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Abdominal Wall Pain Service

Abdominal Wall Pain is an umbrella term that refers to widespread pain in the abdominal/tummy area. There are a number of treatments and approaches to managing it and our team of highly specialised physiotherapists, trained in managing this condition, are here to help!

What is abdominal wall pain?

Abdominal Wall Pain is an umbrella term used for diffuse, or widespread pain that is felt in the abdominal/tummy area that cannot be explained by more common conditions. It can be caused by a number of different things including hernias and abdominal surgery or procedures, and is generally a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that other potential causes must be ruled out before a diagnosis of abdominal wall pain ‘syndrome’ can be made. Therefore, the diagnosis process can often be quite a lengthy one.

Common causes for abdominal wall pain include:

  • Abdominal Cutaneous Nerve Entrapment Syndrome (ACNES) – entrapment or irritation of the abdominal nerve as it bends around your abdominal muscles. This is generally associated with severe pain around the lower right side of the abdomen, and is made worse when changing position or when the abdominal muscles are tense/being used;
  • Problems, or ‘dysfunction’ with the Diaphragm and or the lower ribs;
  • Referred pain from the Thoracic (mid) spine, the Lumbar (lower) spine, the Sacroiliac spine (where the spine joins the pelvis), and even the Pelvic Floor muscles;
  • Postural problems and the knock-on effects they can have.

Most of the time abdominal wall pain develops gradually, and is often contributed to by stress and gut function, which we know are two things that are highly linked.

So what can we do about it?

Depending on the cause, there are a number of different treatment techniques or approaches to managing abdominal wall pain. However, Physiotherapy can be one of the most effective, due to all the associated musculoskeletal issues (as listed above) that are often present. Physiotherapy has been shown to significantly reduce pain and symptoms, and improve function and general well-being, due to the ‘whole-body’ approach it takes. Treatment generally includes some or all of the following:

  • Soft-tissue release of the associated muscle tension;
  • Manual therapy, or mobilisations of the spine;
  • Advice and education about breathing techniques/re-training, relaxation/meditation;
  • Postural advice and treatment, including exercises and muscle strengthening, stretching or reconditioning;
  • Stress management;
  • Referral on to specialists, including Gastro-intestinal (gut) specialists, Rheumatology specialists (considering the link abdominal wall pain has with connective tissue disorders), and Psychologists for emotional well-being and pain-management advice.
    Find more information on our Hypermobility Unit page and The London Hypermobility Unit website.

If a more medical approach is required, then things like pain medication or trigger-point injection therapy can also help. However considering surgery would always be one of the last options, due to additional problems that simply having an invasive operation can present.

We’re Here To Help

Our team of highly specialised physiotherapists at Central Health are trained in managing this condition, so don’t wait for your symptoms to get worse before you seek help or advice. Book in with one of us today for a thorough assessment to see if we can get to the bottom of what is causing your pain. Often just one session can be enough to feel the benefits!

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