Lower Abdominal Pain

Lower Abdominal Pain


Pain in the lower part of the abdomen is a common complaint. In most cases, it is related to the digestive system, but it may also be related to problems in the skin, urinary tract, or reproductive organs. The exact symptoms of lower abdominal pain vary depending upon the cause and can range from mild to severe. While many problems are not considered life-threatening, chronic or severe lower abdominal pain may be a sign of a major problem.


Causes

The most common causes of pain in the lower abdomen are related to the digestive tract. The potential causes are numerous and include chronic constipation, diverticulitis, food intolerances, appendicitis, infection of the gastrointestinal tract, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease. When left untreated, some of these conditions can lead to severe complications.


Digestive and Reproductive System Issues

Lower abdomen pain can also be caused by factors not related to the digestive tract. Possible causes include an abdominal hernia, cancer, shingles, or urinary tract infection. In women, pain in the lower abdomen may also be related to the reproductive organs. Endometriosis, menstrual cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease, and uterine fibroids can cause pain in the lower part of the abdomen.


Serious Conditions Related to Lower Abdominal Pain

In limited cases, the cause of lower abdominal pain may be life-threatening. Serious conditions include bowel obstruction, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian torsion, and ruptured appendix. Severe injuries to the abdomen or testicles can also cause severe lower abdominal pain that requires medical attention.


Diagnosing Lower Abdominal Pain

In addition to a physical examination, diagnostic testing is often necessary when doctors are trying to determine the source of lower abdominal pain. The exact tests used may vary depending upon the patient's exact symptoms. Commonly used tests include ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs. Patients may be referred to a specialist based upon the suspected cause. Gastroenterologists are often called upon to treat problems of the digestive tract while gynecologists may be needed to treat lower abdominal pain in women caused by the reproductive organs.


Treatment Options

The treatment options for lower abdominal pain vary depending upon the cause. Some can be treated with medication while others require surgery. Patients with digestive problems may need to make lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods to prevent painful symptoms or complications. Some problems cannot be cured. When left untreated, lower abdominal pain can lead to serious complications including the spread of infection or cancer, hemorrhage, intestinal rupture, or infertility. With treatment, many conditions can be managed without severe complications.

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