Winded (Solar Plexus Syndrome)

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Our abdomen is one of the most important parts in our body. It contains all the digestive organs, including the stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These organs are held together loosely by connecting tissues (mesentery) that allow them to expand and slide against each other.

The solar plexus (also known as celiac plexus) is a cluster of nerves located in the upper abdomen. The solar plexus is also located behind the pancreas, near the body’s largest blood vessel (the aorta). As part of the nervous, the nerves in the solar plexus send messages directly to the brain from the digestive organs in the body.

Normally, in certain medical conditions, such as pancreatic cancer, a celiac plexus block may be used to help manage severe abdominal pain that isn’t responsive to other treatments, including opioids. A celiac plexus block is a medical procedure that uses an injection of medication to stop the solar plexus nerves from sending pain signals to the organs.

Solar plexus syndrome (solar plexus pain) refers to what happens when you’re subjected to a sudden forceful impact on the abdomen. Also known as “being winded”, this condition is caused by a sudden blow or impact directly to the stomach or sometimes from a fall onto your back. If you have been winded, you will have trouble breathing deeply and possibly difficulty breathing at all. You may even be anxious or feel panicked about not being able to breathe properly due to the injury.

Most specifically, a blow to this specific area which results in a winding causes compression of the nerves behind the stomach (the solar plexus). This then causes the diaphragm to contract and go into spasm. The diaphragm is the muscle that sucks air into the lungs. As a result, it is very difficult to breathe in and out properly.

However, once the diaphragm relaxes, breathing becomes much easier. When we inhale, the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) and diaphragm contract to expand the chest cavity. The diaphragm flattens and moves downwards, and the intercostal muscles move the rib cage upwards and out.

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