What is Oblique Strain or Side Strain?

The Oblique Muscle is one of the most used muscles in the body. This muscle provides balance, strength, and numerous types of movements and allows us to do a lot of activities and hence is utilized quite a bit. This is the reason why it is common for people to suffer from oblique strain or side strain with associated pain. This is more so in athletes who overuse these muscles when they play competitive sports. Hence it is that much more important for them to understand what the body is telling them and realize when they have strained the oblique muscle and start treatment so as not to do much more damage to the muscle. Oblique strain or side strain is quite common and not much treatment is required aside from rest and pain medications. Usually, the oblique strain or side strain resolves within a couple of weeks and the patient can return to all normal activities or sports. In case if the oblique pain is not responsive to standard treatments, then medical consultation is required to look for some other medical condition. Anatomically, the oblique muscles are situated in the abdomen. There are two types of oblique muscles, internal oblique muscle and external oblique muscle with their main function being to twist, bend, and balance the body.

Oblique Strain or Side Strain

What are the Causes of Oblique Strain or Side Strain?

There can be a variety of reasons for oblique strain or side strain with the main reason being the muscle being utilized beyond its normal ability and being strained. The Oblique Muscles allow you to bend side to side, move up and down, and twist which is something we basically do all day. Any such sudden movement can cause the Oblique Muscle to get strained. Overuse is also one of the causes for oblique strain or side strain. An injury or trauma to the abdominal region can also result in oblique strain or side strain. Some of the activities that may result in oblique strain or side strain are:

  • Persistent coughing and sneezing episodes
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Rowing a heavy boat
  • Doing abdominal exercises without prior warm up
  • Sitting for long periods of time in a poor posture
  • Direct blow to the abdominal region.

What is Oblique Strain or Side Strain

What are the Symptoms of Oblique Strain or Side Strain?

Some of the symptoms of oblique strain or side strain are:

  • Sudden onset of acute pain around the ribcage on side or both the sides which worsens with moving, lifting, or bending.
  • The pain experienced can be constant ache or may be sharp.
  • Tenderness to palpation in the abdominal and ribcage area can be a symptom of oblique strain or side strain.
  • Oblique pain with movement.
  • In some cases, there can be symptoms of bruising around the area of the pain.
  • Worsening of pain with coughing and sneezing.
  • Oblique pain symptoms or side strain symptoms may include pain at the waist and the sides of the trunk.

How is Oblique Strain or Side Strain Treated?

Oblique strain or side strain is quite painful and the pain can be incapacitating if not taken care of appropriately. A prompt medical attention will ensure that there is nothing else going on with the body and it is just an oblique strain or side strain. A few pain killers and a week of rest can do the trick in treatment of oblique strain or side strain and prevent further damage to the muscle.

Some of the ways by which you can treat oblique strain or side strain are:

Anti Inflammatory Medications: Anti Inflammatory medications in the form of Tylenol and ibuprofen can go a long way in relieving pain and inflammation due to oblique strain or side strain. It should be made sure that such medications should not be tried on children and teenagers without consulting with a medical professional.

Warm/Cold Compresses: This is the next best way to treat oblique strain or side strain. You can utilize warm compresses on the area of pain for 15-20 minutes and do this two to three times a day. You can also use ice to the injured area by wrapping it in a towel and applying it on the area of pain for 15-20 minutes two to three times a day. It should be made sure that both ice and heat should not be applied simultaneously as it may cause blisters to develop.

Brace: At times, a back brace can be utilized to support the Oblique Muscle and prevent it from further damage especially when you cannot take time off of work and your work demands lifting and bending frequently.

Rest: Complete rest and avoiding activities that may further damage the Oblique Muscle is recommended. Try and not lift heavy objects, and do not bend or twist frequently, or move from side to side.

What is the Recovery Period of Oblique Strain or Side Strain?

Normally, oblique strain or side strain should resolve within a period of two weeks with complete rest and abstaining from activities that may aggravate the condition. The patient may return to all normal activities and play competitive sports within two weeks of the onset of oblique strain or side strain.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 10, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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