Causes of Abdominal Pain

Causes and forms of abdominal pain

In principle, one differentiates between abdominal pain visceral Abdominal pain from parietal Stomach pain.
Visceral abdominal pain is a stimulation of nerves by abdominal organs.

Organs like

  • liver
  • spleen
  • stomach
  • Intestines
  • pancreas
  • Biliary tract
  • ureter
  • female reproductive organs etc.

do not have their own nerves that cause pain.

For this reason, when these organs are affected, the pain is transmitted via nerves that are further away. In case of inflammation, stretching or cramps of the organs described there is a corresponding transmission of stimuli, which then occurs in the brain recognized as pain. Visceral pain is often described as dull, difficult to localize and distributed over a large area. Often times there are visceral abdominal pain with sweats, restlessness and Vomit connected. Abdominal pain and nausea are a common combination. Patients with this pain often find it difficult to rest, are nervous, and walk up and down or toss around in bed.

Parietal abdominal pain is spoken of when that Peritoneum (the so-called peritoneum) is affected by an illness. The peritoneum is sensitive to pain and transmits the stimulus to the brain more quickly and clearly localizable for the patient. Patients experience this pain as bright, stabbing, or cutting. Since parietal pain is often exacerbated by movement, patients move as little as possible and remain in a position where the pain can be tolerated for as long as possible.
As you can see, the causes of abdominal pain are manifold.

Abdominal pain from colic

The colic is characterized by cramp-like, often strongest pain, which is not caused by an independent action such as e.g. Change of posture etc. can be changed. Colic pain are mostly shooting, very strong and of short duration. One also speaks of the so-called Wave character The colic pain, as it occurs suddenly, disappears again, only to reach a painful climax in the next few minutes. Abdominal colic is most often caused by stones in the Gallbladder triggered, which either get caught in the bile ducts and cause severe discomfort there, or are so large that they cause pain in the gallbladder through movement. Kidney stones can also trigger colic, but these are mostly localized in the respective flank side. In some cases, however, this type of colic can also lead to pain radiating into the abdomen.

Abdominal pain from infections

A large number of pathogens are able to cause diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and thus also lead to abdominal pain.
The most common pathogens that cause gastrointestinal infections are:

  • Rotavirus
  • Coronavirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Shigella
  • Yersinia
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Vibrio cholerae

The abdominal pain, which cannot be precisely localized, is usually accompanied by diarrhea. Depending on how long the symptoms persist, a doctor should be consulted. In the vast majority of cases, the pain and diarrhea will go away after a few days. However, it is important to ensure a balanced fluid balance, as one must not forget that the diarrhea removes not only minerals from the body, but also fluid. If this lost fluid is not returned to the body immediately, cramp-like abdominal pain will develop.

Abdominal pain from inflammation

There are also a variety of Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract or the organs in the abdomen that can cause abdominal pain. Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis sometimes cause severe abdominal pain. Most of the time, these pains are also associated with diarrhea that is sometimes bloody. If the pancreas is inflamed, there is also a reduction in general well-being stomach painwhich the patient feels like a belt around his stomach. This pain is dull and cannot be precisely localized. Often the patients also complain Inflammation of the pancreas (Pancreatitis) via broadcasting in the move.
Patients who are under a will express more feeling of pressure than intense pain Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis) Suffer. Acute gastritis becomes relatively quick and mostly from fatty foods or too much alcohol triggered.

The higher consumption of soft drinks such as Cola, Fanta, Sprite can lead to abdominal pain and inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Read more about this topic under: Abdominal pain from (too much) cola.

Acute gastritis usually does not need to be treated. The symptoms often go away in a few days. A chronic form, however, remains and must definitely be treated, since if left untreated, a stomach ulcer can result.
The infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori can lead to a gastric ulcer via an inflammatory process and also trigger stomach complaints. These complaints are relatively easy to localize and can quickly be assigned to the stomach, a hand's breadth above the navel.
Please also read our topic on the Symptoms of Helicobacter pylori.
A Gastric ulcer (Ulcer), of which there are many different types, should be dealt with, as this may result in a Gastric cancer can develop.

