Abdominal Pain - Causes

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What causes abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation (for example, appendicitis, diverticulitis, colitis), by stretching or distention of an organ (for example, obstruction of the intestine, blockage of a bile duct by gallstones, swelling of the liver with hepatitis), or by loss of the supply of blood to an organ (for example, ischemic colitis).

To complicate matters, however, abdominal pain also can occur without inflammation, distention or loss of blood supply. An important example of this latter type of pain is the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is not clear what causes the abdominal pain in IBS, but it is believed to be due either to abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles (for example, spasm) or abnormally sensitive nerves within the intestines that give rise to painful sensations inappropriately (visceral hyper-sensitivity). These latter types of pain are often referred to as functional pain because no recognizable (visible) causes for the pain have been found - at least not yet.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Georgia, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 30

I do not know because I too get severe, cramping, excruciating abdominal pain about once or twice a year. It sometimes feel as though am going to have a heart attack, because my heart speeds up. With this I get cold sweating, shaking, and sometimes nausea and an urge to have a BM. Sometimes, the pain goes away when this happens. Sometimes the first BM is hard and the rest is soft to runny. Once I took a cleaner to have my bowel scope, and this too cause these very symptoms. It would last for 3 hours and then go away, sometimes leaving me with chills and fever overnight. I have been getting these symptoms since in my early teens, but now they have worsened.

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Comment from: laheyglen, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 20

I have been having a bad stomach for 10 days now. Started with a cramp in the lower right side with a pain in the right testicular which was there (the pain in the testical) about 2 weeks before. Then the same day I am working and my stomach start getting severely cold. I go to the hospital and get sent to another for a CT scan and nothing shows up, nothing on my blood work and my X-Rays show that I had a little blockage in my stomach. So now I am taking pills for cramps, stool softener and antibiotics. Just wondering what you think this could be because they "THINK" it could be IBS. but they also can't explain why my stomach being cold or the pain in my testical. I got no fever and no problems using the washroom.

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