Dec 302012

What pain and symptoms are associated with the external and internal oblique muscles?

Pain pattern of the abdominal oblique muscles.

The oblique muscles contribute to pain high in the abdominal area (heartburn like symptoms) low abdominal area including the groin, pelvic area, and painful bands in the upper back and lower back.

  • Pain in the side, in the waist area
  • Pain in the groin area
  • Pain in the low abdomen
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Testicle pain
  • Bladder pain and incontinence
  • Pain in the pelvis area

Where are the internal and external oblique muscles?

The obliques connect the ribs, top of the hip bone, fascia of the abdominals and lower back. The obliques are the muscles that are often thought of as the waist muscles.

What movements do the obliques muscles control?

  • Bending over
  • Twisting the torso
  • Side bending the torso
  • Assists with breathing

Activities that cause obliques muscle pain and symptoms:

  • Abdominal scars from surgery
  • Over exercising muscles (twisting and side bending exercises)
  • Rowing
  • Raking leaves
  • Lifting using tools like shovels or pitchforks
  • Chronic coughing
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Slouching posture

Interesting facts about the obliques muscles:

  • The oblique muscles can contribute to pain and discomfort in the abdomen and groin area. It can also contribute to burning and discomfort in the urinary tract, bladder and can contribute to incontinence. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, a medical evaluation should be done to rule out underlying medical conditions.
  • Pain in the back when taking a deep breath can signal that there are trigger points in the obliques and/or the rectus abdominis muscles.

Clinical diagnoses to which the oblique muscles symptoms may contribute:

Note: Pain and symptoms of the oblique muscles mimics many acute and chronic conditions, some of which can be life-threatening. It is important that symptoms continue a medical evaluation is conducted to rule out what could be serious medical conditions.

  • Painful rib syndrome
  • Slipped Rib
  • Costochondritis
  • Acid Reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallbladder Disorder
  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Inguinal Hernia
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Urinary Tract Infection and Disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diverticulosis
  • Testicle Pain
  • Ovarian Cyst
  • Endometriosis
  • Prostatitis

Internal and external oblique muscles

You use the oblique muscles when you bend or twist the trunk, and breathe.

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the obliques:

Satellite Trigger Points of the Oblique Muscles:

Iliopsoas, Rectus Abdominis, Tranversus Abdominis, Iliocostalis Thoracics,  Iliocostalis Lumborum, Longissimus Thoracis, Serratus Anterior

Organ Systems Affected by Oblique Muscles:

  • Digestive System
  • Urinary System
  • Reproductive System

For detailed anatomy information:  Obliques Anatomy

Help With External and Internal Oblique Muscle Pain

Because abdomen, groin, and testicular pain can be caused by serious medical conditions, please visit your doctor before using supports or braces. Supports can mask symptoms that need attention.

Cold Gel Therapy for Muscle Strain

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I use it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  Biofreeze is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling.  A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. Biofreeze  is recommended for those who have had a recent muscle injury or sudden onset pain. For the relief of pain caused by the oblique muscles, rub Biofreeze from just under the breasts down the front of the body to the pubic bone. Also, treat both sides of the body from the breast area to the hip bone.

Hot Cold Packs for Abdominal  and Rib Pain


SofTouch Large Hot Cold Pack is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover the oblique area. The inside of the pack contains a clay-like substance that remains soft and pliable so you can mold the pack to your body. The outside of the pack is wrapped with soft suede like material that does not shock the skin when touched. My clients love this pack and it is now the only hot and cold pack that I use in my massage therapy practice.

To treat oblique muscle pain lay the pack just under the breasts and allow the pack to drape over the sides of the body.

Rib Support Brace For Women

Women's Rib Brace

The ITA-MED Breathable Elastic Rib Support is a good rib brace for women. It is cut to fit your shape and it comes up high enough to give you plenty of support. The brace is made from elastic which provides support and compression without the pinching and binding of other rib supports. The Velcro closure allows for easy on and off as well as easy adjustment. If you are suffering pain from a rib or rib muscle or cartilage injury this brace will help you decrease your pain and breath easier. The size chart is available on the left-hand size of the page. Be sure to measure to get the correct size!

Rib Support Brace For Men

Men's Rib BraceThe ITA-MED Breathable Elastic Rib Support For Men is an elastic wide band that provides compression and support for the rib cage.  The elastic material will not pinch and bind like some other rib braces. It has a Velcro closure for easy on / off  and easy adjustment. If you are suffering from a rib cage injury this band will help decrease your pain and allow for easier breathing. Be sure to look for the size chart on the left-hand side of the page and measure to ensure that you get the correct size.

Professionals Choice Comfort Fit Low Back Support Provides Relief From Oblique Muscle Pain By Providing Abdominal Support and Abdominal Compression

418Gciu2jjL._SX300_I seldom rave about products, but this is one product it would be hard for me to do without! The name Professionals Choice name is well known in the horse industry and is highly regarded for their top quality products that work.

The Pro-Choice Back Support is my go to for abdominal support and back brace. This brace has helped me more than any other with low back and low abdominal pain. The lumbar pad provides support without the uncomfortable restriction and poking of metal supports. The band is wide, covering the entire lower back. It has an adjustable Velcro front closure along with adjustable Velcro side panels which can be tightened or loosened to provide support and compression. The brace also reflects your body heat back into the muscles, providing warmth to tight sore muscles. For those with recent injuries or flare-ups, it is comfortable enough wear all night and will not disrupt your sleep.

The brace is made of closed-cell, limestone-based Neoprene which is extremely durable and resilient. The brace retains its shape over years of use and does not absorb moisture. It can be machined washed on the gentle cycle.

I have recommended this brace to many clients and friends with chronic low back pain and everyone has commented how much it helps relieve their pain and helps with mobility.  As with other back braces, it may not help much with sciatica pain, but it can provide additional support and warmth to low back muscles which may bring some relief. But if you have muscle, tendon or ligament injuries, new or old, I highly recommend that you try this brace!
Sizing: Small and Medium fits waists 22″ – 38″. Large fits waist 24″ – 40″. X-large fits waist 41″ – 50. XX-large fits waist 51″ – 60″.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

Self Treatment for External and Internal Oblique Abdominal Pain

Do you know that muscle ‘knots’ or other dysfunction in the oblique muscles can contribute to pain throughout the upper and lower abdomen?  This pain can also add to breathing difficulty and cause heartburn and indigestion.

If you experiencing a combination of these symptoms, I  recommend you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. If you suffer from unresolved upper and lower abdominal, or groin / testicular pain I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points throughout the abdominal area have helped many people resolve their pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

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