Intestinal Pain

November 12, 2012

Intestinal Pain

Intestinal, or abdominal, pain is a sensation of discomfort and agony in the abdominal area that may originate from the walls of the abdominal cavity, or from the organs within the cavity including stomach, intestines, liver and gallbladder.

Types of Abdominal Pain

Intestinal pain can be divided into a variety of categories. The condition can be divided, based on its onset, into acute or sudden, and chronic or long standing. The pain can be clinically insignificant and minor, or major. The pain can also be categorized based on the organs involved into the following types:

  • Visceral pain causes dull pain and cramps, and is related to internal organs of the abdomen.

  • Parietal pain is a sharp and persistent pain that occurs due to the inflammation of the abdominal walls.

  • Problems within the blood vessels of the abdomen can also cause abdominal pain that can be sudden or gradual. The intensity of the pain may also vary. Rupture of the abdominal artery may cause referral pain in the genitals or the back as well.

It is important to remember that the severity of abdominal pain is related to the cause. Hence, you should talk to your doctor about your pain, especially if it is sharp, localized and sudden.


The most common causes of intestinal pain include:

  • Intestinal illness

  • Food poisoning

  • Gas

  • Upset stomach or heartburn

  • Sore abdominal muscles

  • Menstrual cramps


The intestinal wall pain may also occur as a result of certain infections or injury of the abdominal wall. Damage to the nerves in the abdominal region may also cause pain. Lung diseases such as pneumonia and pulmonary embolism as well as myocardial infarction or heart attack may also radiate the pain to the abdominal wall. Inflammation of the abdominal lining or the organs such as liver, stomach, kidneys and intestine, and dysfunction of abdominal valves, sphincters, ducts and other organs may also cause intestinal pain. Cancers of liver, stomach, pancreas, gall bladder and white blood cells may also manifest in form of abdominal pain. Kidney stones and ectopic pregnancies are some of the other underlying factors that can cause this pain.

Area of Pain

The specific area of the intestinal pain may also help indicate underlying cause of the condition. Abdominal pain that is concentrated within the naval or the belly button area may indicate inflammation of the intestines or the appendix. Stomach, pancreas, gallbladder and duodenum disorders may manifest in form of a pain in the upper middle abdominal area. Pain in the upper left abdominal area may indicate problems with stomach, colon, spleen or pancreas. Inflammation of the gallbladder can cause intense pain in the upper right abdomen. Pain below the naval area may indicate colon disorders. It may also indicate urinary tract infections or pelvic inflammatory disorder in women. Infections of colon also manifest in form of lower abdominal pain.


Most mild and acute abdominal pains resolve themselves within a few hours. You should, however, talk to a doctor if your pain is accompanied by fever, diarrhea, constipation, bloody stools, nausea, vomiting blood, swelling or tenderness of abdomen, and jaundice.

You doctor may prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications as well as low doses of certain antidepressants to treat the condition. A hot bath and gentle tummy rub may help control the pain. You can drink milk or take over-the-counter antacids to treat certain cases of upset stomach. Analgesics such as ibuprofen can help relieve menstrual cramps.

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