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Abdominal Muscle Spasms
For almost 1 year now I have had horrible muscle spasms in my abs when I do sit ups. I do a lot of running and other exercise and my abs never tighten up like that any other time other than doing sit ups. Everytime I try to do sit ups I can get through about 10 then the upper right abdominal area completely tightens and feels like a really really bad charlie horse. I'm just looking for any advice or experience with this that anyone can give me. I saw my family doctor and he said it's not a hernia and it could maybe be my gallbladder. With everything I've read online about gallbladders it doesn't seem like that is it to me. Just wondering if anyone can give me some help!
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2174073 tn?1337408377
I have the exact challenge, I take magnesium/zinc for it.

Before bed I jack up my pH to 8.5 by drinking Baking Soda mixed with water!
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I have had the very same problem for couple years now>I blame mine on  chemo,however  i needed to find a blame!! But you are so right by massaging the cramping muscle away! Wished there was a answer for all of us that would just make it go away forever!!
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For the people how are having upper ab spasms with exercise, it is simply because your upper rectus abdominus muscles are too tight.  This does not equate to too strong, just too tight.  They need to be massaged and stetched, it will take a few weeks, but things will start feeling better.  DO NOT DO SIT UPS WHILE YOU HAVE THIS CONDITION, as it will only serve to further tighten already hyperactive muscles.  You really shouldn't do situps anyway because they are an almost worthless exercise, especially if you are trying to rid yourself of belly fat.  One muscle worked (rectus abdominus), plus its a small muscle, equals minimal calories burned equals almost no fat lost.  Do different forms of the plank instead.
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This has happened to me to few times In the last few years. I am 35 years old and work out 3-4 times per plus run about 15-20 moles per week. I always work abs in with my weight training. It happens mostly when doing an ab exercise.  It's comes fast and painful just like a charlie horse strain. I can see my ab muscle bulge up from under my skin. It's  like when you pull both ends up a jolly rancher wrapper and it spins around to unwrap. Very painful. I usually just aggressively massage the muscle back down to its natural position and size. I really wish I knew how to prevent this from happening. Only thing I can come up with was better hydration.
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Hi. I'm a 25 year old female who has had the exact same CHARLIE  HORSE spasms in my upper left side of abdominal since I was 21. The first time I had these Spasms I was having a bowel movement I thought holy smokes am I in labor and didn't know I was pregnant!? Bc it felt pretty darn close! ( I wasn't)  but I had to use " he he whooooo" breathing technique to get through cramping.. Other times it happens while throwing up when sick ( morning sickness, stomach bug ect...) doing sit ups and two days ago I was getting waxed and I tensed up and WHAM did it again! Now dr says dehydration I say hogwash bc I drink at least 80 oz aday of water! I'm frustrated and just don't know what's going on. I'm not fat I go to gym  3 to 4 times a week and I just want some help!
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I am a physically fit 45 yr old  male. The last 6 days I've been getting muscle spasms on the upper right side of my abs. There is no pain, but I'm worried it could be serious, since it has lasted for almost a week. A friend suggested it could be due to IBS, but I have been fairly normal with my Bowel movements.
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I thought that I was the only one!!! I have the exact scenario.  After my 2nd child and an emergency c-section I can no longer do sit ups.  The pain is excruciating.  You can see the muscles jump during the spasm.  I saw an episode on Dr. Oz where a woman was having the same problem and the doctors had to go in and sew her ab muscles back together because they were ripped down the middle.  
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My husband is also having this horrible abdominal (muscle) pain.  His started about six years ago.  It usually starts below the chest and when the muscle spasms it extends out where you can see it.  It can last about 30 seconds, then will subside only to come back in a minute or so.  It also spasms in all four quadrants of his abdomen.  Sometimes, the spasms will last only about 15 minutes and the longest attack lasted 14 hours.  He has COPD (breathing disease) and one doctor said it was caused by his coughing so hard.  We've gone to numerous doctors and about eight trips to the emergency room.  They give him pain medication, then send him home when the spasms end.  The last attack about a month ago was the 14 hour one and we finally went to the ER again, even though we never get any help.  This time, they gave him morphine, and admitted him.  He's had about 12 CT scans, but no other tests.  This time, we were optimistic since they admitted him.  Again, no other tests were done.  We had a surgeon come in and we though he would have something that could be done, but he had never heard of this type of pain.  He was set up to to to physical therapy to try and build up the abdominal muscles, and had his first visit today.  Through the years, we have found a hand held heavy duty massager helps, along with hot showers and a heating pad.  Unlike a lot of posters here, he's not athletic.  He's 70 years old, and 25 pounds overweight.  I'm sure his weight contributes to it, and I'm now trying to help him lose weight.  I'm trying to get him to walk and get some exercise also.  It's hard to believe no one can figure out why people get this pain and how to get rid of it.  A lot of posters have recommended magnesium and potassium, so I've started him on those.  We are willing to try anything to get him some relief.  It's so hard wondering when the next attack will happen.  We've learned it happens when he bends over or twists, so he's learning not to do these things.  With all the doctors, we can't get them to do any tests, which is very frustrating.  All they have done is the Ct scans.  They say this shows all the organs and is much better than other tests.  He did have an upper GI test about six months ago which showed he had bad ulcers.  We were excited thinking this was the cause, but nothing has changed except his ulcers are healing.  I will continue to monitor this and hopefully soon, someone will have a solution we can investigate.  Good luck to everyone!
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I have had this same issue now for the past 4 years.  It started about a year after my 2nd c-section.  I was convinced someone left something in me.  I started getting charlie horses just getting under my bedsheets and using my abs.  I had them during pilates if I sat in one position for too long.  I would go to tie my shoes or put my strap on my heel and if I stood in the same position, it would go into a cramp!  It hurts so bad.  I have also been sick once while throwing up over the toilet, my stomach went into a charlie horse and I thought I was literally going to die!    The doctor at first just shrugged his shoulders not knowing what it was and just kind of said hmmm.

