Abdominal pain can be caused by a multitude of conditions ranging from viral or bacterial infections to inflammation, constipation, bowel blockage, and even life-threatening emergent conditions like acute appendicitis, kidney stones, gallstones, ischemic disease, or even aortic aneurysm.
Inflammation or disease of any organ found in the abdominal cavity or surrounding cavities can cause pain or discomfort.
Sometimes pain can be referred from organs not present in the abdominal cavity. For example, atypical chest pain from a heart attack can present as an upset stomach or indigestion.
Pain may be described as gas, bloating, indigestion, cramping, aching, gnawing, dull, sharp, stabbing, tearing, burning, intermittent, or constant. The only way to know for sure what is causing your abdominal pain is to have a comprehensive evaluation by a trained medical professional.
Organs found in the abdominal cavity include the lower part of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, appendix, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen. The kidneys and adrenal glands sit behind the abdominal cavity in the retroperitoneal space. The reproductive organs, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries (in women), and prostate gland (in men), the bladder, and pelvic (or sigmoid colon) and rectum sit in the pelvic cavity. Disease in any of these areas can cause abdominal discomfort, as can referred pain from the heart or lungs found in the thoracic cavity.
Common causes of abdominal pain include: gastroenteritis (commonly known as the stomach flu), irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, reflux, GERD, gastritis, esophagitis, vomiting, food intolerance or allergy, food poisoning, peptic ulcer disease, celiac disease, strained muscles, urinary tract infection or bladder infection, gallstones, kidney stones, menstrual cramps, other gynecological conditions, intestinal parasites, other infections of the colon, heart attack and sometimes even a lower lobe pneumonia.