Abdominal Pain: Symptoms & Signs


Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR


Pain in the abdomen (abdomen) can come from conditions that affect a variety of organs. The abdomen is an anatomical area that is bounded by the lower margin of the upper ribs, the pelvic bone (pubis) below and the wings on each side. Although abdominal pain may arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall that surround the abdominal cavity (for example, the skin and muscles of the abdominal wall), and abdominal pain uses general term to describe the pain caused by the limbs. inside the abdominal cavity (for example, under the skin and muscle). These organs include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Sometimes, you may feel pain in your abdomen, even if it originates in organs that are near but not within the abdominal cavity, such as the lungs, kidneys, uterus, or lower ovaries. This last type of pain is called “referred pain” because the pain, although it originates outside the abdomen, is known as (sensation) in the abdomen.

Abdominal pain can be acute and sudden at the beginning, or it can be a chronic and lasting pain. Abdominal pain may be mild and may not be of great importance, or it may reflect a major problem related to one of the abdominal organs. The characteristics of the pain (location, time, duration, etc.) are important to diagnose the cause. Continuous abdominal pain should be evaluated by the doctor.

Include several causes of abdominal pain, but not limited to, indigestion after eating and gallstones and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), pregnancy, gas and inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) , appendicitis, ulcers, and inflammation of the stomach, gastric reflux disease esophageal gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis (viral or bacterial), parasitic infections, endometriosis, kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), injury to the abdominal muscles, abdominal hernia, intolerance to lactose, gluten intolerance (celiac disease), food poisoning, spasms Blepharitis, peritonitis, cerebrovascular disease, vasculitis, abdominal aneurysm, abdominal trauma and constipation.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2017
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