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.
• 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
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.