I later went to a plastic surgeon unhappy with the exterior of my belly after 2 csections and he assured me that I needed muscle repair.  I thought it would be the complete answer to my issues.  Lax muscles, seperated muscles, ect.  Well it's been over a year since my surgery to repair the muscles and guess what came back?  YES.  The muscle spasm/charlie horses.  I finally went in and had a CT scan.  They came back and found nothing.  My doctor thinks they may be adhesions attatching themselves to the insides causing havoc in there.  Adhesions are just like clumps of scar tissue.  They now want me to have exploratory surgery however if it is adhesions, I'm now adding more scar tissue to my body by going in.  I am on the fence as to what I should do.  
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Would you believe it when I tell you that I have had this abdominal spasm on and off for about 20 years?  It involves my side/flank muscles and back muscles as well!!  It's hell on earth when I have a bad episode.  I noticed the person who said it is worse when you're constipated, and that has been my experience also.  Right now it's been happening for the last five days ever since I last vacuumed the living room and dining room.  That's all I did.  Yesterday afternoon I even went to Emergency but the doc there didn't help and sent me home with Tylenol #3 and some Naprosyn.  I need a strong muscle relaxant, not an anti-inflammatory!  So, tomorrow I will be on the hunt again for someone who has enough training to know how to help me.  Does anyone know what helps besides Potassium?  You have to be careful with that because too much of it can cause other problems and you don't want too high a Potassium count in your system.  Such a dilemma.  
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Would you believe it when I tell you that I have had this abdominal spasm on and off for about 20 years?  It involves my side/flank muscles and back muscles as well!!  It's hell on earth when I have a bad episode.  I noticed the person who said it is worse when you're constipated, and that has been my experience also.  Right now it's been happening for the last five days ever since I last vacuumed the living room and dining room.  That's all I did.  Yesterday afternoon I even went to Emergency but the doc there didn't help and sent me home with Tylenol #3 and some Naprosyn.  I need a strong muscle relaxant, not an anti-inflammatory!  So, tomorrow I will be on the hunt again for someone who has enough training to know how to help me.  Does anyone know what helps besides Potassium?  You have to be careful with that because too much of it can cause other problems and you don't want too high a Potassium count in your system.  Such a dilemma.  
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I gave birth to my one and only child when I was 35.  About a year later, these spasms started happening.  They were so bad I could barely breathe. I could un-knot the muscle by laying down and stretching out the muscle. I would then make a fist and work my knuckles into the muscle.  I would feel the muscle un-knot and I would be fine.  I did this for about five years.  I then lost 30 pounds and starting working out 3x a week.  I worked my total body and got in really good shape--the spasms went away completely for years.  I then (due to an injury) had to stop working out and gained about 20 pounds.  I was out of shape and the spasms started coming back --though not as bad. I am now dieting and working out again---I'm sure I will get rid of the spasms once I am back in shape.
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I have abdominal spasms and just called my rheum dr to find out what I can do. I also have fibromyalgia. My dr. just said to do abdominal stretches. She said she hasn't heard of this before with fibro pts. I have read many posts from pts with fibro and some have the same problem. The last time it came on which is always unexpectedly, I wanted to call an ambulance. I begun doing breathing( like in labor) and kneading the area. It did finally subside. I wish there were a solution to never having this to begin with.  You are not alone.
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Did you get solution yet , i only experience stomach muscle cramps , when i n dehydrated so drink lots of water. Herbie w
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I have a similar problem when bending over or straightening quickly, or even twisting my torso to reach something. It is in my upper left ab close to my ribs, and it feels like something spasming or twisting up inside. I have had a bulge when it happens, and it is extremely painful. Doesn't last very long but always scares me, I worry that my intestines are twisting up.  No help from the doc, she feels it could be a separation of the abdominal midline from pregnancy, but I keep saying that it is over to the left. Any new developments for you?
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Hi Jbeaugh, did you ever get a final diagnosis of your symptoms and a cure? I have been experiencing similar symptoms for the past 4 years. I get random cramping in my stomach that leaves me in excruciating pain and hospitalised once. All tests came back fine and doctors are baffled by it. The pain makes me vomit and feel close to fainting and is so debilitating as it can happen day or night and with no warning. Any info on what you found out regarding your symptoms would be appreciated. Thanks
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I have had the same problem on and off for about 4 years now after lifting a heavy dining room table...the pain is awful! I had this happen today to me at work...I quickly took an aspirin and it took the pain away within 5 minutes. I am going to make sure that I have that with me at all times now because the pain is so disabiling...the aspirin seemed to work wonders!
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I know it has been awhile, but did you ever find out what the specifics were.
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I've have these same intense and excruciating abdominal muscle cramps for a couple of years. They seemed to be getting worse, would come at different spots up and down the abdomen, either side, hit and go, only to repeat several times before they finally calmed. Tried everything, much of what I read here. Mostly set off when doing anything that involved bending forward, be it exercise or just putting on a sock. Hit several times a day. Unbearably painful!

