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Hardly any other symptom indicates such a variety of disorders and illnesses as the abdominal pain. Dietary errors, intolerance or allergies, intestinal infections, chronic inflammatory processes and functional weaknesses, but also malignant changes or injuries to organs cause acute and chronic painful conditions.
Abdominal pain on the left or right does not always have to originate directly in the organs of the abdominal cavity. Pain in neighboring organs, e.g. of the diaphragm, spine or urogenital tract sometimes radiate into the abdominal region. If children complain of abdominal pain, it can hide everything from the spoiled stomach to tooth growth to various fears.
Causes of acute abdominal pain
Causes of acute abdominal pain that need immediate treatment:
Sometimes it is crucial to distinguish temporary or harmless abdominal pain from the acute and immediate treatment-dependent condition, the acute abdomen, based on the overall symptoms, which requires (emergency) medical examination and, if necessary, immediate admission to the hospital. This condition can be based on various diseases in different parts of the body.
Causes of abdominal pain by location of pain
First indications of the disorder or illness that underlies the abdominal pain and has its origin in the digestive system are given by the precise description of the location of the pain, the quality of the pain and additional existing symptoms.
Unspecific abdominal pain
In most cases, non-specific abdominal pain is not life-threatening and is caused by a spoiled stomach, nutritional errors, a lack of digestive juices (dyspepsia) or an infectious inflammation of the intestine (enteritis). The latter is usually accompanied by diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Pain also occurs with constipation, which can often be improved by drinking enough and making small changes in eating habits.
Diffuse upper abdominal pain may indicate ulcer disease, reflux, or gastritis, especially if there is heartburn, bloated stomach, and other digestive problems. Food allergies and food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance and celiac disease, are also associated with latent nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms. Gastric carcinoma can also cause symptoms here, although it is usually is rather symptom-free.
If the upper abdominal pain is belt-shaped as attacks and radiates from the back, chronic pancreatitis may be present, while pancreatic cancer should be ruled out in the case of dull pain on the right side, which is associated with psychological symptoms.
If the liver is ill, this is often manifested by unspecific complaints, which may include fatigue and possibly depressive mood. Think congestion liver, fatty liver, hepatitis or liver cancer.
Gallstones can be accompanied by colic-like pain in the upper abdomen and, in addition, possibly by indigestion after fatty meals. After biliary colic inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) can occur, which is characterized by pressure and pain in the upper right abdomen. If there are yellow eyes and skin color (jaundice), dark urine and light stool, the bile ducts are likely to be blocked by stones (choledocholithiasis), which often causes the bile ducts to become inflamed (cholangitis). Finally, the upper abdominal pain can also be caused by an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) or colon cancer.
Pain in the middle abdomen
Some diseases that cause pain in the upper abdomen can of course also cause pain in the middle abdomen, e.g. Gastritis, gastric ulcer, gastric carcinoma and chronic pancreatitis. Diarrhea and vomiting are temporary with enteritis, if the diarrhea persists, there may be a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease).
Chronic appendicitis is - apart from abdominal pain - often inconspicuous, the abdominal wall remains soft and the typical pressure pain only occurs with deep feeling. The so-called irritable bowel (colon irritable), which can also cause constipation alternating with diarrhea and nervous complaints, can also be associated with middle abdominal pain. Other causes can be chronic circulatory disorders (e.g. in diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorders and in smokers), porphyria, hemochromatosis or lead poisoning.
Even during pregnancy, many women feel an uncomfortable pushing or pulling in the middle belly. However, this usually has the relatively "harmless" reason that the abdominal wall is increasingly stressed by the child, who is getting bigger and heavier, as a result of which the navel bulges forward. This is usually completely unproblematic, but it can become dangerous if a “bulge” forms on the belly button and other symptoms such as reddish-blue skin discoloration, stool irregularities, fever or nausea and vomiting occur. In this case, the belly button pain could indicate a pinched umbilical hernia, which under certain circumstances can even become a life-threatening emergency and must therefore be treated immediately by a doctor.
Pain in the lower abdomen
Lower abdominal pain often arises from inflammation in the urogenital tract, e.g. due to inflammation of the ovaries and fallopian tubes (adnexitis; salpingoophoritis) or - together with complaints of urination - indicate a bladder infection. But intestinal adhesions, diverticulitis and colorectal cancer also cause pain in the lower abdomen, as does, for example, pregnancy of the abdominal cavity or kidney inflammation, a pinched hernia or chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. If only the right lower abdomen is affected, this is often an indication of appendicitis or appendicitis. In this case, the symptoms often first appear in the area of the navel and only migrate into the right lower abdomen in the further course. Here the abdominal wall is remarkably tense, in addition to the pain, other symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting and constipation often occur.
