Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain: See main article: Abdominal Pain

Abdominal: Relating to the abdomen, which is the stomach and other internal organs.

Pain: See main article: Pain

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Summary

An unpleasant sensation characterized by physical discomfort (such as pricking, throbbing, or aching) and perceived to originate in the abdomen. [from HPO]

Source: GTR (NCBI/NIH)1

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Abdominal pain

Your abdomen (or tummy) contains many organs - like the stomach, intestines, liver and bladder.

If you or a family member has abdominal pain, it might be caused by a simple upset tummy - or it could be something more complicated. 

Source: New Zealand Health2

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Learn about what can cause abdominal (tummy or stomach) pain, self-care tips, and when to see your doctor.

Source: New Zealand Health3

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Pelvic pain is felt below your bellybutton. It may come on suddenly and severely, or could be mild and last for months.

See your GP as soon as possible if you're experiencing pelvic pain.

In some cases, women may be referred to a gynaecologist (a specialist in the female reproductive system). Sometimes the cause of pelvic pain can't be identified.

The following information is about pelvic pain in women, as men are rarely affected.

Source: NHS Choices UK4

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Sudden, unexpected pelvic pain

Pelvic pain that comes on suddenly for the first time is called acute pelvic pain.

See your GP immediately if you have acute pelvic pain. They'll be able to investigate the cause and arrange any necessary treatment.

Source: NHS Choices UK5

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Abdominal pain: An unpleasant sensation characterized by physical discomfort (such as pricking, throbbing, or aching) and perceived to originate in the abdomen.

The term stomach cramps is a nonmedical term often used to describe pain in the mid- or upper abdominal area, even though it is not the case that the (smooth) muscles of the stomach or the abdomen have cramps. Stomach pain is another layperson term commonly used to refer to abdominal pain.6

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Abdominal Pain: Sensation of discomfort, distress, or agony in the abdominal region.7

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Abdominal Pain: Painful sensation in the abdominal region.8

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Abdominal Pain: Sensation of discomfort, distress, or agony in the abdominal region.9

Types

Types may include:10

Types of Abdominal Pain:

Causes of Abdominal Pain

There are many causes of pain low in the abdomen. In women, major genital organs are found inside the pelvis: the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries. Problems related to these organs can cause pain low in the abdomen.

Pain low in the abdomen may be a sign of infection. If a woman has had unprotected sex, she may be at risk of a sexually transmitted infection. This includes:

If you think you may have been at risk of getting a sexually transmissible infection, have a sexual health check. See your doctor, family planning clinic or sexual health clinic.

Source: Queensland Health11

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Your abdomen contains many other important organs. Pain in the abdomen can come from any one of them. The pain may start somewhere else, such as your chest.

Severe pain doesn't always mean a serious problem. Nor does mild pain mean a problem is not serious.

Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)12

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Causes of minor abdominal pain

Tummy pain can be caused by the movement of food through your stomach and intestines, having gas (wind) trapped there, or eating too much. 

Some other causes of minor abdominal pain (or cramp) are:

As well as the tummy pain, you might also have rumbling and gurgling noises, belching (burping), wind (passing gas), nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, urinary problems, and/or loss of appetite.

Source: New Zealand Health13

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Causes of more serious abdominal pain

Some abdominal pain might have a more serious cause - and the pain will often be worse.

These causes can include:

Source: New Zealand Health14

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Common causes of stomach ache

Use these links to get an idea of how to ease the most common causes of stomach ache. See a GP if you're worried.

Type of stomach ache -- Possible condition

Feeling bloated, farting a lot -- trapped wind

Feeling full and bloated after eating, heartburn, feeling sick -- indigestion

Can't poo -- constipation

Watery poo, feeling sick, vomiting -- diarrhoea or food poisoning

Source: NHS Choices UK15

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Other causes of stomach ache

Don't self-diagnose - see a GP if you're worried.

