Abdominal pain can have many causes, ranging from mild issues that can resolve on their own over time, to more serious issues that require medical treatment. Some common causes of abdominal pain include:
Abdominal pain can also be caused by issues that are unrelated to the gastrointestinal system, including problems affecting the urogenital system.
With so many potential causes, abdominal pain requires a careful diagnosis to ensure the best, most appropriate, and most effective treatment is administered. Diagnosis begins with an in-depth medical history followed by a physical exam. Important factors in determining the cause of abdominal pain include the location of the pain, the nature of the pain (stabbing, cramping, dull, achey, etc.), the duration of the pain, and any notable events that preceded the pain onset (travel, antibiotic use, illness, surgery, etc.). This information is vital and will direct the course of further testing.
Laboratory testing, such as blood work and stool sampling can check for signs of inflammation, infection, bleeding, pancreas or liver malfunction, and blood tests for celiac, to name a few. If warranted, a colonoscopy might be preformed to visualize the lower GI tract and take biopsies in order to help rule out diverticulitis and IBD. Similarly, an endoscopy could be preformed if upper GI pain (especially epigastric pain) is present, to rule out peptic ulcer disease and GERD. Imaging, such as ultrasound or CT, can look for gallstones and tumors. Further testing may include breath testing and allergy testing.
Some abdominal pain is fleeting and related to issues like gas. But when pain is chronic, recurrent, or increasing in strength or duration, or when it's accompanied by fever, vomiting, bloody or black, tarry stools, or a tender abdomen it's important to call the office to schedule an evaluation. Pain that is very serve could be a sign of appendicitis or other serious medical issues requiring a trip to the emergency room.
Treatment varies widely depending on the cause of the abdominal pain. Some issues require dietary modification, such as celiac and food sensitivities. Some issues can be treated or maintained with medication. GERD is often treated with acid suppressing medication and SIBO and diverticulitis are often treated with round(s) of antibiotics but other issues may need surgical intervention to correct, such as hernias and appendicitis.
Here is a list of just some of the plans we accept, please contact our office if you have any questions.
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