Flank pain and lumbar pain
If there is pain on the sides of the body (from the navel area to the lumbar vertebrae), one also speaks of flank pain and / or lumbar pain. This pain is often due to kidney diseases and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from back pain. This type of pain is most common in kidney stones, kidney inflammation, kidney abscess, renal venous thrombosis, renal infarction and chronic kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis).
Abdominal pain and musculoskeletal system
Our spine plays a central role in all functional processes, including in the organ area. So it is understandable that there are close connections between abdominal pain and the musculoskeletal system around the spine and the spine itself (vertebrovisceral interaction).
There are nerves that supply not only an organ but also a joint, a skin area or muscles. Especially in the area of the thoracic spine, where important nerve connections are located under the so-called costal heads, these interrelations can occur. A tense muscle, an irritated skin area or a so-called joint block can cause organ complaints or abdominal pain and vice versa.
Abdominal pain and visceral osteopathy
In osteopathy, the sliding surfaces of the organs are seen as joints among themselves. This means that if there is a movement restriction, this can also impair the function.
A functional disorder of the abdominal organs with an excessive or reduced function (hyper or hypo function) can be the cause of abdominal pain and is accessible to visceral treatment with the help of osteopathy.
The causes of abdominal pain are very diverse. The naturopath Isolde Schilling provides information about the causes and experience therapeutic home remedies of naturopathy.
Due to the variety of causes, the treatment of abdominal pain always depends on the underlying illness or disorder and can therefore vary from case to case. Slight complaints, often caused by everyday nutritional errors such as too high-fat, low-fiber food is caused, e.g. usually go back pretty quickly when the diet is changed to a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat.
Likewise, stomach ache, which occurs as a result of a weak gastrointestinal infection, can often be alleviated by bed rest, herbal tea (e.g. fennel, chamomile, stomach tea), warmth and an appropriate diet. Here, for example, particularly well grated apple, banana porridge and carrot soup are suitable, since they contain so-called “pectins” that soak up bacteria and toxic intestinal products like a “sponge” and ensure that they are quickly excreted. In doing so, care should generally be taken to ensure an adequate supply of water in order to counteract the loss of fluid in the event of diarrhea. It should also be borne in mind that this also has a healing function in the case of an infection caused by pathogens, since watery stool transports the pathogens out of the body.
However, if the complaints become more severe, colicky or recurring, a doctor must be consulted in any case to clarify the cause and, if necessary, to initiate appropriate treatment measures. For some intestinal infections, for example, antibiotics are required, but if the stomach is too acidic, gastric protection drugs with active ingredients such as e.g. Pantoprazole and omeprazole (“proton pump inhibitors”) are used to suppress the release of acid from the glandular cells of the stomach wall.
In more serious cases, such as surgery may also be necessary for an intestinal tumor. If there is suddenly severe pain in the abdominal region, which persists and intensifies rapidly, it is a so-called "acute stomach", which must be treated immediately in the hospital. Because in most cases this indicates a life-threatening situation such as a pinched hernia, kidney failure or acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Immediate medical clarification is also urgently required if the abdominal pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as high fever, shortness of breath, gas, weight loss, diarrhea or nausea and vomiting. There are also a number of other warning signs that must be taken seriously in connection with complaints in the abdominal region and must be examined by a doctor or emergency doctor. These include blood in the stool, sudden bleeding from the vagina or urethra, pallor of the face and black stool. Here the further treatment in the next step also takes place depending on the underlying disease.
Home remedies for abdominal pain
If the complaints can be traced back to a relatively harmless cause such as a "spoiled" stomach or a mild gastrointestinal infection, various home remedies are available for relief. After a fatty meal, for example, artichokes in the form of juice or tablets can help preventively, as well as tea with fennel, anise and caraway in most cases has a soothing and calming effect if there is a bloated stomach or a strong feeling of fullness. A teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass of lukewarm water is also suitable for mild stomach ache and nausea, since this binds excess stomach acid.
Another proven home remedy for stomach pain is the so-called "psyllium", of which either the whole seeds or only the husks are processed. These are the seeds of various plantain plants (botanical: Plantaginaceae), which are native to India, Pakistan and Central and Southern Europe, among others. It is characteristic that the psyllium contains a lot of fiber and can bind a lot of liquid, which means that it is used both as a home remedy for constipation and in case of diarrhea.