Type of stomach ache -- Possible condition

Pain and cramps when you have your period -- period pain

Sudden pain in the lower right-hand side -- appendicitis

Ongoing cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation -- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Bad ongoing pain that can go down to your groin, nausea, pain when peeing -- kidney stones

Severe pain that lasts for hours in the centre of your tummy or just under the ribs on the right-hand side -- Gallstones

Source: NHS Choices UK16

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Common causes of acute pelvic pain

The most common causes of acute pelvic pain in women who aren't pregnant are:

Source: NHS Choices UK17

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Less common reasons for acute pelvic pain

Less common causes of acute pelvic pain include:

  • a pelvic abscess - a collection of pus between the womb and vagina that needs urgent treatment in hospital
  • endometriosis - a long-term condition where small pieces of womb lining are found outside the womb, such as on the ovaries, leading to painful periods

Source: NHS Choices UK18

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Common causes of chronic pelvic pain

The most common causes of chronic pelvic pain are:

Source: NHS Choices UK19

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Less common reasons for chronic pelvic pain

Less common causes of chronic pelvic pain include:

Source: NHS Choices UK20

Specific Causes of Abdominal Pain

Heart attack: Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back, and jaw

This symptom can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of stomach (not below the belly button). Pain in the back, neck, or jaw is a more common heart attack symptom for women than it is for men.

If you have any one of these symptoms and it lasts for more than five minutes, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care. Even if your symptoms go away in less than five minutes, call your doctor right away—it could be a sign that a heart attack is coming soon. Don't waste time trying home remedies or waiting for the feelings to pass on their own. Remember, quick treatment can save your life.

Source: OWH (DHHS)21

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Cholecystitis: Unlike other types of abdominal pain, the pain of acute cholecystitis is usually persistent and doesn't go away within a few hours.

Source: NHS Choices UK22

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Acute cholecystitis: The main symptom of acute cholecystitis is a sudden sharp pain in the upper right-hand side of your tummy (abdomen). This pain spreads towards your right shoulder.

Source: NHS Choices UK23

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Cholecystitis: The main symptom of acute cholecystitis is a sudden sharp pain in the upper right-hand side of your tummy (abdomen). This pain spreads towards your right shoulder.

The affected part of the abdomen is usually very tender, and breathing deeply can make the pain worse.

Unlike other types of abdominal pain, the pain of acute cholecystitis is usually persistent and doesn't go away within a few hours.

Source: NHS Choices UK24

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Ectopic pregnancy: You may experience tummy pain, typically low down on one side. It can develop suddenly or gradually, and may be persistent or come and go.

Tummy pain can have lots of causes, including stomach bugs and trapped wind, so it doesn't necessarily mean you have an ectopic pregnancy.

Source: NHS Choices UK25

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Acute pancreatitis: The most common symptom of acute pancreatitis is a sudden severe dull pain in the centre of your upper abdomen, around the top of your stomach.

The pain of acute pancreatitis often gets steadily worse until it reaches a constant ache. The ache may travel from your abdomen and along your back and may feel worse after you have eaten. Leaning forward or curling into a ball may help to relieve the pain.

Source: NHS Choices UK26

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Acute pancreatitis: The most common symptom is sudden pain in the centre of your belly.

Source: NHS Choices UK27

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Ovarian cancer: Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

Source: NHS Choices UK28

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Acute Appendicitis: Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix, a finger-like pouch attached to the gut wall. It's most common in children, who typically complain of pain in the middle of their tummy that comes and goes. The pain then shifts to the lower-right side of the tummy and gets worse.

Appendicitis is a medical emergency that usually needs an urgent operation to remove the appendix before it bursts.

Read more about appendicitis.

Watch this animation to learn about the causes and treatment of appendicitis.

Source: NHS Choices UK29

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Acute pancreatitis: Acute pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is the swelling of the pancreas, a banana-sized organ that's part of the digestive system. The most common symptom is severe abdominal pain that appears suddenly.

This dull aching pain often gets steadily worse and can travel along your back or below your left shoulder blade.

