What is an abdominal muscle spasm?

Written by karen dietzius
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Also known as abdominal rigidity, an abdominal muscle spasm is when the muscles in the abdomen involuntarily contract and cramp, feeling stiff and painful to the touch or if pressed.

Common Causes

There are several causes for an abdominal muscle spasm, some more severe than others. Causes could be due to appendicitis, hernia, colic and gastrointestinal perforation.

Accompanying Symptoms

An abdominal muscle spasm may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting along with tenderness and swelling. The pain becomes increasingly intense when pressed.

Seeing a Doctor

A muscle spasm in the abdomen is serious and should be evaluated by a physician immediately. It could be the result of a more serious condition and should not be ignored.


Depending on the cause of the spasm, treatment will differ. For example, gastroenteritis can be treated with antibiotics, and colic will go away on its own.


Avoid taking pain relievers if you experience abdominal muscle spasms until you have been seen by a physician. Pain relievers can mask the symptoms.

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