Physiotherapy for Abdominal Strains

People can get abdominal strains when they injure any of the muscles in their abdominal wall. Abdominal strains can be caused by overstretching of the muscle or, in some cases, constant or repetitive abdominal muscle use. Sometimes too much stretching of the muscle may cause its fibers to tear causing abdominal muscle tears. The condition is sometimes called pulled abdominal muscle.

Physiotherapy can help you with your abdominal strain whether it is mild, moderate or partial tears, or severe (completely torn muscle).

Physiotherapy treatments for abdominal strains: An overview

The goals of physiotherapy for abdominal strains are to
  • Reduce your swelling and pain
  • Improve your flexibility and strength
  • Achieve your highest possible function and improving your quality of life

Initial physiotherapy treatments for your acute (immediate) abdominal strain aims to reduce your symptoms including pain and swelling. This can be achieved by applying an ice pack to your injury for 20 minutes. The pack is wrapped in towel to avoid direct contact between the ice pack and your skin, thus, preventing skin injury (frostbite).

You may be advised to avoid certain movements that add stress to your injured muscle. Rest may also be advised. However, resting for long periods is not be recommended.

When your swelling and pain have already subsided, your physiotherapist will begin teaching you with gentle range of motion and stretching exercises. He or she may also teach you progressive strengthening exercises to improve your abdominal muscle strength. The length of your physiotherapy rehabilitation depends on how fast your body heals and your motivation in actively participating in your rehabilitation program.

Physiotherapy treatment options for abdominal strains

Depending on the severity of your abdominal strain, your personal physiotherapist may also include other physiotherapy interventions including a combination of any of the following:
  • Ice / heat pack application
  • TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • Bandaging
  • Soft tissue mobilization / stretching
  • Gentle range of motion (ROM) exercises
  • Progressive strengthening exercises
  • Postural training
  • Athlete-specific training program
  • Patient education

The kind and duration of treatment that you receive will be determined by your physiotherapist based on your specific problems and your stated goals.

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