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Understanding abdominal pain

Abdominal pain can be scary and can significantly impact your quality of life. What’s more, it can be caused by many varying things.


So… What do we need to know about the abdomen?

  • The abdominal cavity starts at the bottom of the ribs and extends to your pelvis and contains your vital organs
  • You have layers of muscles at the front and sides known as your abdominals, and the ones at the back are your spinal muscles
  • The base of the abdominal cavity is made up of the pelvic floor


So… Why do I have abdominal pain?

There are many potential reasons as to why you may be experiencing abdominal pain.

Here are a few that can be managed by your local Life Ready physiotherapist:

  1. Muscular strains of the abdominals, which often occur from overuse, over stretching or unaccustomed loading to the muscles, can cause abdominal pain. This type of muscle pain is often associated with movement of the abdomen. Muscle strains to the pelvic floor can also give rise to abdominal pain and is often occurs in postnatal women
  2. Pelvic pain stemming from the sacroiliac joint, pubic symphysis or the pelvic floor can refer pain into the abdomen. Although the pain is not directly within the abdominal cavity, sensitivity to this area can cause pain to radiate
  3. Lower back pain can refer into the abdomen due to muscular and joint stiffness. Poor control and hypermobility in the lumbar spine can also refer into abdominals
  4. Thoracic pain and stiffness can refer into the abdomen by the means of referred pain. Less commonly, thoracic radiculopathy can refer pain, leading to sensitisation or compression of the nerves in the thoracic spine

There are many other medical conditions that can cause abdominal pain and these are best treated by a medical professional, such as a doctor or specialist in the area.

So… When should I go and see my doctor about abdominal pain?

If you are experiencing any of the following, you should seek medical attention:

  • Severe pain
  • Pain and vaginal bleeding if you are pregnant
  • Pain in your scrotum
  • Pain and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain and vomiting blood
  • Blood in bowel motions or urine
  • Pain that spreads to chest
  • Fever and sweats
  • Unable to pass urine, bowels or gas
  • Any other concerns


If you are experiencing any abdominal pain, it is best to either visit your local Life Ready physiotherapist or your GP to guide you to your best quality of life. If you feel that your pain may be related to pelvic health or pregnancy, we have team of women’s and men’s health physiotherapists that are highly skilled and experienced in this area.

Book an appointment now to get started on your health journey

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