Rectus Abdominus Muscle Pain

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Written By Dr. Marcus Yu Bin Pai

MD, PhD. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician from São Paulo - Brazil. Pain Fellowship in University of São Paulo.


The muscle known as the “rectus abdominis” is located in the anterior part of the abdomen, close to the muscles that bend the spine. This muscle frequently feels painful.

This section will cover the causes, signs, and treatments of rectus abdominis muscle discomfort. It will also include ways to avoid it in the future.

Muscular Anatomy

rectus abdominus

From your pelvis to your ribs, a long, flat band of muscle known as the rectus abdominis surrounds the front of your abdomen. It joins at both ends to cartilage on either side of your sternum and tendons at the pubic bone, respectively. You can stoop forward and chew food mostly with the aid of this muscle.


Two tendons join the rectus abdominis muscle inferiorly; the bigger one runs from the pubic tubercle to the pectineal line and is linked to the pubic crest, while the smaller medial tendon runs from the pubic symphysis to the pubic crest.


The xiphoid process of the sternum and the costal cartilages of the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs are where the rectus abdominis fibers insert.

Nerve Supply

The thoracoabdominal nerves pierce the anterior surface of the rectus sheath to enter and innervate the rectus abdominis muscle. Simply put, the nerves are the anterior divisions of the 7th to 11th lower intercostal nerves, which continue to innervate the abdominal wall following the intercostal gaps they supplied medially.

Blood Supply

Numerous blood vessels feed the rectus abdominis muscle with blood, but mostly the inferior and superior epigastric arteries do so. Small terminal branches of the deep circumflex artery, subcostal artery, and the lower three posterior intercostal arteries are also contributors.

Function of The Rectus Abdominus Muscle

The trunk is brought forward by the rectus abdominis. Additionally, this muscle compresses the abdominal viscera and raises intra-abdominal pressure when it cooperates with other abdominal muscles, which plays a crucial role in activities including forced respiration, labor, feces, and micturition. The rectus abdominis also maintains and regulates pelvic tilt


Causes of Rectus Abdominus Muscle Pain

Repetitive activities, such as sitting at a desk all day, moving heavy things, or prolonged hamstring stretching are the most common causes of rectus abdominus muscle soreness.

We should point out that a hernia is one of the most frequent sources of discomfort in the Rectus abdominus muscle while discussing the causes of this condition. Injuries to the abdominal wall, such as stretching or speeding too rapidly after being at rest, are typically mentioned when discussing what causes a hernia. Due to their prior hernia and elevated risk of future ones, certain persons are prone to acquiring them.

There are many causes of rectus abdominus muscle pain. They could result from pregnancy, obesity, lower back problems or even constipation.

Moreover, your muscles become more tense overall when you are under emotional stress, but your flexor muscles—the rectus function—are particularly prone to strain. This is due to the fact that emotional tension and fear are connected, and dread arises when we run out of alternatives or solutions to a problem or issue in life.

It is incorrect to assume that this pain is only a little stomach ache and to treat it as such. It can be a sign of a more severe issue, such GERD, cancer, or difficulties during pregnancy.

Trigger Points of Rectus Abdominus Muscle Pain

The rectus abdominis muscle may develop trigger points as a result of visceral illness, physical harm, psychological stress, poor posture, and overuse, to mention a few.

Surgery in the affected region or a muscular injury sustained in a car accident are two examples of trauma. These muscles might also get overworked by routine tasks like strenuous housekeeping or certain exercises.

Pain Patterns and Symptoms

Trigger points in the rectus abdominis muscle can be uncomfortable and impair abdominopelvic function. Determining whether or not a patient has trigger points is frequently a diagnosis of exclusion.

The following are some of the most typical reasons of this sort of pain: Trigger point pain is characterized by tension, local soreness, and, in rare cases, muscular spasms. Manual pressure can be used to simulate this agony.


The abdominal muscle in the front of the body is called the rectus abdominus. Because it resembles a line of packed boxes, it is sometimes referred to as having “6-pack muscles.”

People who have trigger points or tight bands in these muscles may have discomfort and soreness in the rectus abdominus muscle. Simply said, trigger points are places of muscular stiffness that can lead to pain and other symptoms in other parts of the body.

Rest helps to relieve abdominal muscle tensions over time. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), alternate applying an ice pack and warm compresses to the affected area also might help to ease pain and inflammation. If you saw no improvment with home therapy, seeing your doctor is a must.

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MD, PhD. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician from São Paulo - Brazil. Pain Fellowship in University of São Paulo.

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