Abdominal Pain (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Abdominal pain facts
- What is abdominal pain?
- What causes abdominal pain?
- How is the cause of abdominal pain diagnosed?
- Characteristics, symptoms, and signs of the abdominal pain
- Associated signs and symptoms of abdominal pain
- Physical examination
- Exams and tests
- Special problem in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) of diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain
- Why can diagnosis of the cause of abdominal pain be difficult?
- How can I help my doctor to determine the cause of my abdominal pain?
- Pictures of Abdominal Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of Appendicitis & Appendectomy - Slideshow
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Associated signs and symptoms of abdominal pain
- The presence of fever suggests inflammation.
- Diarrhea or rectal bleeding suggests an intestinal cause of the pain.
- The presence of fever and diarrhea suggest inflammation of the intestines that may be infectious or non-infectious (for example, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease).
Examining the patient will provide the doctor with additional clues to the cause of abdominal pain. The doctor will determine:
- The presence of sounds coming from the intestines that occur when there is obstruction of the intestines,
- The presence of signs of inflammation (by special maneuvers during the examination),
- The location of any tenderness
- The presence of a mass within the abdomen that suggests a tumor, enlarged organ, or abscess (a collection of infected pus)
- The presence of blood in the stool that may signify an intestinal problem such as an ulcer, colon cancer, colitis, or ischemia.
- Finding tenderness and signs of inflammation in the left lower abdomen often means that diverticulitis is present, while finding a tender (inflamed) mass in the same area may mean that the inflammation has progressed and that an abscess has formed.
- Finding tenderness and signs of inflammation in the right lower abdomen often means that appendicitis is present, while finding a tender mass in the same area may mean that appendiceal inflammation has progressed and that an abscess has formed.
- Inflammation in the right lower abdomen, with or without a mass, also may be found in Crohn's disease. (Crohn's disease most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine, usually located in the right lower abdomen.)
- A mass without signs of inflammation may mean that a cancer is present.
Next: Exams and tests
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