Abdominal Pain

Occasional abdominal pain or stomachaches happen to everyone. If it occurs often, hurts a lot or doesn't go away, your abdominal pain may be caused by a condition that needs medical attention.

Abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of things, such as gas or a pulled muscle, but sometimes the issue can be more significant.

Symptoms

Most abdominal pain isn't serious and will go away without treatment. If you are worried or the pain isn't getting better, see your doctor.

Get immediate medical help if you have abdominal pain and:

  • It is severe
  • You can't get comfortable in any position
  • It doesn't get better after a few days
  • You have chest pain
  • You have vomiting
  • Your abdomen swells
  • Your pain is the result of an injury or accident
  • You have bloody diarrhea
  • You have tenderness in your abdomen
  • You have a fever
  • You have pain when urinating
  • You can't have a bowel movement
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You are pregnant

Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine you and talk to you about your pain. The area where you feel pain helps your doctor pinpoint the cause.

  • General pain: Conditions ranging from appendicitis and urinary tract infection to Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lower abdomen: Conditions ranging from appendicitis and ectopic pregnancy to diverticulitis and inflammation of the fallopian tubes (salpingitis)
  • Upper abdomen: Conditions ranging from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) and gallstones to pancreatitis and heart attack
  • Middle abdomen: Conditions ranging from appendicitis and intestinal obstruction to pancreatitis and thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Lower left abdomen: Conditions ranging from Crohn's disease and diverticulitis to ulcerative colitis and kidney stones
  • Upper left abdomen: Conditions ranging from shingles and spleen infection to heart attack and hiatal hernia
  • Lower right abdomen: Conditions ranging from cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) and ovarian cysts to appendicitis and stomach flu
  • Upper right abdomen: Conditions ranging from cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct) and hepatitis to fecal impaction (hardened stools) and peptic ulcer

You may have tests including:

  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Stool test
  • Enema
  • X-rays
  • CT (computed tomography) scans
  • Ultrasound
  • Barium swallow
  • Endoscopy

Treatment

Your treatment depends on what your doctor determines to be the cause of your pain. Some conditions can be treated with medication. Your doctor might recommend changes in your diet and activity. Some conditions may need surgery.

Our gastroenterology specialists are experienced in treating every colorectal condition, including abdominal pain.

Find an Aurora Health Care GI Specialist