The oblique muscles in the abdomen are consistently being utilized for balance, strength, and with many types of movement and activities. Because they play such a large role in activity, lifting, and exercise it is very common that men and women alike experience pain associated with oblique muscle strain. For athletes, those that work out, and do abdominal exercises it is essential that they understand the symptoms, how it feels, where they are located in your body, and how to treat an oblique muscle strain in order not to do further damage to these important muscle groups.
The Anatomy of Oblique Muscles: What Are They?
The oblique muscles are located in the core of your abdomen. There are two groups of oblique muscles: internal and external. These muscles are in the main base of your trunk along the sides of the abdomen. They are used to twist, bend, and they also help you breathe in some cases.
The External Oblique: The External oblique muscles in your stomach region are bigger than the internal oblique muscles. They are located symmetrically on both sides of the upper abdomen and are larger and on the top surface of your abdomen and inbetween the layer of subcutaneous fat.
The Internal Oblique: The Internal oblique muscles are located far beneath the external obliques. They are also on both sides of the abdomen- but are smaller than the External oblique muscles.
Oblique Muscle Strain: What Causes it to Happen?
There is a plethora of reasons and causes of an oblique muscle strain, but a strain typically occurs when a person is moving or partaking in an activity that requires the muscle group to be utilized to its full extent.
It is important for you to be aware that the oblique muscles refer around the sides of your abdomen towards the lower back.
They also are connected by tissue to the upper hip bone, lower ribs, and abdominal fascia. They are pretty much the muscles that allow you to bend side to side & up and down, twist, and that encompass your waist-line.
Any sudden movement with force can cause an oblique muscle strain. Additionally, overuse, exhausted muscles, and any blow or trauma to the abdomen can injure it and cause these types of muscle strains including:
- Coughing or sneezing bouts
- Lifting heavy objects
- Raking, Rowing a boat or paddling, bowling
- Not being warmed up before performing abdominal exercises
- Poor Posture and sitting for long periods
- Direct blows or something hitting the abdomen suddenly
- Scar Tissue from surgeries and lacerations on the abdomen
Signs and Symptoms of an Oblique Muscle Strain
The symptoms and signs of an oblique muscle strain are pretty clear to notice, however as with other medical conditions symptoms often run in line with other types of medical conditions. You should always seek medical attention if when self-treating this type of strain and pain, it does not go away or get better with time.
When you have an oblique muscle strain you will notice the following symptoms:
- Rapid onset of pain around the rib cage on one side or both sides
- Pain can be a constant dull ache or real sharp when touched or while making a movement
- When you push where it hurts the location will be tender and sore
- Often if you have an oblique muscle strain you will notice bruising around the area where you are having pain
- Pain will worsen when you move, twist, bend, or lift anything
- Pain will be sharp when coughing, breathing, or sneezing
- Pain at your waist, in your pelvis, on the sides of your trunk
Treating an Oblique Muscle Strain and Pain Management Tips
An oblique muscle strain can be very painful, and even lead to worse medical conditions if not taken care of properly. Although if it is minor a doctor can rule out every other medical condition that can cause the same types of pain, an individual can often treat and utilize different pain management tips to alleviate pain, soreness, and to not further harm their core muscles and body.
Here are some of the best ways you can treat and manage pain caused by an oblique muscle strain:
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication:
The best way to get some relief from oblique muscle strain pain is to take (NSAIDs) or anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Naproxen Sodium. Only take these as directed and do NOT administer this medication to children or teens without consulting with a medical professional.
Use Hot/ Cold Compresses
You can try heat first to see if it helps any swelling or immediate pain go away. But often trading hot/cold compresses will provide temporary relief that also helps the muscle to relax and heal more optimally. You can also purchase hot cold patches that you just apply directly that last from 4-8 hours for pain management.
Get a Back Brace: Sometimes a back brace that is applied around the waist, torso area can provide support for the muscle and keep it in place when you have no choice but to partake in every day activities. You can also try getting a bandage and wrapping it around you in a snug manner.
Rest and Forfeit other Straining Activities: The best thing you can do to help your oblique muscle strain to heal is to rest and to forfeit exercising and performing straining activities. Do not lift heavy objects and avoid as much activity as possible that requires you to bend, twist, and move side to side.
Oblique Muscle Strain: Bottom Line
An oblique muscle strain is a fairly common medical condition that does not require much medical intervention. You should rest, take pain medication, and understand that it will take a few weeks before you begin to notice that the pain is gone. Additionally, it is important that if the pain worsens and other critical symptoms apply that you seek medical attention.