Stitch in the side: causes, workup, and solutions

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2006 Dec;5(6):289-92. doi: 10.1097/01.csmr.0000306432.46908.b3.


Side stitch is an acute, localized, sharp, transient pain that occurs during exercise, most often in runners or swimmers, but also in those participating in team sports, and less often in cyclists. The pain is vexing and performance-limiting, but fleeting and benign. Three theories compete to explain it: diaphragmatic ischemia, stress on peritoneal ligaments, and irritation of the parietal peritoneum. The differential diagnosis seems broad, but the classic side stitch is so unique in its features and setting that a reasonable working diagnosis can be made from a careful history and physical examination. Practical tips, although anecdotal, offer lasting solutions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis*
  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'