Abdominal pain can have many sources, ranging from regular monthly menstrual discomfort to more serious conditions requiring a doctor's attention. Evaluating your pain in terms of frequency, time of day, and activities that may trigger it will help you determine if you need medical intervention.
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The abdominal pain you feel while walking or exercising may simply be a stitch. You'll feel this cramping pain on one side of your abdomen, most likely when you are running or walking quickly. The erect position of standing or walking is almost always a factor when you get a stitch in your side. The stitch may be caused by strain on the abdominal ligaments that are attached to your diaphragm. A stitch is ofter the result of poor breathing technique. Be sure to breathe rhythmically and deeply during physical activity.
If you have abdominal pain when you stand, walk or exercise it may be a warning sign that you have heart disease (aka cardiovascular disease). This is especially true if you are older than 35. You also may feel nausea, dizziness and general fatigue. If you are a man older than 40 who has been sedentary or a person who has undergone menopause, you should undergo a treadmill stress test to determine whether you have heart disease before starting a new workout regimen, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons book, "Athletic Training and Sports Medicine."
Muscle strains may be the culprit behind abdominal pain. In fact, the rectus abdominis is the muscle that's most commonly injured, notes "Fundamentals of Sports Injury Management," author Marcia K. Anderson. Your abdominal muscle be strained due to a sudden twist, a sudden spine extension or even during a forceful exhalation while weight lifting. Raising your leg out straight is likely to increase your pain. Try applying ice, rest and allow the muscles to rest for 36 to 48 hours. Avoid turning or twisting until your pain subsides. See a doctor if pain is severe and persistent.
Abdominal hernias often cause pain, though not always. If you have a strangulated hernia you will experience steady and gradually increasing pain. Nausea or vomiting are other symptoms. The hernia itself will be tender, and you may have diffuse tenderness as well. Since hernias often are apparent only when abdominal pressure is increased, your doctor is likely to examine you while you are in a standing position. If your hernia is not strangulated it can be repaired via a standard incision or laparoscopy. If it is strangulated you need urgent surgical repair.
If you have infrequent or irregular bowel movements, your abdominal pain may be caused by constipation. Constipation can be caused by medications, poor diet and dehydration. To relieve constipation, consume a diet of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. Eat yogurt or take a probiotic supplement to restore bacterial flora to your digestive system. Drink an ounce of water daily for every kilogram of body weight, or approximately half your weight in pounds.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.