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Lower abdominal pain/discomfort
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Lower abdominal pain/discomfort

Hi, I've been having lower abdominal discomfort for some time.

I'm starting to get worried and very scared.

I'll describe what happened as detailed as possible.

A little bit about myself - I'm 18 years old, I've been working out very regularly for the past 3 years.
I do martial arts and I've been training really hard and in previous exams, doctors have stated that I'm in great health.

Previously, I'd do 40-50 sit ups until it starts to "burn" but that's a good thing. It's not actually a pain and it goes away minutes after the exercise. I was frustrated with the minimal gains, cause stomach fat is very very stubborn. I wanted to do something with a little extra kick, to make my abs like a greek god... Somewhere in April I did a "new" exercise for my abs.

What I did - I made sure I isolated my legs on a park bench, to make sure they won't move, so my back from the waist above is sticking out in the air. I lower my upper body near the ground, and raise it up, doing a 160 degree angle, each repetition. This exercise did feel powerful, i felt my abs really tight...
On the next day when I woke up I nearly cried... I felt nasty pain in my lower abdomen. I started assuming the worse, cause I've NEVER felt such a thing no matter how hard I trained previously (and I've done way tougher stuff..)

Ever since that morning I avoided any physically demanding tasks. I was afraid and I did research on the internet about my condition that nearly freaked me out...  One week passed, and with every passing day the pain diminished, until it turned into simple discomfort, and it eventually was almost gone (98%).

I felt a lot of relief, cause I was optimistic and believed it to be simple muscle strain in the lower abdomen.
One month passed, I felt at ease with myself. But lately, this "pain" returned. Definitely not as strong as before, not even half, but now it persists. Some days I can't feel a thing, other days I'm worried a lot because of the discomfort...

A week ago I did some simple push ups. As I felt the pressure on my chest, I felt pressure on my lower abdomen. And the pressure down there made me stop, not the pressure in the chest. And the discomfort started bothering me again ever since that small exercise that I've done millions of times before... Just 20 push ups... I've done way more...

I feel like a handicap... I used to have "unlimited" energy and confidence in myself... Now I have this... pain... it won't leave me, How come 2 minutes of doing that damn exercise all of a sudden can ruin my life in such a way?

I don't want surgery! I'm VERY scared of doctors. I had 2 surgeries for inguinal hernia back when I was a kid... I was treated at a hospital for pneumonia, I got my nose broken, and repaired... I'm fed up with hospital experiences... The fear never goes away once and for all...

I'm scared... I hope I get some feedback on my question...
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hello Fixer,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. I am  so sorry to hear about your symptoms. You are so young to be suffering with chronic pain.

Let me assure you that in all probability may not require surgery. However my dear you must get this pain evaluated.

It seems unusual that you required bilateral inguinal hernia repair as a child. It may be possible that you now have a weakened inguinal area would could extend beyond the surgical site. While strenuous work outs and exercise is normally a healthy choice, heavily pushing yourself way beyond limits of normal may not be healthy for you. If truth be known it's not healthy for most of us. It's important to be fit and healthy but don't push the envelop to the point of injury.

So now what? I would ask ppl that know you if they can tell you anything about the health of your lower abdominal muscular structure. What caused the herniations?  Some questions you might want to ask yourself,  Is there a chance that you could have injured the area? Is your pain close to the inguinal repairs?  Were you repaired with a mesh? Have you torn the mesh? There are so many questions that really need answers. Most of them can come from you and a little investigation.

I strongly encourage you to consult your physician. As much as you are fearful, you should fear what happens if your unknown injury goes unreated? Indeed know that it could get worse. You sound like a bright young man and you know that your pain should be decreasing and not increasing. And I understand that fear in some instances may never go away but it can be and should be placed in it's proper perspective. Don't allow your fear to control you or push you into unwise choices, like not consulting the doctor when needed.

I've looked for information regarding your lower abdominal structure post inguinal hernia repair but have not been successful in finding anything substantial. There are articles that discuss the 4-10% recurrence rate as well as avoiding heavy lifting. The extreme exercise that you engaged in is similar to heavy lifting. So please avoid those types of exercises in the future.