In addition, the "panacea" chamomile can be very effective because it relieves cramps and at the same time inhibits possible inflammation. One popular example is the preparation of a tea for which ten chamomile flowers are brewed with a liter of boiling water and left to stand for five to seven minutes. Naturally, naturopaths and naturopathic physicians also recommend a so-called “roll cure”. This involves first drinking a large cup of chamomile tea, then the patient lies on the back, right side, stomach and left side for about five minutes each. In the end, you turn back on your back, which means that the valuable ingredients of the chamomile can get anywhere and act on the entire stomach lining. The cure should be carried out for at least a week and preferably in the morning on an empty stomach, if necessary up to three times a day. However, after one session, it is advisable to rest for at least 30 minutes, and care should always be taken to keep the stomach warm during use.
With mild complaints, warmth can generally be very pain-relieving and beneficial, for example by placing a warmed cherry stone pillow or a hot water bottle on your stomach. If this is not enough, a warm stomach wrap can be tried to relieve gas, stomach or period pain. This is applied from the costal arch to the hip, the area being completely wrapped up like a calf wrap. To prepare, it is advisable to lay out a waterproof underlay for protection on the bed at the level of the abdomen, followed by a woolen cloth and a slightly larger, thicker intermediate cloth (e.g. made of molton). Now an inner cloth made of linen or cotton is immersed in warm water and wrung out, whereby it should reach a temperature of 35 ° to 40 ° C. The damp inner towel is placed on the intermediate towel, then the patient is placed so that the center of the body rests on the towels. The moist inner wrap should now be placed tightly around the body and then wrapped one after the other with the intermediate cloth and the wool cloth and the “wound” should be covered well at the end. After about 30 minutes, the wipes are removed, and the patient should rest for half an hour to two hours so that the abdominal wrap can continue to work.
If the pain is associated with harmless reflux, naturopathic home remedies for heartburn can also help to relieve the symptoms. Nutrition plays a central role here, because there are a number of foods and luxury foods that can boost the production of stomach acid in many people and thereby trigger heartburn. These include tobacco smoke, alcohol and coffee, as well as fatty sausages, hot spices (chilli, pepper, mustard etc.) or certain white flour products and sweets. In addition to that, raw food in any form can promote heartburn, but cooked vegetables are usually well tolerated. In addition to changing the diet, chamomile (as a tea, roll cure, etc.) is often a very effective remedy for an excess of gastric acid, and the symptoms can also be alleviated in many sufferers, for example by oatmeal or soaked linseed.
Since stomach problems do not always have an organic cause, it is also important to consider the psyche as the reason for the symptoms. Because it often happens that, for example, conflicts or the loss of a loved one are "not digestible" or that stress and tension literally "hit us on the stomach". In these cases, mental stress is shown in the form of abdominal problems and digestive problems by "depressing" us or by "eating" it into us. If the symptoms are severe and / or occur regularly, a doctor should always be consulted in order to fully clarify the cause and rule out organic problems. On the other hand, if the complaints are not so strong and only irregular or present in certain situations (such as stress at work, in conflict situations at home, etc.), relaxation techniques can be an effective help in many cases. Depending on your personal taste and needs, there are various options for reducing stress, such as autogenic training, meditation, yoga exercises or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson. Martial arts such as Tai Chi or Qigong are also becoming increasingly popular, as these too can gradually lead to more relaxation and inner balance and thus to more health, vitality and joie de vivre.
Naturopathy for abdominal pain
In addition, from the field of naturopathy, homeopathy offers various remedies that can be used effectively for pain in the abdominal area. Are the symptoms stress-related or occur e.g. after luscious, high-fat (meat) meals, drinking alcohol or too much coffee and nicotine, Nux vomica (nausea) has proven particularly useful. In addition to this, antimonium crudum (black spiked shine) is recommended in many cases for pain after excessive eating and drinking, especially if vomiting, diarrhea with undigested food or whitish tongue coating occur in parallel. Carbo Vegetabilis can also be helpful for accompanying symptoms such as flatulence and / or belching, and asa foetida (Stinkasant) can also be used if the pain with a strong feeling of pressure, foul-smelling belching, a lump in the throat, bloated stomach and rather soft, strong smelling stool.
Bach flower therapy or Schuessler salts can provide good support for stomach problems. Depending on the cause and manifestation of the symptoms, the salts No. 3 (Ferrum phosphoricum), No. 10 (sodium sulfuricum) and No. 7 (Magnesium phosphoricum) can be used, although the latter can also help with menstrual abdominal pain or intestinal cramps . In addition, aromatherapy offers an effective holistic treatment approach to harmonize body, mind and soul and thereby alleviate the symptoms. Plants such as chamomile, lemon balm, sheep grave or muscatella sage are suitable here, which can be used, for example, in the form of a compress or as a massage oil. (jvs, nr)
Twisted testicle (testicular torsion)
Acute abdominal pain
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Social Science Nina Reese
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ICD codes for this disease: R10ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.