Had all the usual tests: normal; no imbalances, hernia, etc etc. Lots of water, no deficiencies. Had muscle separation, but he insisted that was not the cause.

Finally, my doctor said that SOME people find help by taking TONIC WATER. Anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But at this point I was willing to try anything. He said to start with 4 to 6 oz, one to two times a day (morning and evening). The smaller amount helped me in 2 days, but I still had some painful spasms every day, though not quite as intense or long-lasting.

Finally worked up to 3 ounces twice a day, and it's kept them at bay, about 90% gone, unless I am not careful to back off immediately if I overdo one of the positions that brings it on. Even then, it will back off, whereas before I would have been in for a horribly painful session, regardless of whatever I did.

PLEASE NOTE: the regular cheapo tonic water has either sugar or high fructose corn syrup. HORRIBLE for health. So I chose Schweppes Diet Tonic water; sure, it has saccarine, but better that debilitating muscle cramps many times a day for life!!! I measure out my doses into a mug, add a little squirt of liquid stevia and about 6 ounces of water (tonic water is quite bitter alone!) and sip it slowly til gone. Repeat in the early evening. (kind of like having a gin n tonic, minus the gin, ha ha)

Believe me: my body tells me within several HOURS if I miss a dose, with spasms!!! So, it is not a "cure", but it does calm down the muscles. My doctor said it is the QUININE in the tonic water that does it, for some people (He said it doesn't work for everyone, unfortunately). They do make quinine prescription tablets, but only one company holds the patent now, and it's ridiculously expensive.

So, talk to your doc, and if approved, try tonic water. It helped me, it might help you.

