Abdominal Pain- Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment


A pain that occurs between the pelvis region and the chest is majorly regarded as abdominal pain. It is obvious for any individual to experience a stomach ache and depending upon the reason for the pain, the severity of the same can be largely outlined.

Most of the times, several diseases or inflammation that affect organs present in the abdomen lead to severe pain. Additionally, the bacterial, viral or the parasitic infection affecting intestine or stomach induce pain.

Type Of Abdominal Pain

Depending upon the location of the pain, severity and a few other factors, the type of pain could be largely classified as cramp-like, localised and colicky.

Localised Abdominal Pain

Localised is the kind of abdominal pain which is restricted to a particular area. It could be majorly due to an organ defect or associated infection. Only a part of the abdomen feels painful, and most of the times, stomach ulcers are expected to be the major cause.

When you experience cramps in your abdomen and similar pain across the entire area of the abdomen, it is mainly due to bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence etc. For women, it could be due to menstrual onset. Additionally, miscarriage and disruption in the reproductive system of females are a few other reasons for the cramp-like abdominal pain. This kind of pain appears and disappears on its own and does not seek medical aid.

Colicky Abdominal Pain

On the contrary, the type of abdominal pain referred to as colicky is largely serious and needs medical advice as early as possible. Severe cases of abdominal pain fall under this category. Kidney stones or the gallbladder stones are the prime cause behind a colicky abdominal pain. This kind of pain is very intense, occurs on its own and gives a feeling of muscle spasm.

To rule out the symptoms of the pain in the abdomen, a doctor needs to analyse the patient. The location of the pain in abdomen is another important factor that helps to draft out the cause of the abdominal pain. Several symptoms show pain only in the lower part of the abdomen and are specified by ectopic pregnancy and intestinal obstruction.

Women might experience pain owing to menstrual cramp, fibroid, miscarriage, ovarian cyst etc. Pain in the upper abdomen is characterised by a heart attack, gallstones, pneumonia etc. Additionally, pain in the centre of the abdomen is mainly because of injury, gastroenteritis, uremia and the pain in the lower abdomen is justified by the presence of cancer, infection in kidney, Crohn’s Disease etc. At times the pain is on the left side or the right side of abdomen.

The doctor prefers a series of tests and physical examination to see what could be the major reason behind the abdominal pain. Though at first glance, it appears normal and you might ignore the symptoms; in case you see the pain is not easing and getting worse, it is always better to seek medical advice as early as possible.

Causes of Abdominal Pain

Having said all about abdominal pain, it’s time we look into various causes of the same. Common causes include inflammation, abnormal growth, infection, intestinal disorder and the blockage or obstruction in the abdomen.

Also, the infection that occurs in the intestines, throat and blood are capable of entering the digestive area, thereby leading to severe pain in the abdomen. These might aggravate further problems such as diarrhoea or constipation. Sometimes, you could feel an intense lower abdomen pain, and this could be due to the menstrual cramps. However, this is confined to the pelvic region and does not fall under abdomen pain.

Several other causes of severe abdominal pain include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Acid reflux – the condition when the food is pushed back to the oesophagus leading to discomfort.
  • Stress
  • Vomiting

Several diseases that affect the organs present in the stomach leading to severe pain in the abdomen are:

  • Intolerance to lactose
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Spastic Colon
  • GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Kindly stone or kidney infection
  • Organ Rupture
  • Stone in Gallbladder

Risk Factors for Abdominal Pain

A stomach ache can be caused due to an array of factors. However, the presence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia makes the condition worse. Majorly, irregular meals lead to the above. Several digestive disorders seek psychological factors as the core reason behind the occurrence of abdominal pain. For instance, the patient suffering from diabetes mellitus suffer from poor digestion and are prone to abdominal pain. Additionally, a patient that is found to experience insomnia is also prone to poor appetite followed by a pain in the abdomen. Also, individuals that have recently had a heart failure witness poor digestion and hence pain in the abdomen. Additionally, people have thyroid disorders, chronic pancreas and celiac disease are at greater risk of having abdominal pain.

Symptoms of Abdominal Pain 

Most of the cases of individuals witnessing pain in the abdomen do not pose any serious threat and can be easily cured at home. A few hours of rest and mild hydration eases the pain.

However, if your experience chronic as well as severe symptoms of abdominal pain, you need to seek medical advice. Few of the symptoms that aggravate the condition of pain in abdomen include:

  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Severe exhaustion
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Irregular bowel movements like diarrhoea and constipation that is not cured after repetitive efforts.
  • Symptoms of UTI
  • Severe pain that continues even after intake of desired medication.

Few of the symptoms of abdominal pain that necessitate the need of emergency include:

  • Intense abdominal pain along with high fever.
  • Concentrated severe pain.
  • Black or bloody stool.
  • Vomiting that has blood accompanied with it.
  • Disruptive urination.
  • Pain in the abdomen that’s highly touch sensitive.
  • Being unconscious or induced feeling of faintness.
  • Severe pain extending to the chest.

Though it appears small and not dangerous, you might never know when a mild pain turns moderate. Additionally, if you experience your symptoms getting worse, it is always advised to consult a doctor.

Diagnosis of Abdominal Pain 

After knowing the cause as well as the symptoms of the pain in the abdomen, it’s time to see how your doctor diagnoses the same.

Few of the most common tests a doctor might prescribe to find out the real cause behind the occurrence of pain in abdomen include X-Rays, ultrasound, and MRI scans. All these are used to see the functioning of organs, several tissues, and few other abdominal structures along with the diagnosis of tumours, ruptures, fractures and also Inflammation.

Few other tests that might be conducted to rule out the symptoms of abdominal pain include:

  • Upper GI
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

Additionally, samples of blood, stool or urine might also be collected to seek pieces of evidence of viral, bacterial and also parasitic infections. Only after the doctor is sure about the cause of the disease after a series of tests, will the doctor prescribe significant medications.

Treatments of Abdominal Pain

In a few cases, medication is prescribed for the changes in the behaviour of an individual owing to the advent of abdominal pain due to several beverages or food. In few cases, similar to a hernia or appendicitis several tests conducted like blood analysis, samples of stool, urine, endoscopy, and CT scans need to be performed to rule out the indication of any serious disease.

Few of the medications as prescribed by the doctor include:

  • Pain Relievers as obtained over the counter
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants that have less dose
  • Medicine to treat GERD, inflammation, general pain or ulcers.
  • Surgery to get rid of a hernia
  • Several dietary changes to ease mood and personal behaviour.


Thus, as mentioned multiple times, it becomes very important to determine the exact cause behind your abdominal pain and accordingly take necessary actions which help in its treatment.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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