Osteopathy and side stitches

Side stitches

Side stitches are temporary stabbing pains on the right side of the abdomen, below the diaphragm.

The pain subsides almost immediately after exercise stops.

The cause is unknown but there are different theories:

• Side stitches are likely to be caused by the pumping action of the legs putting pressure on the diaphragm from below, while rapid breathing expands the lungs and puts pressure on the diaphragm from above. This “dual pinching” effect shuts off the flow of blood and oxygen, and causes pain, cramps or both.
• Stretching the ligaments that extend from the diaphragm to the liver causes side stitches. When a runner or walker pounds the surface while breathing in and out, he or she stretches these ligaments, and that causes the pain.
• A third theory is that eating a lot of food or fatty food, in particular, before exercise may cause stress on the diaphragm.
Treatment: there is no specific treatment. Simply stop doing whatever causes the pain, then resume the activity after 1-2 minutes.
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