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What is an abdominal strain?

There are four main abdominal muscles which include the rectus abdominus (six-pack), the external and internal obliques located on each side of the stomach and the deep transverse abdominus muscle. An abdominal strain is therefore a tear in the fibres that make up any of the four abdominal muscles. Physiotherapy is important following an abdominal strain.

How does an abdominal strain occur?

An abdominal strain can occur from exercises such as sit-ups or during a strong twisting movement. Abdominal strain can also during heavy bouts of coughing or sneezing which will place added pressure on the abdominal muscle.

There are different grades of abdominal strains depending on the severity of injury:
  • Grade 1: a limited number of muscle fibres are torn
  • Grade 2: a greater number of fibres are torn with more pain and bruising
  • Grade 3: a complete rupture of the abdominal muscles

What are the symptoms of an abdominal strain?

The main symptom of an abdominal strain is pain which varies in severity depending on which grade is experienced. It may also be sore to touch the area and local inflammation may be evident. With more severe strains, there could be bleeding in the tissues causing bruising. It will be difficult to carry out any movements that involve the abdominal muscles which includes sitting up, twisting and standing for long periods. Other symptoms include:

What should I do if I have an abdominal strain?

If you suspect you may have an abdominal strain, it is important to see a physiotherapist as soon as possible. It will be useful to apply some crushed ice wrapped in a damp towel to the area to reduce some of the inflammation and pain.

Physiotherapy treatment for an abdominal strain.

There are many physiotherapy options to treat abdominal strains including cyrotherapy (ice), electrotherapy techniques such as ultrasound and a graduated exercise programme. Other treatments may include:

What shouldn’t I do if I have an abdominal strain?

If you think you may have an abdominal strain, it is important not to continue with any of the activities that aggravate your symptoms. Do not ignore your symptoms as this may your injury worse and more difficult to recover from.

Could there be any long-term effects from an abdominal strain?

Grades one and two abdominal strains usually resolve effectively with a physiotherapy programme and rest from aggravating activities. A grade three rupture may require surgical intervention but it is still important to begin physiotherapy before and after the operation to optimise your recovery.

To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call Physio.co.uk on 0161 8830077 or book online.

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