Abdominal pain is one of the most common presentations to general surgeons. It may be acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-standing). Treatment depends on the cause of the pain. However, sometimes despite extensive investigations, it is not possible to find a specific cause for the pain. Fortunately, most of these cases either settle on their own or are mild in nature. Severe, chronic abdominal pain of no clear cause is one of the most challenging conditions to investigate and treat.
What causes abdominal pain?
There are many causes of abdominal pain.
Abdominal pain can be classified by location (eg. upper / lower abdomen, left / right). It can also be classified by the organ causing the pain and the condition (eg. appendicitis).
The most common causes of abdominal pain are:
Other less common causes include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Vascular emergencies such as abdominal aortic aneurysms
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Nerve pain
- Malignancy (tumours)
- Other rare medical conditions such as vasculitis or autoimmune conditions.