a life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
  • Shock

Treatment for Abdominal Muscle Spasms

After discovering the cause of your abdominal muscle spasms, you must seek treatment options. Below we have described treatments in accordance with each cause:

Overworked muscles

To prevent spasms, it is important that you stretch your muscles thoroughly before and after exercise. If the muscle spasms occur while doing exercise, you should cease the activity and gently massage the abdomen. Following this massage you should apply either a cold or hot compression pad to the site. Another effective treatment method for abdominal spasms is to lie on your back and position your arms under your head, grasping the elbows. Once you are in this position you should inhale for a count of 8 and then exhale for another 8. This should be repeated until the muscle spasm goes away.


Drinking lots of fluid throughout the day will prevent dehydration from occurring. Extra fluids should be ingested when the weather is hot or when you are partaking in vigorous activity.

Kidney Stone Treatment

If the kidney stones are big enough then the only option to remove kidney stones is surgery. However; you need not to worry about that. Kidney stones are one of the common causes of abdominal muscle spasm. If you drink a lot of water and if your kidney stones are small enough, then these stones will pass within 1 or 2 days and you will be able to lead a normal life. However; if you experience severe muscle spasm, then doctors mat prescribe you stronger narcotic medication. If your kidney stones do not pass naturally, then shock waves can be recommended by your doctor to erode the stones into small pieces.

Black Widow Spider Bite

This does not typically require medical treatment. Relieving the symptoms at home is what is normally carried out. This involves the application of cold or warm compresses to the bite site or taking a hot bath to relieve pain and the spasm. Pain medications are also recommended to relieve the pain of the bite. However, if you experience chest pain or the victim is either elderly or very young a doctor should be sought immediately.

Hypothyroidism Treatment

This is one of the serious conditions that require full rest for the rest of the patient’s life. The patient has to take regular thyroid hormone levothyroxine. It will help the patient to get back his or her normal state. The patient will notice the improvement just within 3 weeks. The patient is not allowed to stop the treatment if he or she notices any improvement. If the patient stops the treatment, then it is possible to experience the previous symptoms again.

How to Prevent Abdominal Muscle Spasm

Prevention is the key to get relief from this irritating problem. Most of the cases abdominal muscle spasms are related with electrolyte disturbances as well as dehydration, so it is the 1st responsibility to keep your body well hydrated. You have to take enough fluids to prevent the spasms. If you do regular hard work or even a lot of exercises, then you have to drink enough water and fluids to keep your body hydrated. It is one of the crucial responsibilities that you have to maintain. You also have to prepare your body muscles for the hard activities. Before you perform hard work or even exercises, you have to warm up your body. Basically the treatment of abdominal muscle spasm depends on the causes of this problem. Short term pain relief, narcotics and muscle relaxants can work great to give you short term comfort. In short if you want to reduce the risk of abdominal muscle spasms, then you can try the following things

  • Drink lots of water and fluid
  • Eat foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium and vitamins
  • Stretch before exercises
Self-care measures are enough to deal with the muscle spasm. You just have to be careful about your daily eating habits and you have to avoid the reasons that are responsible for you muscle spasm. However; if you start to experience muscle spasm frequently without any reason, then you have to talk to your doctor and you have to find a perfect solution to relieve abdominal muscle pain.

When Should You Speak to a Doctor?

You should speak to a doctor before you begin any new forms of exercise. Your doctor will be able to look at your medical history and ensure that the exercise regimen you are embarking on will not cause serious side effects. If you subsequently experience abdominal muscle spasms, then you may need to speak to your doctor again. While many cases of spasms are related to muscle strain and are therefore not serious, there is a chance the spasms could be related to an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. If you experience the spasms when you are not exercising, then you should seek medical advice immediately.

Muscle spasms in your stomach will often occur as a result of overexertion. If you are on an exercise regimen designed to promote weight loss, and you have been overdoing it, then you might experience some abdominal spasms. This could be from fatigue, muscle strain, or even dehydration. You should speak to your doctor if you regularly have muscle spasms in your stomach, as it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition relating to your intestines.