Many different disorders,
diseases, and problems can cause abdominal pain. The
pain can range from very mild to severe and disabling.
There are many possible sources of pain in the abdominal
area. The abdomen is the area between the bottom of the
rib cage and the groin. There are many body organs found
here including the liver, gall bladder, and stomach,
which lie just below the ribs; the pancreas which is
behind the stomach; the intestines, both large and
small, in the mid-abdomen; and the kidneys which are
located behind the intestines. The lower abdomen holds
the bladder, the rectum, and the reproductive organs
including, in women, the ovaries, uterus, and cervix.
Abdominal pain may be
caused by various diseases of any of the organs
including infections, inflammatory conditions (e.g.,
appendicitis), ulcers, or tumors; kidney stones or
gallstones; urinary tract infections; viruses or
parasites in the intestines, food poisoning, pregnancy,
sexually transmitted diseases, and other problems with
the uterus or ovaries. Menstrual cramps and excess gas
are two common causes of abdominal pain. Sometimes
abdominal pain can represent referred pain from other
parts of the body, for example, a heart attack or
pneumonia may be felt as abdominal pain instead of chest
pain. Most abdominal pain is minor but some can signal
• Pain ranging from mild
too severe. It may be chronic or acute.
• May be described as cramping, piercing, burning, and
sharp, dull, diffuse or in only one area; or radiating
to other parts of the abdomen or body.
• It may come and go or it may be constant.
• Depending on the cause, it may be accompanied by
diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, nausea, vomiting,
fever, difficulty urinating, or other symptoms.
DOCTOR CAN DO:
• Review your medical
history and perform a physical exam.
• Order laboratory blood or urine tests; x-rays or
scans; or endoscopic procedures (using an endoscope, a
narrow, flexible, lighted tube to view internal organs).
• Recommend exploratory surgery in some cases.
• Describe the pain as
accurately as possible to help determine the cause.
• Keep a record if possible. Include: time of day when
pain starts; when it started and how long it lasts,
exactly where it is felt, and the type of pain (sharp,
dull, throbbing, burning, radiating, piercing,
squeezing, stabbing, tearing, or cramping).
• Also include: when you last ate and what you ate; all
related symptoms (nausea, gas), anything that seems to
relieve the pain (e.g. walking, laying down, bowel
movement); and anything that seems to make it worse,
including specific foods or activities.
• Treatment, until diagnosis is made, includes rest and
possibly, medication for pain.
• DO NOT take laxatives, painkillers, or other medicine
unless instructed by your doctor.
• Reduce activities, keep track of temperature if warm
or having chills, and drink plenty of fluids unless
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL
ASSISTANCE if you are having abdominal pain,
if symptoms worsen or change, including developing
fever, increased pain, vomiting, weakness, or dizziness.