Pain in the Appendix

November 12, 2012

Pain in the Appendix

Appendix is a small, redundant organ located in the right lower abdomen, between the navel and the upper part of the pelvic bone. Inflammation of the organ can lead to appendix pain. The pain can be acute or chronic.

Causes

The exact location of the appendix differs from person to person, but the organ is usually located at or few inches around the McBurney’s point. Rarely, appendix is located on the opposite side of the abdomen. Appendix pain is similar to pain associated with other digestive disorders such as abdominal wall, shingles, constipation, Crohn’s disease, small intestine, hernia and, adhesions.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Sudden pain around the naval pain that may eventually shift to the lower right side of the abdomen. The area of appendix pain is tender to touch, while abdominal wall above it is rigid. If you press the left side of the abdomen and quickly release your hand, you will experience pain above the appendix. The tender rebounds. This is known as Rovsing sign.

  • The appendix pain will worsen with cough or certain physical activity. You can get some temporary relief by lying on your back and bending your legs.

  • If the appendix is long or located on the right side, you may experience pain in the lower left abdomen.

  • Appendix pain is also associated with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.

  • Frequent urination and low grade fever may also occur in some cases.

  • High fever and rapid breathing may indicate rupture of the appendix, which may require immediate treatment.

  • Symptoms of chronic appendicitis develop slowly, but are similar to acute appendicitis.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of appendicitis is not easy. Most patients and doctors cannot differentiate between appendix pain and other digestive tract problem with simple physical examination. A CT scan or ultrasound of the abdomen may give some clues. Blood tests may reveal elevated levels of white blood cells and C-reactive proteins. However, none of these tests provide a conclusive diagnosis.

Treatment of Appendix Pain

Both acute and chronic appendicitis and appendix rupture are treated by appendectomy, or the surgical removal of the appendix. Occasionally, when your doctor opens the abdomen to remove the appendix, he may realize that there is nothing wrong with it. Many doctors, however, choose to remove the appendix before looking for other causes for the abdominal pain.

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