Abdominal Pain - Cause

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What was the cause(s) of your case of abdominal pain?

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What are the causes of abdominal pain?

There are several causes of abdominal pain or discomfort. The following are lists of causes of abdominal pain (not all inclusive), grouped into the area of the abdomen were patients often say their pain is mainly localized:

Upper abdominal pain (right, left, both sides, center, or pelvic indicated by R, L, B, C or P)-

  • Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart) - RLBC
  • Cholangitis (bile duct inflammation) - RC
  • Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation) - RC
  • Duodenitis (upper small intestine inflammation) - RC
  • Food Poisoning - C
  • Gallstones - R
  • GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) - C
  • Heart attack - RLBC
  • Hepatitis
  • Hiatal hernia - C
  • Intestinal obstruction - RLBC
  • Injury - RLBC
  • Liver cancer - RC
  • Mesenteric ischemia (decreased blood flow to the intestines) - RLBC
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma RLBC
  • Non-ulcer stomach pain - C
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation, cysts) CRLB
  • Peptic ulcer - C
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart's covering tissue) - C
  • Pleurisy (inflammation of the lung's membrane) - RLBC
  • Pneumonia - RLB
  • Pneumothorax (lung collapse) - RL
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants) - RC
  • Shingles - RL
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm - LC

Readers should note that many causes of perceived abdominal pain do not come from sites in the abdomen. This is especially evident with upper abdominal pain that occurs in an organ and/or organ systems close to the upper abdomen like the lower part of lungs (pneumonia) or occasionally heart problems [angina, heart attack] especially in women).

Lower abdominal pain (right, left, both sides, center or pelvic indicated by R, L, B, C, P)

  • Appendicitis - RC
  • Cancer - RLCP
  • Crohn's Disease - LC
  • Diverticulitis - RLB
  • Ectopic pregnancy - RL
  • Endometriosis - CRLBP
  • Inguinal hernia - RLB
  • Intestinal obstruction - RLC
  • Injury - RLBCP
  • Kidney Infection - RL
  • Kidney Stones - RLBP
  • Mittelschmerz (pain- associated with ovulation) - RLCP
  • Ovarian cysts - RL
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (infection of the female reproductive organs) - CRLP
  • Pregnancy - CP
  • Salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes) - RL
  • Seminal vesiculitis (inflammation of the seminal vesicles) - RLBP
  • Shingles - RL
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm - LC
  • Diffuse abdominal pain

Unfortunately, some of the above causes are not well localized and the patients only say the pain is "'everywhere." A significant number of patients have this diffuse pain and yet may have a cause that is usually localized in other patients (for example, appendicitis, diverticulitis and others). However, there are causes that result in diffuse abdominal pain:

  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intussusception
  • Irritable Bowel disease
  • Mesenteric ischemia
  • Mesenteric lymphadenitis
  • Peritonitis
  • Pregnancy (unknown to patient but delivering!)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Uremia

The above lists are examples of many (not all) causes of abdominal pain. The doctor makes use of the location, type, and intensity of pain to try to arrive at a diagsis. For example, if an older patient has acute pain (a few hours) that is relatively constant, located in the left and or center of the lower abdomen with pain score of 9 out of 10, that is sharp or tearing, the doctor would likely place a thoracic aortic aneurysm high on the list of suspected causes.

Return to Abdominal Pain (Causes, Remedies, Treatment)

See what others are saying

Comment from: cozmicdreamer, 45-54 Female Published: October 01

I thought it was just an intestinal bug, but my abdominal pain kept getting worse and at one point I almost passed out, the pain was that bad. That's when I figured it was time to head to the E.R. I knew I had diverticular disease. That was top on my list of causes and sure enough after a C.T. scan that is what it turned out to be.

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Comment from: smith jones, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 21

I collapsed with excruciating abdominal pain at a conference. From an "I need to go to the loo" feeling to collapsed within 10 minutes. I couldn't move, speak, periods of unconsciousness, pulse of 155, fluctuating blood pressure, and then absolutely uncontrollable bloody diarrhea. Colonoscopy showed severe ulceration. Suspected C. Difficile bacterial colitis but no bacteria was found in repeated tests - proved to be Ischemic Colitis by histology. Very rare in a 39 year old apparently, but obviously does happen. Complete recovery thankfully and no recurrence!

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