Abdominal pain from vascular obstruction

But a rarer one very serious cause from stomach pain represent closures of vessels. In one Infarctsupplying the intestines Mesenteric artery there is a need for action as soon as possible, as this is a life-threatening condition. Characteristically, patients complain of sudden severe abdominal pain, which is described as acrid and stabbing and of unprecedented severity. This pain disappears after a while and the often underestimated latency period occurs. If treatment is not started immediately, one will occur Intestinal obstruction with partly septic and fatal Course. A heart attack in women in particular often manifests itself as abdominal pain and is understandably not correctly assessed.
Most of the time, the stomach pain in a heart attack is accompanied by symptoms such as restlessness, sweating and Racing heart connected.
In the vast majority of cases it will Heart attacksthat do not express themselves through abdominal pain or recognized too late.
Abdominal pain, which is the cause of a heart attack, is usually classified as dull and not properly localized.

Abdominal pain from gynecological diseases

In the Gynecology patients often complain of abdominal or abdominal pain. In many cases, depending on when the pain occurs, it is not dangerous Menstrual painthat can radiate from the abdomen to the abdomen. If the occurrence is not close to the rules or if these symptoms appear for the first time in adult patients, you must next to one Ectopic pregnancy fibroids in the uterus and malignant changes are also excluded.
In young patients who complain about a lack of menstruation and abdominal or abdominal pain, the so-called Maier Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, in which the vagina was not created and so during the Menstruation cause pain can be ruled out as a cause.

Abdominal pain in pregnancy

Abdominal pain during pregnancy is understood to mean abdominal discomfort between the first month and the ninth month pregnancywhich are of more harmless origin but can also be caused by serious diseases.

The pain is standing not always in direct context with pregnancy. In this context, it should not be forgotten that not all illnesses that can happen to pregnant women have something to do with the actual carrying the child to term. So there is a risk that numerous internal medical problems should first be interpreted for gynecological causes.

Abdominal pain in pregnant women can be gynecological or internal causes to have. The internal causes include Colic of the bile and kidneys, Inflammation of the pancreas, Diverticulitis as well as intestinal obstruction and gastrointestinal infections.
Gynecological causes of abdominal pain include Ectopic pregnancies, Ovarian inflammation, Ovarian cysts and premature Labor pains.
These can have different causes. Psychological reasons are not to be underestimated although also one Placental insufficiency must be excluded.

Irregularities in digestion are often caused by different pressures exerted by the fetus. But you usually need no further treatment. Ectopic pregnancies are either medicated in the one hormone is applied, which is intended to reject the fetus. If this does not succeed, one has to operative fallopian tube removal be carried out on the patient.
Inflammation of the Fallopian tubes be with Bed rest as well as anti-inflammatory drugs and Antibiotics treated. At first, cysts on the ovary only need to be observed. From a certain size or in the event of complaints, a surgical removal respectively.

Abdominal pain from urological diseases

Also numerous urological diseases can stomach pain cause. If there are bladder stones in the bladder, there may be a feeling of pressure in the abdominal region that radiates into the abdomen. Kidney stones or stones caught in the ureters can also occur in addition to the colicky pain cause pain radiating to the abdomen in the flank region.

