10+ Types and Causes of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain, as the name implies, is felt in the middle of the torso, and is generally used to describe discomfort that originates from the organs within the abdominal cavity. The organs include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas. However, organs in close proximity to the abdominal cavity, such as the lower lungs, kidneys, and uterus, can play a part in causing abdominal pain as well. Abdominal pain can also refer to pain caused by the tissues and muscles that line the abdominal wall.
For abdominal pain that stems from the organs, it is usually because of organ inflammation (i.e. appendicitis, diverticulitis, and colitis), stretching or distention of an organ (i.e. liver swelling, gallstones, and intestinal obstruction), or the loss of blood supply to an organ (i.e. ischemic colitis). Common symptoms include bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, chest or pelvic discomfort, gas, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, these symptoms may overlap with those of other diseases or change over time, making it difficult to properly diagnose abdominal pain. Therefore, it is important for physical examinations and tests to be used; if the condition is severe, surgery may be an option for diagnosis.
However, abdominal pain is tricky in that not all forms of abdominal pain is caused by organs. Other causes include dehydration, bloody stool, painful urination, lack of urination, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is caused by abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles or abnormally sensitive nerves of the intestines, both of which can lead to pain. Another form of abdominal pain comes in Centrally Mediated Abdominal Pain Syndrome (CAPS), which can be either chronic or recurs frequently. It is due to altered sensitivity to nerve impulses in the gut and brain, not intestinal movements.
Due to the different causes behind abdominal pain, there are different ways to relieve the pain as well. Taking antacids may neutralize any acid that irritates stomach ulcers; painkillers are also an option for pain. Vomiting may relieve pain caused by obstruction of the stomach or small intestine. Bowel movement is also a common method of relieving pain caused by IBS and constipation. While these are reliable and commonly used methods of relieving abdominal pain, professional and medical assistance should be sought if the pain is related to another injury, if the pain moves to the chest, neck or shoulder, if there is blood in vomit or urine, if a high fever is contracted, or if there is dizziness or nausea. These are signs that the condition may be more severe than it initially appeared so, or has developed into a more severe condition. Thus, while abdominal pain can be treated with home remedies or taking painkillers, it is important to be aware of when to seek medical assistance.