I cannot tell you what type of injury you have sustained. I can suggest that you consult your MD, sooner than later. Please let us know how you are doing. I will look forward to your updates with much interest. Don't ignore this issue. I think you know that you have put it off long enough. You're too intelligent to keep living in needless pain.

I'll be thinking of you and hoping for the very best.

Take Care,
~Tuck
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8 Comments Post a Comment
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1187071_tn?1279373298
I am not sure what you did to hurt your self but I am hoping someone on here will. I can tell you really like to work out and now it is causing you alot of pain to do it. When people like me deal with pain it changes everything in our lifes and it is hard to do the stuff we use to. I know your scared to go the dr but it would be good if you just go to a family dr to see if you did anything major to yourself. I would rather do that then live with the pain for the rest of your life right? If would also be good to get checked out so you can get this treated so you can get back on track with your life.
I wish you only the best.
Jamie
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hello Fixer,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. I am  so sorry to hear about your symptoms. You are so young to be suffering with chronic pain.

Let me assure you that in all probability may not require surgery. However my dear you must get this pain evaluated.

It seems unusual that you required bilateral inguinal hernia repair as a child. It may be possible that you now have a weakened inguinal area would could extend beyond the surgical site. While strenuous work outs and exercise is normally a healthy choice, heavily pushing yourself way beyond limits of normal may not be healthy for you. If truth be known it's not healthy for most of us. It's important to be fit and healthy but don't push the envelop to the point of injury.

So now what? I would ask ppl that know you if they can tell you anything about the health of your lower abdominal muscular structure. What caused the herniations?  Some questions you might want to ask yourself,  Is there a chance that you could have injured the area? Is your pain close to the inguinal repairs?  Were you repaired with a mesh? Have you torn the mesh? There are so many questions that really need answers. Most of them can come from you and a little investigation.

I strongly encourage you to consult your physician. As much as you are fearful, you should fear what happens if your unknown injury goes unreated? Indeed know that it could get worse. You sound like a bright young man and you know that your pain should be decreasing and not increasing. And I understand that fear in some instances may never go away but it can be and should be placed in it's proper perspective. Don't allow your fear to control you or push you into unwise choices, like not consulting the doctor when needed.

I've looked for information regarding your lower abdominal structure post inguinal hernia repair but have not been successful in finding anything substantial. There are articles that discuss the 4-10% recurrence rate as well as avoiding heavy lifting. The extreme exercise that you engaged in is similar to heavy lifting. So please avoid those types of exercises in the future.

I cannot tell you what type of injury you have sustained. I can suggest that you consult your MD, sooner than later. Please let us know how you are doing. I will look forward to your updates with much interest. Don't ignore this issue. I think you know that you have put it off long enough. You're too intelligent to keep living in needless pain.

I'll be thinking of you and hoping for the very best.

Take Care,
~Tuck
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1378094_tn?1278959660
Thanks for the feedback. I'm cosidering going to the doctor. This Thursday I have an important college exam. I'll visit my MD after I'm done with that.

I really hope this whole thing goes away quietly.
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547368_tn?1332173665
I hope it goes away "quietly" also. It could.

I am so glad you are going to consult your Doc. Please let us know how it goes.
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1378094_tn?1278959660
Alright, my college exam passed and going to the doctor was next on my priority list.

Here's what happened.

Today I did not feel any abdominal pain. Altough I did feel slight discomfort and I decided to visit our family doctor anyway.

I went to the church, I'm not a strong believer, but I prayed that the doctor will say that I'm okay.

Then I set off for the clinic, there was no queue. Usually the place is PACKED. I entered the doctor's office, I explained my situation, the way I explained it in my first post, what I did, and what I feel now.

The doctor asked me some questions, then I layed down, the doctor felt my abdomen and said that what I feel must be muscle strain, cause there are no symptoms for anything else.

The doctors kinda gave me a look in way that as if I'm wasting their time...

Well, I left with relief. I will withdraw from training for a week or two, I won't do anything that might trigger the pain again.

For now, this is it.

