Abdominal Cramping

An Overview

The sensation of a tight stomach may be concentrated to the abdominal muscles in one area or the entire region of the stomach. A tight stomach may feel similar to bloating and may be accompanied by symptoms like abdominal cramping and pain.b nIf you experience a feeling in your stomach that’s more than butterflies but not quite painful, you may have what’s referred to as a tight stomach. This isn’t an illness or disease. Rather, it’s a symptom of an underlying condition. Conditions can range from minor, annoying ones to potentially serious ones. Usually a tightness is no cause for alarm. To determine if it is the symptom of a health issue, let’s learn the possible causes.
The tightness in the stomach you experience may originate within the stomach wall lining, organs, or even the stomach muscles. Tightness in any area of the abdomen can be linked to the colon and small intestines.

Location of Tightness in abdomen:

Tightness in abdomen can be localised to a specific part of the abdomen, can be only in one organ or multiple organs. This is because many organs are localised in 2 or more parts of the belly or abdomen.
The front wall of the abdomen is formed by muscles that protect organs of the abdomen. Majority of organs in the abdomen are of the digestive system.
• Upper right quadrant contains Gallbladder, the right kidney, pancreas, small intestine, and colon
• Upper left quadrant contains pancreas, small intestine, colon, spleen, stomach and the left kidney.
• Lower right quadrant has right ovary, small intestine, colon, right ureter, and fallopian tube.
• Lower left quadrant contains left ovary, small intestine, colon, left ureter, and fallopian tube.

Serious symptoms accompanying a tight stomach

Sometimes stomach tightness can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. If you ever have any of the following symptoms along with stomach tightness, seek medical attention immediately:
• severe pain
• swelling of the stomach
• weight loss
• fever
• bloody stools
• ongoing nausea and vomiting
• yellow tint to skin

1. Constipation

When your bowel movements are not regular and the colon becomes full, it can cause a tightness in the lower part of the abdomen. In severe cases, your stool will become very firm and block the rectum and colon.

2. Indigestion

Indigestion can be caused by a variety of triggers. Many of them are related to lifestyle and include:
• overeating or eating too quickly
• consuming too much caffeine or alcohol
• smoking
• anxiety
• certain medications

3. Ascites:

Ascites causes abdominal muscle distention and tightness. It is the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Ascites develops when there are liver cirrhosis and tumours in the abdomen. Tightness in abdomen seen when a person has Ascites is usually generalised.

4. Abdominal tumour:

Tumours attack healthy tissues and cause destruction of tissues. This destruction causes pain, tightness in abdomen, and nerve compression.

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

IBS can be detected early by the tightness feeling accompanied by severe stomach pain. This chronic disorder is caused by digestive problems relating to irregular bowel movements. Diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence are other symptoms that occur with tightness.

6. Food poisoning:

Food poisoning occurs when you eat contaminated, toxic, or spoiled food. Beyond stomach tightening, it’s typically accompanied by the following symptoms:
• abdominal cramps
• diarrhea
• vomiting
• loss of appetite
• mild fever
• weakness

7. Overeating:

The feeling of fullness when you overindulge at a meal can cause your stomach to feel tight. This usually happens with meals containing spices or fatty oils. Tightness is experienced when alcohol accompanies food.v
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
A woman may feel abdominal tightness as part of PMS. PMS generally occurs leading up to menstruation. Other symptoms may include:
• abdominal pain
• sore breasts
• acne
• food cravings
• constipation
• diarrhea
• headaches

8. Gastritis:

Any tightness felt at the top of the stomach region, near the left rib cage, can indicate inflammation of the stomach lining. The tightness can be accompanied by a dull pain, nausea, bloating, and vomiting.

9. Menstrual Cycle or Pregnancy:

During the menstrual cycle, it is common to feel a tightness along with mood swings and bloating. In pregnancy, the growing stages of the fetus will cause a feeling of tightness in the abdominal wall, usually in the lower stomach region.

10.Diarrhea or constipation:

Diarrhea will cause stomach cramps. Constipation will accumulate the faeces in the lower intestine, leading to blaoating and tightness in abdomen.

What to Do When Your Stomach Feels Tight

The tightness in abdomen is a terrible annoying feeling that someone might experience. Here are some tips to relieve this uncomfortable tightness in the stomach.
• Go for nutritious and healthy fibre rich food. Fruits and vegetables along with a nutritious, balanced diet will decrease abdominal gases and acid refluxes (heartburn).
• You should drink ample amount of water every day over the course of the day. Well hydrated body gets rids of any wastes and toxins. This reduces the chance of constipation and relieves the tightness in lower abdomen.
• Add to your diet foods that relieve or prevent constipation and gas such as potatoes, yogurt, honey, almonds, flaxseed, and asparagus. Drink prune or aloe vera juice to soothe tightness in the stomach.
• Ginger, mint, and chamomile teas can aid in digestion, ease bloating and cramping, and eliminate tightness on the stomach. Another great herbal drink is fenugreek seeds in water that has set overnight.
• Avoid eating spicy food that will increase acidity in the abdominal cavity and cause gastritis.
• Brown toast, rice, and apples are preventive and cure diarrhoea and they are beneficial in relieving hyperactive stomach.
• Always remain active and fit. Exercising every day is very important for proper circulation and blood supply to gastrointestinal tract to avoid digestion problems.
• Injury to abdominal muscles can heal fast if you do daily exercises to strengthen the muscles.
• Hot packs help in soothing of stretched and strained abdominal muscles; it rapidly relieves cramps and distention.
• Massaging the abdomen will help in decreasing tightness in abdomen.


Diagnosis of the underlying cause of upper abdominal pain is dependent on review of signs and symptoms, physical examination, and evaluation of medical history. During the physical examination, the doctor may analyze the type of pain – acute, intense, intermittent, chronic, progressing, crampy, sharp, dull, or steady.
Location of pain also provides clues regarding the probable cause of the pain. The doctor may try to analyze the factors that improve or worsen pain. This includes factors like physical activities, coughing, alcohol consumption, food, menstrual cycle, or just stress.

Computed tomography or CT scan and MRI are useful in diagnosing cancer, appendicitis, and diverticulitis. Imaging studies are also useful in the detection of diseases of arteries. A small pill helps in visualizing the parts of the small intestine in capsule endoscopy.


Treatment of upper abdominal pain varies with the actual cause of the condition. The treatment method is individualized based on factors like age, health, and severity of pain. Treatment focuses on the underlying cause of pain and also helps to reduce pain and discomfort associated with the condition.
It also minimizes the risk of complications associated with the disease. Medications to treat the underlying condition is the best way to control upper abdominal pain. Antibiotics are used to control infections, which in turn reduces pain.

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