Abdominal pain from orthopedic diseases and poor posture

stomach pain can also be triggered by causes without affecting an abdominal organ.
At Herniated discs for example it can be next to the Back pain also to shooting pain in the abdominal region come. Postural anomalies, particularly stooped postures, can lead to an unnatural displacement of the abdominal organs and thus to pain. People who sit a lot often complain of abdominal pain, which, after excluding other diseases, must be assigned to postural anomalies.
Please also read our topic Abdominal pain and back pain

Abdominal pain as an emergency - the acute abdomen

Sometimes abdominal pain is an absolute emergency. This is also called the acute abdomen. The acute abdomen is characterized by severe abdominal pain. Whether lying or standing, the patient will try to get into a relieving position. Most often this will be a crouched position or, when lying down, a crouched position. Furthermore, the patient with an acute abdomen has a board-hard stomach, which is caused by a reflex defense tension.
In the vast majority of cases, the only treatment for an acute abdomen is surgery. The exception is the so-called pseudoperitonitis, which can occur due to a derailed blood sugar value in the clinical picture of diabetes mellitus.The symptoms are similar to peritonitis but, in contrast, can be remedied by adjusting the blood sugar level. The mentioned peritonitis (Peritonitis) in its strongest form can also trigger an acute abdomen with a board-like stomach and defensive tension.
The most common causes of peritonitis are acute appendicitis (see also: abdominal pain, left) and an intestinal obstruction. Immigrating bacteria such as E. coli or enterococci can lead to peritonitis with severe abdominal pain, a very poor general condition and danger to life. In principle, every cracked and opened (ruptured) Abdominal organ, whatever the cause, accompanied by peritonitis. It is an absolute emergency because the patient is in absolute danger. If left untreated, the outcome is very often fatal.

Read more on this topic at: Acute abdomen

Causes mainly in infants and newborns

3 month colic: Screaming about 1 ½ hours after eating

Necrotizing enterocolitis Especially in premature babies: bloated stomach, bilious vomiting and intestinal obstruction, bloody stools, tense, livid abdominal skin with visible intestinal loops

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis: gushy, non-bilious vomiting immediately after ingestion, usually in the 4. to 8- Week of life, but can also be symptom-free up to 6 months of age.

Duodenal stenosis, atresia (Closure of the duodenum): bilious or non-bilious vomiting, a lot of amniotic fluid on prenatal ultrasound (polyhydramnios)

Small and large intestinal atresia: bilious or non-bilious vomiting, a lot of amniotic fluid on prenatal ultrasound (polyhydramnios)

Anal atresia (congenital lack of development of the anus): possible occurrence of a fistula

Volvolus (rotation one Section of Digestive tract): severe abdominal pain, bilious vomiting, shock

Hirschsprung's disease: Vomiting, chronic constipation, failure to thrive

Meconium ileus (Intestinal obstruction by Meconium): distended abdomen, vomiting, no meconium waste to of the birth, dilated air-filled loops of intestine

Causes of Abdominal Pain at Any Age

Acute constipation (constipation): atyp. Pain, ampoule full of stools, no bowel movements

Intussusception (Bowel invasion): Sudden crying, then quiet child, later bloody stool

Incarcerated inguinal hernia (Pinched hernia usually with intestinal loops): Screaming, vomiting, swelling of the groin

Acute gastroenteritis ("Gastrointestinal flu"): abdominal pain all over the abdomen, often diarrhea and vomiting

appendicitis (Appendicitis): Severe pain first in the middle of the abdomen, then moving to the left lower abdomen, often with a slight fever, vomiting, nausea and constipation.

Peritonitis (Peritonitis "): very painful, hard stomach with nausea, vomiting, intestinal obstruction (ileus) and a strong feeling of illness.

hepatitis (Inflammation of the liver): Abdominal pain due to pain in the liver capsule, possibly with itching, yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and poor general condition.

Urolithiasis (Urinary stones): Colic-like (wavy) severe pain

Acute urinary retention (Inability to urinate): Severe pain in the middle lower abdomen and no urine leakage with a clear urge to urinate and pressure-painful bladder.

Testicular torsion (Rotation of the stem of the testicles and epididymis): Affects mainly male adolescents. Sudden, intense pain and Testicular swelling.

Colonoscopy: Not only illnesses can cause abdominal pain. Some examination methods such as colonoscopy can also cause stomach pain. You can read more about this topic at: Abdominal pain after a colonoscopy.