I hope this gives relief to any fellow muscle spasm sufferers!
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I've also been experiencing the muscle spasms in my abdominals.  A couple of things I've noted from the posts:
1.  Many people are active runners or otherwise exercise regularly
2.  Some people have had trauma to their abdominals
3.  The event comes on after some level of exercise
In my case, the symptoms started appearing a few months after I had a weird experience with my abdominals.  Out of the blue they started spasming in waves like contractions over a 6-8 hr period.  I was actually hospitalized.  Lots of tests were run and nothing was discovered.  My ER doctor friend says he has seen this, usually with women.  No cause is typically found.  I first experienced the charlie horse when I tried to do crunches right after running.  I  now don't do ab work until well after I do cardio.  That seems to help.  Maybe doing in the very beginning of a work out is even better.  The magnesium might help also, but I had recent blood work and all levels were good.  Of course drinking water is always good, but I'm also thinking that this is probably not a major culprit because most people have been regular exercisers and probably have o.k. habits with water drinking.  Or, even if they don't, it doesn't really explain why the charlie horses just start out of nowhere.  It almost seems that once your body grooves a spasm response, it just keeps happening.  We probably just need to be extra careful about when we do the ab work.  If you do early in workout and low reps, all the muscles will be less tired and you'll be less likely to be dehydrated.  I'm hoping by trying this I can retrain my body's response.

Has anyone actually tried the magnesium supplements and have they helped?
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I am convinced it is related to scar tissue. I never had this problem until I had abdominal surgery. I first had surgery in my lower left groin area. The cramping occurs in the exact area of my surgical scar; if I move a certain way, I get a SEVERE charlie horse type muscle spasm in that area. I can hardly move or breathe. A few years later I had surgery on my right side, upper quadrant area, and now I get the same muscle spasm there too. Same exact thing, when I move a certain way. All my labs are normal.
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Thanks, I will try it.  Soda stream has a tonic water flavor.  I'll check it out to see if  quinine is an ingredient.  I have had this similar problem for over 50 years.  IBS is the fuzzy conclusion.  I just know it hurts, is stressful and scary.
Can you obtain quinine from other sources besides a prescription?  Maybe worth looking into
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Hey Everyone,

I'm going to share my own theory part A and part B which I think are behind the infamous stomach cramp phenomena that I came up with all on my own. I have these stomach cramp problems too; ESPECIALLY when I'm doing my declines and I would like to be rid of them for good.

So, when my stomach cramps of course I stop the set right on the spot. One thing I've noticed is that when it does happen I'm not breathing properly. My theory A is that you are not breathing properly. Now, I'll be doing great at trying hard and making sure to get a solid rep so that I can feel my abdominals squeeze; but often times when I cramp up I'm not breathing and by breathe I mean inhaling and exhaling at the right time. What I do is I will be holding my breathe trying as hard as I can to finish the rep and I think I've been making the same mistake for years. Who know's that when your doing the bench press or any kind of workout that you inhale while working the negative, or going down, and exhale when working the positive, when coming up? If you breathe properly your abs won't feel as strong as they do when your holding your breath. If you breathe properly your muscles will get a higher quality workout and the cramps won't happen, period. Also if you breathe properly your abdominals will literally feel and be weaker; but they will get stronger over time until you eventually won't have the cramping issue any more. This is theory A; which is the first part of my stomach cramp theory.

This is part B of my stomach cramping theory and is to be combined, used in conjunction and as a part of theory A. Stomach cramp theory B is that the stomach cramping issue is partially a cosmetics/ego issue. Now, how many people guys/girls like having their belly stick out in public while wearing a pair of jeans or while they're at the beach shirtless/in bikini's? Nobody! My second theory is that because people want to appear more fit they suck their stomachs in in public to fit into that pair of jeans or when they're at the beach in their swimming clothes. Now, when you suck in your stomach your muscles have to suck in too so that your belly can appear flat while it is sucked in. My theory is simply that people do it so often that it actually weakens and deforms their abdominal muscles. Sucking in your belly weakens your abs in such a way that when you go to do your sit ups that not only are you not breathing properly in good form; but your stomach is accustomed to being sucked in, deformed from being sucked in and thereby weakened from being repeatedly sucking in your stomach day after day.

Part A and B combined. If you don't suck in your stomach under any circumstances ever again and breathe or inhale and exhale properly when performing your ab exercises I believe that you will have fewer and fewer stomach cramps over time and that your abdominals will be continually strengthened until you no longer have the cramps when working out. This means sacrificing looking good until you actually have the real deal flat stomach and taking the time to always be conscious that you are inhaling and exhaling when working out. If you build the discipline to be able to remember to inhale and exhale properly and sacrifice the superficial flat stomach until you have the real deal then my theory is simply that you will not have the stomach cramps, period. In conclusion and in my opinion in order to solve the riddle you must sacrifice sucking in your stomach and you must begin to discipline yourself in breathing in order to not cramp up.


