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Abdominal pain

 What is abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin.   Everybody feels abdominal pain sometime, and the majority of the time, it is not serious.  It is also important to understand that bad abdominal pain does not always reflect a serious condition.  For example, you might have very bad abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps from viral infections, whereas potentially significant conditions such as early appendicitis may only cause some mild symptoms.

There are numerous causes for abdominal pain, some of which are specifically related to the gastrointestinal tract and others which are not.  Causes of abdominal pain may include (but are not limited to):

To help diagnose the cause of your pain, you will be asked about specific details of your abdominal pain.  Some questions might include:

  • Location of the pain - is it generalized or in one spot?  Does it move?
  • Quality of the pain - severe, sharp, cramping?  
  • When does the pain occur - morning, night, after meals?
  • How often does the pain occur?
  • What makes the pain better?  Worse?

Depending on the findings, your gastroenterologist may order further diagnostic tests, start medications to treat a specific problem, or give you reassurance.

University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Division