An abdominal muscle strain occurs when the muscles are stretched or torn. Abdominal muscles may be strained during a forceful activity such as lifting or an everyday occurrence like a hard cough or sneeze. The main symptom of an abdominal muscle strain is a feeling of pain over the abdominal muscles. When the muscles are torn all the way through, this may result in an abdominal wall hernia where some of the intestines and connective tissue may protrude through the tear and cause a bulge in the abdominal wall.
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Put ice on the injured area immediately after you injure it (or as soon as you possibly can). Apply the ice for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for the first 2 or 3 days or until it stops hurting.
See your health care provider to determine the extent of your injury. Your provider may be able to provide an anti-inflammatory medication which will also help to decrease the pain.
Rest your abdominal muscles as best you can. Do not return to normal activities until you can bend at the waist and then straighten back up again without pain.
Call your caregiver if the pain from your abdominal strain does not let up within a few days. If it is determined that you have a hernia, you may need a supportive truss or even surgery to correct this problem.
Try some gentle exercises when your abdominal muscles are no longer hurting. You can do some ab pushes by pressing the finger tips of both hands several inches into your abdomen. Then, while exhaling, push your fingers out using your abdominal muscles. Hold your abdomen in this pushed-out position for 5 seconds, then repeat the exercise again for a total of 20 repetitions.
Tips and warnings
- Gentle heat applied to your muscles before exercising may help them to loosen up. Use a heating pad or heat wrap for this treatment.
- The longer you wait to treat your abdominal muscle strain, the longer it will take you to heal from the injury.