I know that was a lot! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.



Sincerely, TDAN21  
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Hi Everyone - I am an official member of the club too!  After 12 years of dealing with this so called rib muscle cramping, I beleive mine was brougt on by an excruciating delivery of my daughter.  I pushed for over 2 hours....and I am almost certain some kind of muscular damage was done at that time.  It was soon after my delivery that I started getting these awful spasms/cramps in my rib cage muscels when I would bend over for anything.  It was any motion that mimmiced an ab "crunch".  It happened regularly for a while, and then when I got back into the gym to start working out again regularly, that is when they really got bad any with any kind of ab work.  I would immeidately have to stop what I was doing, lay flat, extend my arm, and use my other hand to try and massage the cramp out.  Of course, I looked like a fruit cake to everyone else as they didn't understand what I was going through.  
My journey led me to seek Physical Therapy for a few months.  The PT thought I was something of a phenomenon as he had never seen anything like it.  He gave those exercises to do, that help open/expand the rib cage.  Of course they helped as long as I kept up with them, but the cramps have never gone away.  I have also read and educated myself about how crunches are not even the best way or proper way to work out your abs.  Plank is the best!  I can do plank fairly well, but if I really push myself, the cramps start.  It's just about knowing your body and what your limits are.  Good luck to all.
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Does it give you trouble after eating...almost as if pain is caused by contents pushing out on the tear?
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Wow- I have a similar remedy when the spasms hit: I sort of hang from a door frame by hooking my fingers over the trim and stretching.  I'm so happy to have found this tread- I thought I was the only one.  No help from doctors either....
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years and years of suffering ,sit ups ,sneezing,laughing(maybe the worst),putting on socks,swimming(very bad),had to give up martial arts you name it anything could cause a plethora of spasms like movements in my abdominal region and back.On  May 13 2012 I started taking a supplement called Tangy Tangerine(I never buy these types of things,a friend gave  it to me because sleeping problems and a lack of energy).On May 19 2012 I had  an  ex-employee  set me up for a home invasion,was struck twice in the face/skull with a hatchet ,lost a lot of blood but fought my way out of house(2 guys).When I went to the hospital I told the nurses of my condition and expected a spasm for hours ,I did not have a spasm for four days(which the nurses recorded).when I returned home  I started  taking Tang Tangerine again and my spasms were greatly reduced.I still have a spasm now and then,but are much less painful and much shorter in duration.most often occurs when doing any sit up type of movement.   Good luck I lived in hell for years
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Read my post on Tangy Tangerine
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orgasms ARE muscle spasms
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I have 3 children, I use to do a lot of stomach crunches when I was younger until 10 yrs ago, I went to a local yoga class, and all I did was touch my toes and my stomach locked the first time , it was scary everyone thought I was having a heart attack ! As I stood up slowly doing deep breaths it went down. Since then every time I bend wrongly ( without bending at the knee) sometimes when I sneeze or constipated !! It does not happen that often but I panic when it happens. I had a stomach camera and found I had pollups which were non cancer but caused by too much stomach acid. So if I eat anything too fattening ,or acidy my stomach bloats and cramps. So I have to be careful what I eat ! I have Nexium tablets plus I drink warm lemon water which helps plus I take magnesium tablets after a big meal so I am not constipated . Someone told me to drink Aloe Vera which helps the stomach too !
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Based on all the comments, it's not the same problem everyone is having. There are some women who have it post child birth, some that are just out of shape trying to get back in shape too intensely, and some that are in good shape but suddenly start having it out of the blue.
I myself had it a few times, the one I had yesterday was really bad, hence I'm here being relieved knowing I'm not the only one.

One thing I did notice, and a few of you already mentioned it - when it happens, try to gently massage it... I know it hurts like hell and you don't want to move or touch it, but for me, it helped to get it away. I was back in able to move around in 10-15 minutes. feel the tense spot with your hand and massage it lightly and you'll feel how the tissue softens under your fingers and pain eases a bit.

