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Health Encylopedia

Abdominal rigidity
Definition Abnormal muscle tension or inflexibility of the abdomen detected when touching or pressing on the abdomen.
Alternative Names Rigidity of the abdomen; Guarding of the abdomen-involuntary or voluntary
Considerations A patient's fear or nervousness about being touched (palpated) in the abdominal area is referred to as voluntary rigidity. It usually occurs on both sides of the abdomen. Involuntary rigidity (usually caused by physical conditions) may affect one or both sides and be associated with pain. Nausea , vomiting , abdominal tenderness , swelling , and pain often accompany rigidity.
Common Causes
  • injury to the abdomen
  • peritonitis
  • acute appendicitis
  • gastrointestinal perforation (hole in the bowel or stomach)
  • Home Care Involuntary abdominal rigidity should always be evaluated by your health care provider.
    Call your health care provider if All forms of involuntary rigidity and rebound tenderness (pain when the abdomen is gently pressed and then the pressure is suddenly released) should be seen immediately by your health care provider.
    What to expect at your health care provider's office The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. Until a diagnosis is made, pain relievers will probably not be administered because they may mask the symptoms. Medical history questions documenting abdominal rigidity in detail may include:
  • When did you first notice this symptom?
  • What other symptoms are occurring at the same time? Especially, is there
  • abdominal pain ? The physical examination may include a pelvic (and possibly a rectal) examination. Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • colonoscopy
  • gastroscopy
  • peritoneal lavage
  • stool studies
  • X-ray of the chest
  • X-ray of the abdomen
  • barium studies of the stomach and intestines (such as an
  • upper GI series ) After seeing your health care provider: You may want to add a diagnosis related to abdominal rigidity to your personal medical record.