Abdominal Rigidity General Signs and Symptoms
- Abdominal Rigidity [Abdominal Muscle Spasm, Involuntary Guarding]
Distinguishing voluntary from involuntary abdominal rigidity is a must for accurate assessment. Review this comparison so that you can quickly tell the two apart.
• Usually symmetrical
• More rigid on inspiration (expiration causes muscle relaxation)
• Eased by relaxation techniques, such as positioning the patient comfortably and talking to him in a calm, soothing manner
• Painless when the patient sits up using his abdominal muscles alone
- • Usually asymmetrical
• Equally rigid on inspiration and expiration
• Unaffected by relaxation techniques
• Painful when the patient sits up using his abdominal muscles alone
- Detected by palpation, abdominal rigidity refers to abnormal muscle tension or inflexibility of the abdomen. Rigidity may be voluntary or involuntary.
- Involuntary rigidity most commonly results from GI disorders,
- involuntary rigidity reflects potentially life-threatening peritoneal irritation or inflammation
Abdominal Rigidity History and Physical Examination
- Find out when the abdominal rigidity began. Is it associated with abdominal pain? If so, did the pain begin at the same time?
- Determine whether the abdominal rigidity is localized or generalized. Is it always present? Has its site changed or remained constant?
- any types of aggravating or alleviating factors, such as position changes, coughing, vomiting, elimination, and walking.
- Inspect the abdomen for peristaltic waves, which may be visible in very thin patients
- Finally, check for poor skin turgor and dry mucous membranes, which indicate dehydration.
Abdominal Rigidity Medical Cause(s)
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (dissecting). Mild to moderate abdominal rigidity occurs with abdominal aortic aneurysm, a life-threatening disorder
- Peritonitis. Depending on the cause of peritonitis, abdominal rigidity may be localized or generalized.
- Mesenteric artery ischemia. A life-threatening disorder, mesenteric artery ischemia is characterized by 2 to 3 days of persistent, low-grade abdominal pain and diarrhea leading to sudden, severe abdominal pain and rigidity
- Insect toxins. Insect stings and bites, especially black widow spider bites, release toxins that can produce generalized, cramping abdominal pain, usually accompanied by rigidity