Eating or drinking, especially fatty foods, may also make you feel worse very quickly. Leaning forward or curling into a ball may help to relieve the pain, but lying flat on your back often increases it.

Read more about pancreatitis.

Source: NHS Choices UK30

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Stomach ulcer: Stomach ulcer

An ulcer is a sore or hole that forms in the lining of the stomach. A stomach ulcer can cause a burning pain in the abdomen, often between meals.

An untreated ulcer can burn through the stomach wall, letting digestive juices and food leak into the abdominal cavity, causing disabling pain.

This is called a perforated ulcer and is a medical emergency that usually needs to be operated on immediately.

Read more about stomach ulcer.

Source: NHS Choices UK31

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Testicular torsion: Go to A&E if you get sudden, unbearable pain in your testicles or tummy

This could be caused by your testicle becoming twisted, which needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible.

Source: NHS Choices UK32

Differential Diagnosis for Abdominal Pain

Angina: In some cases, the pain is similar to indigestion.

Source: NHS Choices UK33

Treatments for Abdominal Pain

Self care

A minor abdominal problem will usually get better in about 2 hours.

Try these ideas - and if they don’t help, see your doctor. 

  • Lie down and rest until you feel better.
  • Sip on clear fluids. Don’t eat solids until the pain goes.
  • A hot water bottle or wheat pack on your tummy may help - or a warm bath.
  • You can take paracetamol for the pain - but no other types of painkillers, because they can irritate your stomach and make the pain worse.

If you have indigestion or heartburn, try an over-the-counter antacid such as Mylanta or Gaviscon.

Source: New Zealand Health34

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How a pharmacist can help with stomach ache

A pharmacist can:

Source: NHS Choices UK35

Synonyms and Related Terms

Synonyms of Abdominal pain:

36

Categories

Category of Abdominal pain:

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Categories

Category of Abdominal Pain:

38

Related Symptoms

Read more information about these related symptoms:

Related Diseases and Conditions

Read more information about these diseases and medical conditions related to Abdominal Pain:

Symptom Articles

Read more about these related symptoms:

Disease Articles

Read more about these related conditions and diseases:



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References

  1. Source: GTR (NCBI/NIH): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ gtr/ conditions/ CN001834/ 
  2. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ abdominal-pain
  3. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses
  4. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ pelvic-pain/ 
  5. ibid.
  6. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  7. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  8. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  9. Source: Monarch Initiative
  10. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  11. Source: Queensland Health: conditions.health.qld.gov.au/ HealthCondition/ condition/ 21/ 121/ 1/ abdominal-pain-in-women
  12. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ abdominalpain.html
  13. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ abdominal-pain
  14. ibid.
  15. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ stomach-ache/ 
  16. ibid.
  17. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ pelvic-pain/ 
  18. ibid.
  19. ibid.
  20. ibid.
  21. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ heartattack/ symptoms.html
  22. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ acute-cholecystitis/ 
  23. ibid.
  24. ibid.
  25. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ ectopic-pregnancy/ symptoms/ 
  26. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ gallstones/ complications/ 
  27. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ mumps/ complications/ 
  28. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ ovarian-cancer/ 
  29. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ Livewell/ Pain/ Pages/ 20-painful-conditions.aspx
  30. ibid.
  31. ibid.
  32. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ testicle-lumps-and-swellings/ 
  33. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ angina/ symptoms/ 
  34. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ abdominal-pain
  35. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ stomach-ache/ 
  36. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  37. ibid.
  38. Source: Monarch Initiative
  39. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ pelvic-pain/ 
  40. Source: GARD (NIH): rarediseases.info.nih.gov/ diseases/ 8605/ acquired-angioedema
  41. Source: RDCRN (NCATS/NIH): rarediseasesnetwork.org/ cms/ porphyrias/ Learn-More/ Disorder-Definitions
  42. Source: GARD (NIH): rarediseases.info.nih.gov/ diseases/ 436/ adult-onset-stills-disease
  43. Source: CDC Parasites: cdc.gov/ parasites/ chagas/ 

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.