Abdominal Pain: What are the causes and how to address the pain
Pain in different parts of your abdomen can have different root causes. Learn what this abdominal pain could mean for your health.
·September 13th, 2021
Abdominal pain can take many different forms: lower left abdominal pain may be different from lower right abdominal pain, from upper left abdominal pain, and from upper right abdominal pain.
Abdominal pain may be caused by a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s, or endometriosis, but it could also be an acute illness or infection, like stomach flu or appendicitis.
If you’re experiencing abdominal pain, Bright Belly’s provider search can help you find a practitioner to address your symptoms, in conjunction with your primary care provider.
Abdominal pain is a common symptom but feeling an unexplained pain in your midsection can also be scary and confusing. Your abdomen houses most of your major internal organs as well as the majority of your digestive system and reproductive organs, so when you experience abdominal pain, there are many potential causes.
General vs. local pain
Abdominal pain can be generalized (meaning you feel the pain all over your abdomen in a non-specific way), or localized (meaning the pain is coming from a specific area of your abdomen). Some common sources of abdominal pain are an intestinal obstruction, inflammation, growths, infection, and digestive disorders.
Certain kinds of pain are minor and can be safely ignored, while others require immediate medical care. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of localized stomach pain so that you can hone in on what might be causing yours.
Kidney stones or a kidney infection: These will typically present in the back of your abdomen and can be mistaken for back pain.
Ovarian cysts of endometriosis: Pain that comes and goes with your menstrual cycle may indicate one of these conditions. Naturopathic treatment can be effective and far lower in side effects than pharmaceutical or surgical options.
Appendix: Your appendix is on the right side of your abdomen, but early-stage appendicitis can be felt in the middle of the belly (some people will experience left-side pain as well). Appendicitis pain can be identified by pressing gently into the painful area, and then releasing. If releasing the pressure makes the pain worse, that’s an indication of possible appendicitis.
Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease: These inflammatory bowel diseases usually present with cramping pain and digestive issues (most typically severe diarrhea). If you suspect you may have an inflammatory bowel disease, a registered dietitian can be a huge asset in reevaluating your diet in the new context of your intestinal condition.
A hernia: Inguinal hernias can present on either side, though they are more common on the lower right quadrant.
Viral gastroenteritis (aka the stomach flu), norovirus (aka food poisoning) or a bacterial infection like salmonella: If your pain is cramping and accompanied by chills, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, one of these may be the culprit.
Lower right quadrant abdominal pain
Pain in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen (below your navel) can indicate:
Appendix: “Classic” appendicitis presents with severe pain in the right-side.
Kidney stones or a kidney infection: These can affect one or both kidneys, and can range from a throbbing ache to extreme stabbing pain.
If you’re suffering from pain in the upper left quadrant (above your navel) of your abdomen, it could be due to:
An enlarged spleen: Pain in your spleen feels like it is coming from behind your ribs and may be tender to the touch. A feeling of fullness may precede or accompany acute pain. There are a number of homeopathic treatments that are used to treat both the actual spleen enlargement, and any underlying issues that may be causing it.
Severe constipation or impacted feces: Fecal impaction can result from a large, hard mass of stool getting stuck in the colon. Pain can result from pressure to surrounding tissues.
Upper right quadrant abdominal pain
Pain that comes from the upper right (above the navel) quadrant of your abdomen can be a sign of:
No matter where your pain is located, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention or contact a health care professional to get an accurate diagnosis. Abdominal pain can be no big deal, or the sign of a potentially life-threatening condition.
Especially if your pain is accompanied by other symptoms such unexplained weight loss, chronic pain that doesn’t respond to medication, blood in the stool etc…, you may required medical attention.
Once you get cleared by your medical doctor, there are many complementary treatment options that can support or treat the condition that is causing your discomfort. Check out Bright Belly’s list of providers who can meet your needs.