Pain in Solar Plexus

The solar plexus is located at the gravitational center of the torso, just below the middle of the ribs. If you follow the lines under your ribs with each hand, the point where your fingers meet will be the solar plexus. In terms of our organs it is located just above the stomach and just below the chest and lungs.

Also known as the ‘celiac plexus’, this is a complex network of nerves and arteries which connect and regulate many of the organs. It is located in front of the diaphragm which we use in order to help regulate our breathing.

The solar plexus interestingly has many important roles in martial arts. In karate and other ‘hard’ styles, the solar plexus falls under scrutiny as the best place to punch someone if you want to set them off balance and ‘wind’ them at the same time – a solid punch to the solar plexus hurts a lot due to the cluster of nerves, causes us to ‘double over’, and causes the diaphragm to knock all the air out of our lungs. In softer ‘internal’ styles of martial arts the solar plexus is believed to be the rough location of the ‘dan tien’ which is the center of our ‘Qi’ energy. Though these ancient Chinese beliefs might have been a bit off in terms of the precise reason, they nevertheless even at this early stage were able to recognize the importance of this point.

Pain in the Solar Plexus

Due to the complex nature of the solar plexus, it is very difficult to diagnose specifically what might be causing pain there. Because of the number of nerves that run through this point, and the proximity to both the stomach and lungs, the discomfort can be caused by any number of problems around the body.

These include:

• Impact to the area/bruising

• Nerve damage – potentially caused by injury or by vitamin deficiency

• Pulled muscle

• Stomach ulcers

• Muscle spasm/cramp

• Acid reflux/indigestion

• Cancer (pancreatic or metastatic)

• Chronic pancreatitis

• Stress

Treatment therefore and prognosis will depend largely on the cause and it is important to see a medical professional in order to ascertain the precise cause. Metastatic cancer is a very serious condition which can spread via the network of nerves to all the local internal organs, so it is very important to get a prompt diagnosis.

In the meantime however you may also be able to manage the pain. If you suspect the problem may be caused by stomach ulcers then you should avoid the use of oral painkillers which can exacerbate this problem. For indigestion you can of course use antacids to help regulate the problem and also try generally eating more slowly and chewing more thoroughly. Breathing, stretching and massage can help to alleviate muscle cramp and spasming.

8 comments

  1. Debbie Reply
    September 11, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Very helpful, it makes me think that all the doctors that I've seen have never been to medical school!

  2. Kevin Reply
    November 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Suggested use of antacids need a warning, "don't take antacids too often, they can produce B12 deficiencies, which is very serious and has the same symptoms as Multiple Sclerosis, so similar that doctors often treat patients for MS erroneously and accidentally kill them".

  3. Anonymous Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Excellent-informative with precision!

  4. Xavier Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Last week and couple of weeks earlier I had difficulty to breathe and slight tightness from middle of chest to lower near solar plexus. No pains at heart region but doctors continue to monitor ECG and pressures. I'm not sure if pain at diaphragm will cause flurry during ECG. Anyone can enlighten me?

  5. Paul Kirby Reply
    March 21, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Very good, easy to understand.

  6. Anonymous Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Helpful, thank you!

  7. Jane Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Well, article maybe not bad, but view about Chinese Medicine is very wrong, even description of body centre is not correct, probably the author doesn't know much about it, tcm is very old, but still can treat and diagnose more than usual GP that people see daily.

  8. Anonymous Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Good thorough answer – if it comes back I will seek medical help.

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