How to treat a ruptured stomach muscle

Updated April 17, 2017

Rupture of the stomach muscle is also known as abdominal strain. The muscle that is most commonly affected by this injury is the rectus abdominis muscle. It is the muscle that forms the “six pack” look on the belly area, when it is well developed. Abdominal strain occurs, when the muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its normal limits, which will then lead to tearing of muscle fibres to a certain degree. The damage is graded 1, 2, and 3. Grade I -- mild discomfort due to damage of few muscle fibres, but the overall strength of the muscle is still normal. Grade II -- more muscle fibres are torn which brings more pain, swelling, and discomfort. Grade III -- involves complete rupture of the muscle, which is manifested by severe muscle spasm and pain, intense swelling and bruising, and decrease range of motion.

Application of ice is beneficial during the first 48 hours after injury. Place a towel on the abdomen and apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the skin to get warm for about 45 minutes and then you can begin icing again. Apply it 4 to 8 times a day. Ice application or cryotherapy is best during the acute phase of injury to decrease swelling and pain, and also to reduce bleeding of the damaged muscle.

Consult your doctor for some helpful medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid injections to help with the inflammation and muscle relaxants to relieve painful and spastic muscles.

Put some topical analgesic muscle cream or gel. Apply it on the injured abdomen until it is completely absorbed. Keep on applying it for about 3 to 4 times a day to provide pain relief that lasts for hours.

Schedule for a physiotherapy session. Rehabilitation will contribute much for a quick recovery. Physical therapist will apply modalities, such as therapeutic ultrasounds, to help reduce pain and discomfort; and also some specific exercises to strengthen weakened abdominal muscles.

Application of heat is beneficial 4 to 5 days after inflammation has subsided. Moist heat application, such as a warm bath, is excellent for abdominal strain. The heat in this method easily penetrates into the muscles, which then relieves pain and spasm of the abdomen.

Rest the injured abdominal muscle to promote a faster healing process. For Grade I abdominal strain, rest the muscle from any activities, for about 3 weeks. Grade II abdominal strain requires 4 to 6 weeks of rest. And grade III requires 3 to 4 months of complete bed rest to allow the muscle to heal from surgery.


Be sure to apply ice for not more than 20 minutes to avoid frostbite.

Seek immediate medical attention if the following is present:

If there is severe pain in the groin area

If pain is present even at rest

If there is high fever, chills, vomiting or dizziness

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Wirnani Garner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and works in the medical profession. Her articles focus on health-related subjects, though Garner is proficient in researching and writing about a diverse range of topics.