What are the Common Causes of Extreme Abdominal Pain?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Extreme abdominal pain can be caused by a wide range of medical issues. Understanding the possible causes of extreme abdominal pain and learning to identify symptoms which can indicate a serious underlying problem can be useful in dealing with abdominal issues. Possible causes of severe pain in the abdominal area include disorders of the digestive, reproductive, or other abdominal organs, infections, cancer, or heart issues.

Some extreme abdominal pain is caused by disorders of the digestive organs. Examples of these disorders include stomach ulcers, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and pancreatitis. Sometimes, severe abdominal pain may result from simple constipation or gas.

In women, extreme abdominal pain is sometimes caused by reproductive issues. Severe abdominal cramping is a common complaint among many women during the early stages of menstruation. Ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can also cause abdominal pain.

Health issues occurring in other abdominal organs can also cause severe abdominal pain. Inflammation or rupture of the appendix is a notorious cause of extreme abdominal discomfort. Kidney stones and gallstones can also create pain in the area.


Often, an infection is responsible for extreme abdominal pain. The gastrointestinal system can be invaded by a virus or by bacteria such as E. coli, resulting in severe discomfort along with vomiting and diarrhea. Infections of the urinary tract, kidneys, spleen, or liver can also create a sensation of pain in the abdomen.

Rarely, extreme abdominal pain is a symptom of some type of cancer. In this case, abdominal pain may be due to the presence of a tumor pressing on an organ. Cancer can attack any organ in the body, including those in the abdominal area. Many people do not realize that extreme abdominal pain may also be a symptom of a heart issue such as angina or heart attack. Abdominal discomfort due to a heart issue is more common in women than in men.

As its potential causes are numerous and can vary greatly in seriousness, extreme abdominal pain can be worrying. In many cases, however, instances of abdominal pain are not cause for concern. Should an individual experience severe pain that does not diminish, bloody bowel movements, prolonged vomiting, or extreme tenderness or swelling of the abdomen, however, he should seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms may indicate a serious underlying medical condition.


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