Symptoms of an oblique muscle strain include immediate pain in the afflicted area, muscle spasms, swelling and bruising. Abdominal muscle strains are graded according to severity, reports Dr. Jonathan Cluett for About.com.
Grade one abdominal muscle strains cause mild discomfort and rarely limit daily activity. Grade two strains result in moderate discomfort and may limit the ability to do crunches or other twisting movements, explains Dr. Cluett. Grade three abdominal muscle strains are severe injuries that cause pain during normal activities. Patients with severe abdominal muscle strains commonly complain of bruising and muscle spasms. If severe symptoms are experienced, it is best to have them evaluated for proper treatment.
The best thing to do after sustaining a muscle strain is to allow the muscle to cool down and let any inflammation subside, according to Dr. Cluett. It is also important to avoid exercising the injured muscle to help the healing process. Any activities that induce pain or muscle spasms are also good to avoid.
Other treatment options include gentle stretching and applying ice or heat to the injured area. However, excessive stretching may be harmful, states Dr. Cluett. It is most beneficial to apply ice during the first 48 hours after the injury and then after activities. Gentle heating before activities helps loosen the muscles.