Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain in athletes

Abdominal pain results from direct trauma to the abdomen, or is gastrointestinal related with abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting.


Is your pain sudden onset/acute or gradual onset?

Acute abdominal pain

The following are injuries or complications caused by a direct impact or trauma to the abdomen.

Winded (Solar Plexus Syndrome)

A sudden blow to the abdomen sometimes causes difficulty breathing. This is referred to as ‘being winded’. This is a common term describing Solar plexus syndrome. Symptoms usually pass in 10-15 minutes as the diaphragm relaxes and recovers from the blow.

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Abdominal muscle 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. Symptoms include:

  • Immediate severe pain in the abdominal muscles
  • Pain is worse when the muscles contract

Participation in sports such as pole vault, gymnastics, and rowing sometimes causes abdominal muscle strains.

Read more on Abdominal muscle strain

Bruised bladder

Bruised Bladder

A direct impact or trauma to the lower abdomen causes a bruised bladder, also known as a contusion. Seek medical attention if you suspect bladder problems. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden pain in the lower stomach area
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Blood in the urine

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Bruised Liver (Contusion)

A bruised liver or a liver contusion occurs after a direct impact on the torso, resulting in bleeding within the organ. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect liver contusion. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden pain on impact
  • Pain and tenderness in the upper right of the abdomen
  • Referred pain in the right shoulder
  • Nausea.

In severe injuries, if you lose a lot of blood, you could go into shock and possibly lose consciousness. Severe injuries could be a laceration (tear) of the liver.

Read more on Liver contusion.

Bruised Kidney (contusion)

A bruised kidney (or kidney contusion) occurs following a direct impact on the lower back area. If you suspect a kidney contusion seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of a kidney contusion include:

  • Instant pain in the lower back area, usually on one side
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Muscle spasms in the back

Read more on Kidney contusions

Kidney laceration

A kidney laceration (or rupture) occurs following a blunt impact to the lower back region, whether it’s a fall or a physical attack. Symptoms vary and include the following:

  • Painful abdomen on palpation (pressing in)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in blood pressure and pulse
  • Shock may lead to unconsciousness

Read more on Kidney laceration.

Bruised Spleen (Contusion)

A bruised spleen (or spleen contusion) is bruising to the spleen which occurs after a direct impact to the upper left abdomen. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect a spleen injury. Symptoms include:

  • Immediate pain on the left side of the body
  • Nausea
  • Referred pain to the left shoulder or arm
  • Abdominal Tenderness

Read more on Bruised spleen.

Ruptured Spleen (Laceration)

A ruptured spleen may occur following a direct blow to the left side of the stomach or back. This is often from road accidents, contact sports, or physical fights. The impact tears the lining of the spleen and the tissues inside which can make the abdomen painful. Seek medical help immediately.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Referred pain in the left shoulder

If bleeding is rapid, symptoms of shock develop quickly. These include:

  • Light-headedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Read more on Ruptured spleen.

Gradual onset abdominal pain

Gradual onset or chronic abdominal pain is anything else other than direct trauma or impact.

Gastrointestinal symptoms & abdominal pain

Gastrointestinal abdominal pain involves the stomach and intestines. Problems during exercise, especially high-intensity exercise are common. The specific symptoms may include:

  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • An urge to defecate.

There are a number of causes including Peptic ulcer, peritonitis, or simply a virus or infection.

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Kidney stones & abdominal pain

Kidney stones are small hard lumps that develop within the kidneys. They develop from waste products filtered through the kidneys forming crystalized masses. Symptoms usually include:

  • Severe pain in the back or side of the abdomen
  • Groin pain
  • Symptoms may last from a few minutes to several hours and may be constant or intermittent
  • Nausea
  • Burning sensation on going to the toilet
  • Blood in the urine, cloudy urine and an urge to urinate more regularly are also symptoms

More on kidney stones.

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