What is Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. Abdominal pain can be acute or chronic and include sharp pain as well as dull pain. The abdomen is an anatomical area that is bounded by the lower margin of the ribs, the pelvic bone (pubic ramus) below, and the flanks on each side. Although pain can arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall that surround the abdominal cavity (such as the skin and muscles), the term abdominal pain generally is used to describe discomfort originating from organs within the abdominal cavity. Organs of the abdomen include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas.

Other ways to describe pain in your abdomen include:

  • Generalized pain — This means that in more than half of your belly you feel it. This type of pain is more typical of a gas, indigestion, or stomach virus. If the pain gets worse, it can be caused by an intestinal blockage.
  • Localized pain — The pain found in one area of your belly. A symptom of an organ malfunction, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or abdomen, is more likely to be.
  • Cramp-like pain -Most of the time this kind of pain isn’t extreme. It is probably due to gas and bloating, and diarrhea is often accompanied. More alarming symptoms include more regularly occurring pain, lasting more than 24 hours, or occurring with fever.
  • Colicky pain — This type of pain comes in waves. It suddenly begins and ends very often, and is often severe. This type of abdominal pain is caused by kidney stones and gallstones.

What causes abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation of an organ. Some other causes include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergies
  • Gas
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis

Symptoms:

Common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Gas (flatus, farting)
  • Indigestion
  • Discomfort in the upper left or right; middle; or lower left or right abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
  • Heartburn
  • Chest discomfort
  • Pelvic discomfort

What Kind of Doctor Treats Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal pain can be treated by a variety of doctors depending on the cause of the pain. It is usually best to start with a primary care physician who can begin the diagnosis process of the pain’s origin. You will be treated by a primary care doctor (i.e. ulcers, infection) or referred to a surgeon (appendicitis, torsion of the ovary), gastroenterologist, depending on the final diagnosis.

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