What Are the Common Causes of Umbilical Pain?

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  • Written By: Nicole Etolen
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2019
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Umbilical pain is pain that occurs in the center of the abdomen, near the navel, or belly button. The pain can be focused on the umbilical region or radiate out to other parts of the abdomen. Common causes include appendicitis, umbilical hernia, constipation, or over-exertion of the abdominal muscles.

Umbilical pain can accompany acute appendicitis, a condition in which the appendix rapidly becomes progressively inflamed. Emergency treatment is required, as the appendix can burst and spill bacteria into the abdominal cavity, causing a more severe condition called peritonitis, or inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdominal cavity. Typically, the pain starts at the navel and extends to the lower right side of the abdomen. Other symptoms of acute appendicitis include high fever, chills, constipation, nausea and vomiting.

One of the most common causes of umbilical pain in infants is a hernia. In an umbilical hernia, the abdominal lining or part of the abdominal organs protrude through the area surrounding the navel. It is caused when the muscle surrounding the navel does not close completely after birth. The hernia usually resolves on its own by age one. In cases when a hernia is cutting off blood supply, surgery to repair the bulge is usually recommended. Umbilical hernias can also occur in adults, and surgery is usually required to repair the bulge.


Constipation can also cause umbilical pain in some cases. When feces become impacted in the colon and put pressure on the belly button, the pain can radiate outward towards the surface of the navel region. While most people experience bouts of mild constipation from time to time, severe constipation can cause hemorrhoids and tears in the anus from straining. Constipation is usually treated with laxatives, stool softeners, and changes in the diet. Maintaining proper hydration can also help prevent or relieve constipation.

Strenuous exercise, especially without proper stretching before a workout, can strain the abdominal muscles and cause pain that radiates throughout the abdomen and umbilical area. Lifting heavy objects without support can also cause strain on the muscles. Those lifting heavy objects should use the muscles in their legs to perform the bulk of the work.

In some cases, umbilical pain can signal an underlying long-term disease, such as colorectal cancer, Crohn’s or celiac disease. Crohn’s is a disease that causes chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that irritates the digestive tract and causes sensitive to foods containing gluten. Those suffering from lingering or intense belly button pain should contact their doctor to rule out potentially serious conditions.


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Post 4

I learned the hard way how important it is not to overdo it when you are lifting and moving things. The last time we moved, I picked up things that were way too heavy. Looking back now, it would have been much cheaper to have hired this done.

I ended up having hernia surgery because of all the lifting, bending and stretching I did that I was not used to. When I think about the lost time off work, and the medical bills, hiring some movers would have been a much cheaper and smarter decision.

I no longer try to move big things, but even if I am moving something small, I am much more cautious about the way I go about it.

Post 3

When my son was a baby, he had an umbilical hernia. As a young mom with her first child, this was upsetting to me. The umbilical hernia pain really bothered him, and sometimes the pain was worse than other times.

I am thankful that he didn't have to have surgery as the hernia eventually healed up on its own.

Post 2

I had umbilical abdominal pain for many years before my appendix burst and I had to have it removed. For a long time they thought this pain was the result of some female issues, but all along my appendix had been leaking and then healing back up.

The surgeon who performed my surgery said this was extremely rare, and something he had never encountered before. All I know is that once I recovered from the surgery, I have no longer had the umbilical pain.

Post 1

I would have never guessed that being allergic to gluten could cause such umbilical pain in adults. I was in my 40's before I discovered I was allergic to gluten, and have often wondered how long I have had this allergy.

Since I have switched to a gluten free diet, I have been able to reduce much of my pain. I can tell when I have eaten something that I shouldn't, because I start to get that umbilical pain and can usually narrow down the cause. Even though it is something as simple as changing my diet, it can still be pretty hard to do a lot of the time.

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