What are Some Causes of Abdominal Pain?

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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Abdominal pain can be caused by a number of things and can be located in various areas within the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity includes the area from the ribs down to the pelvic bone, stretching out to both sides of the body. Pain can radiate from anywhere inside this area and be called "abdominal pain." The organs in this area include the small and large intestines, the liver, the stomach, the pancreas and gall bladder.

Pain in the abdomen that is caused by the inflammation of an organ can eventually lead to colitis, diverticulitis or appendicitis. An organ that becomes stretched, blocked or obstructed will lead to conditions such as a hernia or gallstones. Spasms in the intestinal muscles with no real cause usually end up diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). All of these conditions begin with pain in the abdominal area.

A peptic ulcer, a hole in the lining of the stomach or esophagus, can cause severe pain. Antacids may help, but they only provide temporary relief. Once the antacids are no longer taken, the pain usually returns. Different cancers of the liver, ovaries, pancreas, stomach and colon can cause pain but are uncommon.


Women may experience abdominal pain for several reasons. Menstruation can cause cramping in the lower abdominal area. Other conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause pain in women. Food poisoning can cause severe abdominal pain that is coupled with vomiting and diarrhea. Somatization disorder is a type of emotional disorder with physical symptoms that include pain in the abdomen area.

Not all pain in the abdominal area is severe or needs to be treated by a physician. Constipation can cause pain in the abdomen. A person becomes constipated when hardened stools have difficulty passing through the body. Excessive air in the stomach and intestines can be painful, but these temporary conditions are usually remedied by a person belching or passing gas. There are several different over-the-counter remedies available to relieve constipation and excessive gas.

Abdominal pain can happen suddenly or start out mild and become progressively worse. The pain can feel sharp, as if a person is being stabbed, or it can feel dull, similar to cramps. Sometimes this pain is just the body's way of dealing with a temporary issue and taking care of itself. Persistent or severe pain should always be evaluated by a physician. The location of the pain, the type of pain, and how long the pain has persisted will help with the diagnosis and treatment.


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Post 5

I have been having sharp pains on my left side from just beneath my rib cage to about two inches below my belly button at my hip. I wake up in the middle of the night from the pain and toss and turn trying to get settled. It lasts for a few days and disappears.

Five years ago my appendix ruptured, shortly before I had my left ovary removed, and six months after I was diagnosed with a hernia (and repaired) and twisted intestines after phantom pain and some serious weight gain led to exploratory surgery. Suddenly this pain has started in the last few months and is sporadic but ongoing.

I refuse to subject myself to the medical circus

of what if's, but I also know that before, after each rejection, I would pick myself up and seek a different opinion until someone got it right. I could have died had I given up then. The irony is the surgeon who saved my life was the first to turn me away and tell me they were phantom pains and scar tissue. He begged my forgiveness for not looking deeper after my surgery, for not believing in my pain.

Although it gives me hope that there will be a doctor out there who can diagnose me properly, who really has that kind of money? I don't. So I keep a diary and keep up with the pain, hopefully i can figure out the cause before it's too late, and maybe I'll get lucky that it really is nothing serious this time.

Post 4

I had some abdominal pain symptoms that were hard to pinpoint because my pain was never in one spot, but seemed to be all across my abdomen. I also had some irregular bleeding, and found out all of this was from uterine polyps.

Even though there was no chance these could turn into cancer, I had surgery to remove them. Once I recovered from the surgery, I realized how much abdominal pain I had been having because I felt so much better. It was something I had just learned to live with, and now it feels so good not to have that nagging abdominal pain all of the time.

Post 3

I had some ongoing right side abdominal pain, and at first they thought it was my gall bladder. I had several tests run, but they could find nothing wrong with my gall bladder.

The next step was to do a colonoscopy and endoscopy at the same time. The endoscopy showed that I had chronic gastritis which was the cause of my abdominal pain.

I was given a medication to treat acid reflux, which surprisingly to me, took care of most of my pain. I had a hard time figuring out how my abdominal pain could be treated with a medication for heartburn, but for the most part, it did. I am glad I didn't have to undergo surgery when there was nothing wrong with my gallbladder, but still get mild abdominal pain from time to time.

Post 2

I had to have surgery for a ruptured appendix which was the worst abdominal pain I have ever had. It started out as a dull ache on my right side, but became progressively worse. When they became sharp abdominal pains on my right side, I figured it was either my appendix or my gall bladder. It's a good thing I went to the doctor since my appendix had ruptured and I had to have emergency surgery.

Post 1

There are so many different things that can cause abdominal pain, sometimes I wonder how easy it is to determine the cause of the pain. In my case, it is pretty easy to figure out.

I have lower abdominal pain every month right before my monthly cycle. This is something I just expect to happen every month and know that it is temporary and nothing serious. I take pain relievers for a few days which help with the symptoms, and then don't have any more problems until the next month rolls around.

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