What is Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal pains are a common cause for a visit to the doctor’s office. When patients complain of “stomach pain” they are sometimes describing pain that is throughout the abdomen area and may not actually be directly related to the organ known as the stomach.

Abdominal pain is caused by a structural or a functional problem.

Structural problems are due to an abnormality with the structure of the organ. Medical imaging like CT and MRI will show that the organ does not look normal and is not working properly.

Functional problems, also called motility disorders, are conditions that result from poor nerve and muscle function in the digestive tract. Digestive organs usually look normal on medical imaging, but the organs do not work like they should.

Some of the conditions that could cause abdominal pain are:

1. Peptic Ulcer.

An ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or first part of the small intestine. Peptic ulcer may cause burning pain like hunger pangs. It may also cause nausea, vomiting or heartburn.

2. Gallstones

Gallstones are a common cause of abdominal pain. The pain is usually very severe lasting for up to 30 minutes. It is in the center or in the right side of the upper abdomen. It may also be associated with nausea and vomiting.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ( Hyperlink)

If IBS is the cause of abdominal pain, it may worsen after you eat a meal or if you are stressed. IBS will cause diarrhea or constipation and bloating but will not cause bleeding or weight loss.

4. Constipation

You may experience sharp gas pains throughout the abdomen if constipation is the reason for your abdominal pain. There may also be bloating and fullness and distention of the abdomen.

5. Diverticulitis

Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower left abdominal area may be caused by diverticulitis. This occurs when the small pouches inside the large intestine become infected or inflamed. This may be associated with low grade fever, nausea, vomiting or constipation.

6. Pancreatitis

Abdominal pain caused by pancreatitis, which is inflammation in the pancreas, is a severe and sharp pain in the upper middle of the abdomen that can sometimes radiate to your back or chest. You may also have nausea, vomiting and fever. Pancreatitis may occur either as a sudden acute attack or a chronic condition.