Printer Logo

Abdominal pain

Appendicitis
Kidney function

Definition

Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.

Alternative Names

Stomach pain; Pain - abdomen; Belly ache; Abdominal cramps; Bellyache; Stomachache

Considerations

Almost everyone has pain in the abdomen at some point. Most of the time, it is not serious.

How bad your pain is does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain.

For example, you might have very bad abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps due to viral gastroenteritis.

However, life-threatening conditions, such as colon cancer or early appendicitis, may only cause mild pain or no pain.

Other ways to describe pain in your abdomen include:

Causes

Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care. Sometimes you may only need to call a doctor if your symptoms continue.

Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:

Other possible causes include:

Sometimes, abdominal pain may occur due to a problem somewhere else in your body, such as your chest or pelvic area. For example, you may have abdominal pain if you have:

Home Care

You can try the following home care steps to ease mild abdominal pain:

These additional steps may help prevent some types of abdominal pain:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Get medical help right away or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if you:

Call your doctor if you have:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your specific symptoms, the location of pain and when it occurs will help your health care provider diagnosis the cause.

LOCATION OF YOUR PAIN

TYPE AND INTESITY OF YOUR PAIN

HISTORY OF YOUR PAIN

OTHER MEDICAL HISTORY

Tests that may be done include:

References

Ebell MH. Diagnosis of appendicitis: part 1. History and physical examination. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77:828-830.

Bundy DG, Byerley JS, Liles EA, Perrin EM, Katznelson J, Rice HE. Does this child have appendicitis? JAMA. 2007;25:438-451.

Millham FH. Acute abdominal pain. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 10.

Squires RA., Postier RG., Acute abdomen In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 47.

Budhram GR, Bengiamin RN., Abdominal pain. In Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 27.


Review Date: 5/12/2014
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.