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What is it?
Abdominal (ab-dom-ih-null) pain is also called belly pain. You can have pain inside or outside your abdomen. Pain is your body's way of reacting to injury or illness. Everybody reacts to pain in different ways. What you think is painful may not be painful to someone else. But, pain is whatever you say it is!
- Many things can cause pain in your abdomen. The pain may be due to a serious problem or by something as simple as gas. It can be caused by nerves being stretched, or by appendicitis. A woman may have belly pain with her monthly period. Diarrhea or constipation may cause you to have pain in your belly.
- An injury or a stomach or bowel infection may cause belly pain. Things you eat or drink may cause your stomach to be upset and cause belly pain. Sometimes it is not known what is causing your pain.
What are the different types of pain?
Pain may be acute or chronic.
- Acute pain is short-lived and usually lasts less than 3 months. Caregivers help first work to remove the cause of the pain, such as fixing a broken arm. Acute pain can usually be controlled or stopped with pain medicine.
- Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 to 6 months. This kind of pain is often more complex. Caregivers may use medicines along with other treatments, like relaxation therapies to help your pain.
Signs and Symptoms:
The pain may be sharp, dull, aching, burning, or cramping. It may stay in the same place in your belly or spread to your back or chest. The pain may come and go or be present all the time. At first, the pain may not bother you. But it may get more painful. You may feel nauseated (upset stomach), vomit (throw up), have diarrhea, or a fever.
What is your abdominal pain like?
Caregivers want you to talk to them about your abdominal pain. This helps them learn what may be causing the pain and how best to treat it. Tell caregivers your answers to the following questions.
- Where does it hurt? Where does it not hurt? Does the pain move from one area to another?
- How would you rate the pain on a scale of 0 to 10? (0 is no pain, and 10 is the worst pain you ever had.)
- How does the pain feel? Try to choose words that tell caregivers what type of pain you have. Is the pain sharp, cramping, twisting, squeezing, or crushing? Or, is the pain stabbing, burning, dull, numb, or "pins-and-needles" feeling?
- When did the pain start? Did it begin quickly or slowly? Is the pain steady or does it come and go?
- How often does the pain bother you and how long does it last?
- Does the pain effect your daily life? Can you still work in spite of the pain?
- Does the pain wake you from sleep?
- Do certain things or activities cause the pain to start or get worse like coughing or touching the area?
- Does the pain come before, during, or after meals?
- Does anything lessen the pain like changing positions, resting, medicines, or changing what you eat?
Your caregiver will ask you questions and check your abdomen. Blood, urine, or BM tests may be done. You may have x-rays of your abdomen. You may need to go into the hospital for more tests and treatment. Pain medicine may be needed to help the pain in your belly. Sometimes surgery is needed to treat abdominal pain.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your abdominal pain, what is causing it, and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.