Abdominal Guarding Abdominal Rigidity

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Abdominal rigidity describes stiffness of the wall of theabdomen.

What is going on in the body?

Abdominal rigidity is often caused by a spasm of theabdominal wall muscles after an injury. It may also be a sign that theperson has swelling inside the abdominal cavity. Serious diseaseinside the abdomen can also cause abdominal rigidity.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Rigidity may point to a local problem in the muscles.Or it may relate to a deeper problem inside the abdomen. These arecauses of abdominal rigidity:

  • bleeding into the muscles of the abdominal wall
  • bowel or abdominal infection, such as diverticulitisor appendicitis
  • an inflammation of the pancreas
  • injury or strain to the muscles of the abdominal wall
  • peritonitis, or an inflamed lining of the abdomen
  • Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

    Abdominal rigidity itself is considered a sign of disease.Some other symptoms that often go along with it are as follows:

  • an abdomen that is tender to the touch
  • abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • fever
  • nausea andvomiting
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of abdominal rigidity begins with a medicalhistory and physical exam. The doctor may order tests such as:

  • an abdominal CT scanor abdominal MRI
  • blood tests
  • an ultrasound
  • urine tests
  • Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    Most of the time, abdominal rigidity can’t be prevented.A few cases may be prevented by avoidingalcohol abusethat leads to pancreatitis. Following sports safety guidelines forchildren, adolescents,and adultsmay reduce injuries to the abdomen.

    What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    One should be concerned about abdominal rigidity. It canpoint to the presence of a life-threatening infection. If this is the case,death may occur if prompt treatment fails to work.

    What are the risks to others?

    Abdominal rigidity is not catching.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If abdominalrigidity is due to a muscle injury, rest and pain medicinesare used. Other causes need more extensive treatment, such as:

  • antibiotics
  • intravenous fluids
  • surgery
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Medicines may cause allergic reactionsand stomach upset. Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, orallergic reactionto anesthesia.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    Treatment often stops when the person recovers and therigidity goes away. The condition may be cured for good, as it iswhen the appendix is removed with anappendectomy.In more serious cases, death may occur if treatment doesn’t succeed.

    How is the condition monitored?

    The need for monitoring depends on the underlying causeof the problem. Symptoms are followed, and physical exams maybe done. Urine tests, blood tests, and X-ray tests also may beneeded to monitor the condition. Any new or worsening symptoms shouldbe reported to the doctor.

    Article type: xmedgeneral