I too, will try to drink more water, electrolytes and up my potassium intake, even though I drank a whole bottle of gatorade while exercising yesterday... I guess, it wasn't enough.
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You've obviously not experienced the pain that many of us are having or you would not have made such a mean comment. I had 'charley horses' in my legs when I was pregnant 23 years ago. The muscle spasms and/or 'charley horses' I have in my stomach/ribs/groin area now are 100x worse than those. My doctors have not found what is causing the muscle spasm problem; I've had CTs, MRIs, x-rays...and I'm scheduled to have a scope inserted down my throat and another up my 'south' end in a couple of weeks.You are entitled to your opinion, but please do not make light of any pain being experienced by others. So, whether our intense muscle spasm pains come from vitamin deficiency, electrolyte imbalance, injury, being overweight, being underweight, too much exercise, not enough exercise, difficult pregancies, old age, constapation, coughing, sneezing, or a combination of these...please know that the pain is real and it is intense.
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Hi there, this sounds a lot like what I think I suffer from.  It's called Intercostal Neuralgia. Here is more info on it: www.localhealth.com/article/intercostal-neuralgia/symptoms. I'd mention this your doctor.
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Oh, God. I have researched this subject so much, but this is the first thread in which people have the exact same symptoms. The worst time is while DRIVING! It is awful. I have had to pull over and park. Also, this has happened to me on airplanes. Once, we had a pretty "rough" landing that caused us to lean forward suddenly in our seats. Well, while everyone was laughing, I was almost in tears because of an abdominal cramp. And, because we were landing in Washington, DC., they refused to let me stand up (used to be a rule - everyone seated in DC 30 minutes before landing until the door is open). HELP!!!!!
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I don't think it is Interostal Neuralgia. That disease seems to have a number of symptoms other than pain, including nausea, heart palpitations, mucus discharge, etc. We are mainly experiencing muscular spasms in the upper-abdomen.
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I have the same pain left side why doesn't someone do sit ups in the doctors office and then let them see the spasm.
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I think they are all related somehow. I don't know how but I know after reading all these posts, I am not alone. Thank God. And all these Doctors out there are not doing enough, in my opinion. I believe my muscles in my stomach are seperated from having three C-sections and I have adhesions. I noticed the adhesions first then years later the cramps and spasms started coming just from bending over to pick something up or sometimes leaning a certain way. All pain is on my left side. I take magnesium but have to be careful because I take high blood pressure medicine. My salt intake is low and I don't think magnesium helps that much. I drink plenty of water. Have not tried the potassium. I take a C supplement and multi B supplement and D supplement. The only thing that helps me is to get up and stretch and stay that way for a few minutes. Tried the massage thing, not much help. If there are any Doctors out there please help. Maybe Dr. Oz can help. There has to be an answer somewhere.
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I also get cramping under my left breast, sometimes so bad that it pulls the muscle and hurts for days after. I think I've eliminated the possibility that it's a potassium or magnesium deficiency, and I only drink water, and I'm on a whole foods plant based diet and take multivitamins and B-12.

The only guess that I can come up with is spinal stenosis, I looked the symptoms of stenosis and cramping is one of them.  I'm going to the spine center in my area in the next few weeks and I'm going to ask them if there is any surgery that can help, I am no medical expert but if the bone from my spine is pushing on the spinal cord or nerves, I would imagine that it could cause this problem.

