Stomach Cramps

Stomach Cramps

Stomach cramps are a general type of abdominal pain. The term is very non-specific and can refer to most any kind of pain located within the region of the abdomen. Most every individual experience stomach cramps from time to time, and they are not a cause for major concern. In some cases, however, they may occur as the result of a more severe underlying condition affecting any of the organs or structures within the abdominal cavity. In rarer situations, stomach cramps may also develop as the result of problems related to organs that are located near, but not within, the abdominal cavity.


Symptoms

Stomach cramps may occur as sharp contractions or feelings of pain anywhere in the abdomen. Sometimes the cramps can be relatively mild, while in other cases, they may be severe. They are a common symptom of nearly countless diseases, disorders, and conditions that range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Some of the most common causes include gas, indigestion, bladder infection, gastroenteritis, and menstrual cramps. These conditions generally are not severe.


Cause

In some cases, however, stomach cramps may be caused by more serious conditions such as food poisoning or even cancer. When they occur on a regular basis or are severe, patients should seek prompt medical attention. Also, abdominal cramps accompanied by other troubling symptoms like vomiting blood, abdominal distention, fainting, or yellowing of the skin may be signs of life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical treatment.


Diagnosis

Doctors typically utilize numerous techniques when trying to determine the cause of stomach cramps. In mild cases, a diagnosis can be reached based upon the patient's medical history and a physical examination. When underlying conditions are suspected, diagnostic imaging tests are commonly used. Test like ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans allow doctors to see the internal organs and detect many problems. Endoscopic procedures may also be necessary to allow doctors to look inside the organs.


Treatment

Because the potential causes for stomach cramps are numerous, the treatments vary greatly. When an underlying condition is present, it must be treated. This may be done through medication or surgical intervention depending upon the exact situation. Stomach cramps can usually be managed regardless of the cause, but the underlying condition may or not be treatable. The prognosis varies greatly depending upon the nature of the underlying disorder. Most commonly the causes of stomach cramps are not life-threatening when patients seek prompt medical attention.


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