Abdominal rigidity

Definition

Abdominal rigidity is stiffness of the muscles in the belly area, which can be felt when touched or pressed.

Considerations

When there is a sore area inside the belly or abdomen, the pain will get worse when a hand presses against your belly area.

Your fear or nervousness about being touched (palpated) may cause this symptom, but there should be no pain.

If you have pain when you are touched and you tighten the muscles to "guard" against more pain, it is more likely caused by a physical condition inside your body. The condition may affect one or both sides of your body.

Abdominal rigidity may occur along with:

Causes

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Immediate medical care is needed if you have pain when the belly is gently pressed and then released.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

You will probably be seen in an emergency room.

The health care provider will exam you. This may include a pelvic and possibly a rectal exam.

The health care provider will ask questions about your symptoms, such as:

Diagnostic tests that may be done include:

You will probably not be given any pain relievers until a diagnosis is made. Pain relievers can hide your symptoms.


Review Date: 10/14/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.