Wish me luck.
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I have these exact symptoms.  I'm a nurse and used to be a gymnast.  I thought I had a hernia but it feels more like a muscle that could have been torn.  I have seen two surgeons.  I think I could have Injured myself on a machine that works the abdomen by twisting again resistance.  Lime you , I can't do any abdomen workout.  I'm think I B-) maybe boric injections may help.  Going to talk with another doctor about this.  
Stephani
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I am glad I found this cite. I do have a hiatal hernia, s when I do sit ups and crunches, I can expect for the upper right quadrant to tighten and release, all I do is put my arms up over my head and it goes away, however I was at the gym this morning and that same tightening feeling happen in the lower abs.  What is going on down there?!  If I can get some feed back, I would greatly appreciate it
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I have recently started having this happen too. I have not asked my Dr. about it but it feels like my intestine is getting twisted or something. It is a very uncomfortable feeling and when it happens I worry that things (my organs) won't pop back into place. I do have alot of stomach fat but I am afraid to bend because I hate the feeling!
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Have you found any answers on this yet
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I've had the same pain as most of you are describing on both sides right below my ribs. Thankfully it only happens on one side at a time. Caused by bending and tightening muscles at the same time, i.e. sneezing when bent over (guaranteed cause, lol). Only fix is to try to stretch it out and can be tender for days aterwards. I have always had strong ab muscles, so weakness is not the issue. This started 23 years ago following a c-section. I've suspected my muscles were damaged when they tried to turn the baby externally. This entails docs trying to grab the baby's head and hips through all the layers of your abdomen. Didnt work so they kept trying to no avail. Horrible experience. Previous docs blew me off about it. Will ask my new doc. There is comfort in knowing we're not alone but with so many women experiencing this, I'm appalled no one knows the answer. Will keep you posted if I learn anything and hope the rest of you will do the same.  
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Wow i had a c-section in Jan 2016. Never before this have i ever experienced abdominal cramping. It's so damn painful it feels so unreal when my stomach muscles lock up.
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I have never posted anything on line before but i am so pleased to have found this thread i am doing so! i have the same symptoms. They started after my 2nd child ten years ago (both c sections) and then i did a lot of abdominal work for the first time in my life. i think i overworked the muscles. Anyway i describe it to people as if i have an alien in my stomach - it is always after i have been scrunched up and then come out of that position. It can happen on both sides of my abdomen and i can see an actual bulge appear and move for a few seconds.  Its so weird! i push hard at it and it will go away but then ache a little afterwards. I stopped doing stomach work for years because of it and it pretty much went away but recently I have started pilates - doing lots of core work-  and its happened straight away. I did years ago see lots of hernia guys and had a MRI exactly as  most people here also have but definitely not hernias and eventually a sports doctor said he thought it was tears in the stomach muscles. I am interested in what people think is the  best thing to do as regard stomach exercises as i feel i need to exercise my core (I'm 49) and fit -  but dont know how to go about it?
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I experience the same problem since I had my tubes tied. It feels like a rope tying a knot in my stomach when I do the situps. When I push my stomach in they then begin to relax. It makes it hard to try to lose weight in that area due to this problem. I wonder what can be done also.
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Best thing Ito do when this happens is to stand up and walk around. It will go away within 30 seconds.

This happens to me too A LOT.  I have had 2 c sections within 3 years. I am athletic. I weigh 130 right now.... 115lbs pre-prego.

I get the muscle spasms usually about 2-3 times each workout session. And by workout, I mean I live on a farm. Today I was lifting and moving railroad ties to build raised gardens.

I get muscle spasms with what feels like overlapping of something inside me. Once the overlap clears, it feels better again. I always have to get up and walk it off to make the overlap go back in place.

It has happened twice while I was driving. I had to pull over and get out to make the pain stop.
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I'm 25 and I started getting the charlie horses under my right rib a few months ago.  I do heavy weight lifting, which seems to be in line with the physical activity that most of the previous comments talk about.  It's possible that I could have a muscle tear I guess.  Something else that might be worth looking into is a condition called "splenic flexure syndrome", which is basically gas caught in the splenic flexure.  The splenic flexure is located precisely in the area where the cramping happens.  I'm leaning toward this as the cause of my charlie horses.
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Me too!  This has been happening for YEARS!  I had my gallbladder removed 12 days ago. Today, I was putting lotion on my legs, bent over while sitting , and bam!  It happened again! I sat right up straight.
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The reason your abdominal Muscle spasm or seized up is because your body is trying to protect your spine and preventing you from doing the action that your are doing.  Whatever you are doing at that moment is causing your spine disc to bulge or herniate out.  The more bulging of your disc the easily you will get spasm during exercise.  

