Abdominal pain is some of the worst pain a person can experience. This area of the body is susceptible to a wide range of issues that can lead to pain. Here’s what may be causing your pain, and how to treat it.
What causes pain in the lower abdomen?
The abdomen is the space between your chest and pelvis. Many vital organs are housed here, including the:
- Entire digestive system
- Reproductive organs
- Kidneys in the back of the abdomen
- Gall bladder
With so many bodily systems in one place, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location and cause of your abdominal pain, but these are the main abdominal pain causes.
1. Gastrointestinal issues
Gastrointestinal issues are one of the most common causes of abdominal pain. Fortunately, for most people, this type of abdominal pain resolves itself fairly quickly with the help of some over-the-counter medications.
However, there are more serious digestive issues that can lead to pain, such as:
- Celiac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
Each of these comes with accompanying symptoms that are further discussed below.
2. Muscular strains and tears
Another common cause of pain in the abdomen is related to a positive action having a negative reaction: exercise. With so much literature on the positive aspects of exercise (and the dangers of overweight and obesity), some people find themselves committed to 100+ crunches a day.
Done incorrectly or too quickly, there is a good chance you could strain or pull a muscle in your abdomen. An extreme example of this is a hernia when soft tissues push through a weak muscle (perhaps the one you are trying to strengthen!).
3. Urinary tract infections
Infections in the urinary tract or bladder can cause sometimes-severe pain in the abdomen.
These are also usually accompanied by telltale symptoms like difficulty urinating or burning pain when urinating.
4. Hormonal conditions, chronic or acute
Exclusive to women are hormonal abdominal pain causes that involve the reproductive organs. Endometriosis is the most extreme of these, but some women experience painful cramping and bloating every month as part of their menstrual cycle.
Women in the early years of their cycle may experience reoccurring ovarian cysts. In most cases, these are harmless and resolve themselves, but for some women the pain can be excruciating and occur monthly.
Other abdominal pain causes
There are other abdominal pain conditions that require immediate medical attention. These include appendicitis and food poisoning, both of which can be fatal if not treated.
Other causes of abdominal pain can include:
- Kidney diseases, infections, or kidney stones
- Angina or congestive heart failure
- Stomach or pancreatic cancer
When should I be concerned about abdominal pain?
You have been experiencing stomach pain for a few days now. How do you know when to seek medical attention and when to ride it out?
The only way to ease your mind completely is to visit your doctor. They can help you determine if your pain requires intervention beyond rest, antacids and other gas medications, and maybe some ginger or peppermint tea and gentle stretching.
If you have the following symptoms beyond mild discomfort, call your doctor:
- Sudden and severe abdominal pain
- Low grade fever
- Nausea accompanied by vomiting (and an inability to keep any fluids down)
- Diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than a couple of days (especially when accompanied by fever or nausea)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Traces of blood in stool
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain that is not resolved with over-the-counter medication or that returns after medication is stopped
- Burning or pain when urinating
The following serious symptoms require a trip to the emergency room:
- Concentrated sudden and severe pain accompanied by a fever of 102 or more
- Black or bloody stool
- Vomiting that includes blood
- Painful abdomen that is sensitive to the touch
- Inability to urinate
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain in the chest and around the ribs, reaching into the abdomen
Though rare, these symptoms can indicate a condition that is life-threatening. If you experience any of these, don’t try to ride it out. Head to the emergency room.
Most people, however, won’t experience these severe conditions. They may suffer from chronic, or ongoing, pain that affects their overall quality of life though. Thankfully, for most types of abdominal pain there are treatments that can help.
How will Alliance Pain Solutions help with my abdominal pain?
At Alliance Pain Solutions we recognize that abdominal pain can be a sensitive topic. Our first approach in helping you with your abdominal pain is a compassionate and thorough diagnosis.
Abdominal pain diagnosis
Because abdominal pain is a symptom of a variety of conditions and ailments, an accurate diagnosis is key.
We’ll start with a physical examination of your abdomen, including palpation and possibly an ultrasound or MRI. We’ll do this while also taking a complete medical history. If you have a history of food allergies or sensitivities (including lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity), your doctor will ask you about lifestyle factors such as your most recent diet and levels of activity.
Depending on your symptoms, we may also order lab tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), liver enzymes, pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase), pregnancy, and urinalysis tests. These can eliminate some abdominal pain causes and begin to narrow down potential conditions.
In some cases, an endoscopic ultrasound can offer a picture of your stomach, checking for ulcers or other irritations.
Our abdominal pain treatment approach
We believe in pain resolution solutions that achieve positive outcomes using the most conservative approach possible.
Starting with your diagnosis, our team of pain management specialists will create an individualized approach to your abdominal pain treatments.
For the most severe cases of pain from pancreatic or stomach cancers, we offer celiac plexus blocks designed to completely eliminate your pain. We also offer treatments like radiofrequency ablation and amnion/allografts.
Alliance Pain Solutions is a West Phoenix pain management specialist. We welcome patients from all over the Valley. If you are experiencing unresolved or reoccurring abdominal pain, get in touch today.