Abdominal & Chest Pain

Chest pain in the athlete can be anything from indigestion to a heart attack so if you are at all unsure seek medical advice. Moderate to severe chest injuries should always be assessed by a doctor to ensure the ribs, lungs or other internal organs including the heart have not been affected or damaged. However, in view of the possible consequences from any chest or abdominal injury, if in doubt, always consult a doctor.

Side Stitch

A stitch can usually be felt to one side of the abdomen, more often the right side, around the area of the lower ribs. We examine the possible causes and what you may be able to do about it.


Being winded refers to what happens when you are subjected to a sudden forceful impact to the abdomen. This causes difficulty breathing and is often described as having the wind knocked out of you.

Bruised abs (or an abdominal muscle contusion) occur after a direct trauma or impact to the stomach muscles. This may be from a hard object such as a ball or racket, or in an accident such as a fall which causes bleeding into the muscles.

Pec Strain

The pectoralis major muscle is a large powerful muscle at the front of the chest. It used to rotate the arm inwards. Its weak point is at the tendon where it attaches to the arm bone.

Cardiac Chest Pain

Chest pain in athletes can be from a number of causes, although cardiac or heart problems should always be considered.

Abdominal Strain

An abdominal strain is a tear or rupture of part of the abdominal muscles, usually at the point where it attaches to the pelvis.

Rib Fracture

A rib fracture is common in contact sports and usually occurs following a hard impact to the chest by an elbow or similar.

Bruised Bladder

A bruised bladder is also known as a contusion and is bruising of the bladder, caused by a direct impact to the lower abdomen. This may occur following a fall, car accident or being hit with a blunt object.

Bruised Liver

A bruised liver or a liver contusion occurs after a direct impact to the torso, resulting in bleeding within the organ. Car accidents are the most common cause of this injury.

Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneum which lines the abdominal cavity. It is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.

Peptic Ulcer

Peptic Ulcers (stomach ulcers) are open sores that develop on the inside wall of the stomach. They may sometimes arise in the small intestine as well.

Bruised Kidney

A bruised kidney (or kidney contusion) occurs following a direct impact on the lower back area. This is most commonly from car accidents, although may also result from a fall or a physical attack, such as being kicked in the back.


Costochondritis occurs at the joints between the ribs and the sternum (breastbone). The condition is sometimes also known as Tietze's syndrome.

Bruised Spleen

A bruised spleen (or spleen contusion) is bruising to the spleen which occurs after a direct impact to the upper left abdomen. It may occur after a fall or a car accident. It is not as severe an injury as a spleen laceration (or rupture).

Referred Chest Pain

Pain in the chest can sometimes be referred from the back. Pain will be felt in the chest but the cause of the problem may be in the thoracic spine.

Costochondral Separation

A Costochondral separation is sometimes known as a rib separation usually occurs after a direct impact.

Breast Contusion

A breast contusion is bruising of the breast tissue, caused by a direct impact to the area. Common examples of this are being hit by a ball such as in hockey or cricket or being elbowed in contact sports.

A bruised sternum or sternum contusion as it is also known occurs after an impact to the sternum or breastbone. This most frequently occurs after road traffic accidents, although collision sports and those with hard balls or rackets etc can also impact the sternum.

Sternum Fracture

A sternum fracture is a break to the breastbone. A sternal fracture is most often caused by a direct impact to the bone, at the front of the chest. This is most frequent in road traffic accidents.

Jogger's Nipple

This is a painful condition more common in men than women. It is in effect a friction burn known as chafing caused by constant rubbing of a T-shirt on the nipple. It is often more likely in cold and wet weather.

Jogger's Breast

Repetitive trauma or bouncing up and down from jogging can cause permanent damage resulting in breasts dropping. Prevention is far better than cure!

A kidney laceration (or rupture) occurs following a blunt impact to the lower back region. The extent of the injury can vary considerably.

Ruptured Spleen

A ruptured spleen may occur following a direct blow to the left side of the stomach or back. This causes a tearing of the lining of the spleen and the tissues inside.

Bruised Ribs

Bruised ribs or a rib contusion occurs following a direct impact to the chest. This may be because of a fall or direct impact from a hard object, but the most common cause is a car accident.

Stress Fracture Ribs

Stress fractures of the ribs can be caused by excessive contraction of the muscles that attach to the ribs such as serratus anterior.


A pneumothorax or collapsed lung occurs when there is a build-up of air in the space between the lungs and the rib cage - known as the pleural space.

Sternoclavicular Sprain

The collarbone connects to the sternum or breastbone in the middle of the chest at the top. If the shoulder is subjected to a hard impact this joint known as the sternoclavicular joint can become injured.