Do an MRI to from out about the condition of your spine
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I can9;t believe so many people have this same problem. I have been to every doctor I can think of and nothing. The pain is preventing me from working out because the fear of the pain. It happens all the time now. I have had several MRI's gull bladder out and still continues.  I also feel that is getting bigger or covers more area now. I am so frustrated but don't know what else to do. My back is hurting more now because I avoid using the stomach muscles. Ugh. Would a MRI show the spine issue if they weren't looking for it. Stomach MRI will show back issues?
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Amazing to find others!!!!   I had breast cancer and reconstruction using abdominal fat -- minimal muscle involvement. However, 6 months later my abdominal wall was overall weak and distended.  So I a a 10" square of mesh inserted to strengthen it.  Shortly after this, my spasms started.  Incredible pain at the most unexpected times.  I was beginning to think it was mesh related, but have not seen that mentioned by others. So, I lean toward adhesions, scar tissue or surgical staples.  
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So many people! I thought I was crazy describing the pain in my abs as a charlie horse. Or at least people looked at me like I was nuts when I describe it. I am very active and muscular. I was morbidly obese for most of my life, since childhood, up until 12 years ago. In 2005, at 389lbs and 43yo, I began a journey and finally figured out what worked for me to lose weight. I lost 250lbs without weight loss surgery. After that, I did have reconstruction / skin removal surgery. They took 52lbs of skin off my body. I work out a lot and found my body responds well to lifting weights. However, for the past year, one side or the other, just under my breast bone, I get this incredible pain that doubles me over, clutching at my abs. If you didn't know me, you'd think I was having a heart attack. It's always been the top set of abs muscles and on one side or the other, never both sides at the same time. You can see the muscle bulge. If I catch it in time and stand up, put my arms above my head and stretch as far as I can, I can stop it. But sometimes it comes on sooooo fast that I can't catch it in time. Yesterday, I did about an hour of power lifting and then about 30 minutes of racquetball. Afterwards, as I was about to sit down on a mat and do some stretching, my entire ride side of my abs instantly seized up and I was frozen, because any movement actually made it worse. I was in an awkward position, sitting on the mat, leaning backwards, but not fully down yet. After a few minutes it finally stopped. I laid down and did some minor stretching, I was afraid to do more. Last night, laying in bed, my lower right ab seized, but it only lasted a minute. It actually felt like someone had traced their finger across my stomach and into the spot where it seized up. There is no rhyme or reason to them happening. It's not only when I work out, or after I work out. It happens on days when I don't work out too. I can be bending down to pick something up that fell and it'll happen. I can just be sitting on the couch and it happens. Just now, sitting at the computer WHAM, it happens. No one seems to know what causes it and many don't even understand. I had a neuromuscular therapist say that my electrolytes might be low and for me to drink some Gatorade. YUCK! I'll try it because I'm desperate for an answer. I wonder, as someone mentioned above, if surgical adhesion's might have something to do with it, but then ask why after so many years? When they took the skin hanging from my belly (28lbs of skin), they also fixed a hernia at the same time, but found hole by the hernia was very small, so no mesh was needed. I do have scars across the top of my abs and also across the top of my hips/pelvic area. But again, surgery was YEARS ago. My last surgery was August 2008. It's so frustrating!
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I'm so glad I'm not the only one with this weird issue.  My muscle spasm is only on the right side.  It started immediately after the birth of my child; however, I do recall it once before as a child because it scared me so.  If I bend over toward the right like to tie my shoe every now and then it will lock up and sort of protrude out. It then rolls up and down and stops.  I have always wondered if it was caused by a torn muscle that just will not heal after 15 years.  I have noticed it is a lot worse if I am a little dehydrated.  I have the spasms more intensely and often every time I get the stomach flu or intestinal issues.  This makes me think it really is muscle related.  I thought the first few times it was a rib popping out.  The pain really does take my breath away for the minute it holds on then it stops.  It does remain tender sometimes , but it is fine after that until next time.  I wonder if it could be related to potassium deficency and dehydration like with Charlie horses?
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I am another person with this problem. After searching for 30 years I found some answers. My diaphragm and the muscles that run from my hip to the diaphragm both spasm, intermittently. I now know what is causing my spasms and I do have some general advice for people. For me, it is caused by my ketophis, what is commonly called dowagers hump, but it isn't osteoporosis. Mine is caused by my habitual bad posture. At the age of 67 I finally found someone who could explain what is happening to me. Just having someone believe me was a big step . Now I am doing exercises to correct this. As this is a Myofascial problem I can recommend three things that will help people. Trigger point therapy will deal with pain and tight muscles. There are also some good books on myofacial stretching A Pilates movement therapist or a John Barnes Myofacial Release therapist can help immensely. It turned out there was a solution to my problem, again  it is a myofascial problem. It can be fixed with hard patient work.
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