At least none of things I worried about didn't come true.
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82861_tn?1333457511
Tuck did a beautiful job saying everything I could think of on the medical end, so I'll address something entirely different:  your workout philosophy.  There is no such thing as spot reducing.  In other words you want to get rid of extra fat around your abdomen so you performed an exercise you weren't ready for and hurt yourself.  All the abdominal exercises in the world won't get rid of extra fat in that area.  

Cardiovascular exercise is absolutely necessary to burn fat anywhere in the body.  Cardio burns fat; weightlifting and resistance exercises build muscle.  It's a two-part process that can't be avoided for optimum results.  You should be getting plenty of cardio with the martial arts training (unless it's tai chi) so there's not much need to do any more other than a warmup before hitting the weights.  I can personally recommend the Cha Yon Ryu system of traditional martial arts for not only a physical education but a mental education.  This system is very traditional and more about personal growth than fighting and racking up tournament trophies.  If you're in a system that only focuses on fighting and winning - either in class or in a tournament - you might want to reevaluate what you really want from it.

Diet and rest are very important in building muscle mass.  Muscle tissue needs protein to repair itself and grow larger. Instead of 3 meals a day, have 4 or 5 small high protein meals and you'll get a metabolism boost.  You'll actually burn calories while your muscles are repairing themselves and you aren't actively working out.

When you engage in any exercise that results in the "burns" that is a sign of muscle breakdown and is a good thing IF you allow sufficient recovery time.  If you burn the same muscles every day, they will never get bigger or stronger because they've had no chance to repair the microscopic damage that occurs during the workouts.  I've found that rotating muscle groups over a two or even three day period keeps you in the gym, active, and allows plenty of rest.  Initially, you might try an upper/lower body split.  

Day 1:  Upper body and abs, some cardio
Day 2:  Lower body, some cardio
Day 3:  Cardio only - 30 to 60 minutes
Day 4:  Upper body and abs, some cardio
Day 5:  Lower body, some cardio
Day 6:  Cardio only, some cardio
Day 7:  REST ONLY

How much weight is enough to lose fat and increase muscle mass?  It depends on the individual person.  Generally, lighter weights with lots of reps and three or more sets result in little muscle growth but more fat loss and calorie usage.  As weight increases, the number of repetititions should decrease.  The numbers on the weights don't matter.  What does matter is your body's response to weight.  You'll want to determine how many reps at a given weight result in muscle fatigue (burns, and you can't do one more rep).  

16 to 20 reps result in muscle fatigue:  light weight - more of a cardio/ toning workout
10 to 15 reps:  moderate weight
6 to 10 reps:  heavy weight
less than 6 reps: super heavy weight. Do not attempt as a beginner!

Perform 3 sets of any exercise at light or moderate weight.  Perform 2 sets of heavy weight, and one set of super heavy weight.  It's pretty much common sense once you understand muscle physiology.

If you are still noticeably sore when you get back to working a muscle group, you haven't rested it long enough.  If you forge ahead, you won't get stronger and won't build muscle mass.  Recovery time is really that important and most people don't either don't realize that fact or outright don't believe it.  It's not about how much weight you can move or how difficult the exercise may be.  It's about understanding basic body mechanics and physiology.

If you can swing it, hire a good personal trainer for a few sessions to help determine an effective workout schedule that will match your goals and also work around the abdominal injury.  Best of luck to you!  :-)
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1378094_tn?1278959660
Very informative post, thank you.
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547368_tn?1332173665
I am so glad you consulted your physician. Now you do not have to be "scared" any more. I doubt the physician felt you were wasting their time. They see your type of injuries almost daily...they just had nothing to offer you. However I am not disregarding your feelings. I am sure that it felt that way to you but I certainly hope that was not the case.

In my opinion you do need to be concerned about returning to training too soon. The mere fact that you are getting better should indicate that rest is your best choice of treatment right now.

Only preform the training that does not duplicate the initial pain. Strains can take months to heal and months longer if you do not allow it to heal properly. Jaybay's suggestion of consulting a personal trainer is a good one. Just please don't rush back into working the injured area.

I am so very glad to hear that you beleive in prayer. I do also and can attest to it's powers. You take care our new friend and please keep in touch, let us know how you are progressing.

My Best to You,
~Tuck
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