Oblique muscles are important muscles of abdomen which help you to twist your trunk, bend sideways, and to an extent assist in breathing. These muscles are attached to the ribs on the upper side and on top of hip bone on its lower end. There are two types of oblique muscles, external oblique and internal oblique.
The larger external oblique muscles are on the upper surface of abdomen just below the skin and subcutaneous fat. The internal obliques are located below the external oblique muscles on both side of trunk. They are deeper since they lie below the external.
These muscles can be strained and painful due to overuse, a direct trauma over the abdomen or if you suddenly and forcefully twist or bend. Activities such as twisting or bending exercise, rowing, forceful bowling in cricket, chronic cough, raking the soil while planting, or lifting heavy tools from the ground can sometime strain the oblique muscles.
It is important to treat the muscle strain no sooner the symptoms develop as neglecting the condition can lead to chronic pain.
Symptoms Of Strained Oblique Muscle
Stiffness and pain are the two most important symptoms when oblique muscles are strained.A forceful twist or bending of trunk will stretch the oblique muscles and in doing so, the muscle fibers may get torn microscopically. As a result the person may experience sharp pain at the side of abdomen and lower end of chest.
- The pain may increase on doing provocative work. This type of pain may be felt immediately after the pull or may be gradual and persist even when the person is resting. If the strain is minor, the symptom may increase only while doing certain work or exercise.
- The oblique muscles may become stiff once they are pulled. Stiffness is more felt upon waking in the morning. Stiffness and pain go hand in hand. The stiffened muscles may restrict the person to do his regular work, especially people who play sports such as cricket bowlers, heavy lifters, rowers, golf players etc.
- If the strain is severe, person may also have swelling of the side muscles, weakness and bruising. The affected side may become tender to touch.
- In severe cases laughing, deep breathing, or coughing may increase pain in the lower side of chest and abdomen.
Home Treatment For Oblique Muscle Strain
With a thorough clinical examination oblique muscle strain is easily identified. However, if there is any confusion in the diagnosis, the doctor may advise patient to undergo MRI or sonography test. Rest is essential part of treatment. Person should avoid all activities especially sports activities for few weeks that may aggravate pain and cause hindrance in healing process.
- In the initial few days, person should apply ice fomentation. This will reduce swelling and pain. After few days, massage with coconut oil should be initiated. It will help to relax the strained oblique muscles.
- A gentle massage will increase blood circulation and thus the damaged muscle fibers will get sufficient nutrients needed to heal.
- Place a heating pad on the affected area. It will relax the muscle spasm. A gentle deep breathing exercise or stretching exercise on foam roller will be helpful to relax the spasm.
It may take 4 to 6 weeks for complete recovery if the muscles are severely affected. In minor cases the healing period may be shorter.