While everyone experiences some type of abdominal pain at one point or another, persistent or recurrent abdominal pain could be a sign of an underlying problem. Knowing what’s causing your pain can sometimes be a challenge, however.
At the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, and our experienced care team understand how disconcerting undiagnosed abdominal pain can be. Our team is committed to helping you get an accurate diagnosis so you can begin effective treatment for benign or serious conditions that cause persistent abdominal pain.
If you’re experiencing abdominal pain, schedule a visit to the Rivas Digestive Center so we can uncover what’s causing your discomfort. In the meantime, here’s a closer look at five common causes of abdominal pain along with how we can help.
1. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Your stomach produces strong acid to break down the foods you ingest. When this acid moves the wrong way, from your stomach back into your esophagus (the tube that connects your stomach and mouth), you can develop GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). About 20% of Americans struggle with GERD, which can cause heartburn, stomach or chest pain, vomiting or regurgitation, trouble swallowing, and more.
2. Crohn’s disease
Caused by chronic inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, Crohn's disease can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. While there’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, it’s important to seek treatment if you suspect you may have the disease as it can lead to malnourishment, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk for bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infection.
3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder affecting about 10-15% of the population worldwide. The exact cause of this disorder is not yet known, though researchers believe it may stem from a problem in the way the brain, gut, and nervous system interact. Symptoms of IBS range from mild to severe and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Cramping and bloating
- Weight loss
Because these symptoms are shared with many other GI conditions, it’s important to have an evaluation with a trained physician like Dr. Rivas.
4. Ulcerative colitis
A chronic disease of your large intestine, ulcerative colitis affects the tissue of your colon and causes open sores, or ulcers, to develop. Researchers believe this painful condition results due to an overactive response from your immune system to a viral or bacterial infection. In addition to abdominal pain, ulcerative colitis can cause an urgent need to move your bowels, increased bowel movements (BMs), nocturnal BMs, mucous in the stool, and fatigue.
5. Gallbladder disease (cholecystitis)
Cholecystitis, or gallbladder disease, usually happens when gallstones block the small tube that leads out of your gallbladder. This triggers a buildup of bile that leads to inflammation and pain. As the disease progresses, it can cause problems with your bile ducts, tumors, and in some cases, rupture. Symptoms include pain in the upper right or center abdomen, nausea, vomiting, pain that spreads to your back or shoulder, and fever.
Other causes of abdominal pain
While the causes of abdominal pain listed above are among the most common reasons patients experience persistent pain in the abdomen, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. Many other causes of abdominal pain exist, from a pulled muscle to parasitic infection to a food allergy or even a reproductive health disorder like endometriosis. Others include:
- Celiac disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney stones or infection
- Urinary tract infections
- Ectopic pregnancy
Because these and many other possible underlying reasons can cause abdominal pain, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rivas as soon as possible so you can get an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosing and treating abdominal pain
Treatment for abdominal pain begins with an accurate diagnosis. At the Rivas Digestive Center, Dr. Rivas begins the diagnostic process by talking to you about your symptoms and reviewing your medical and family history.
He then conducts a physical exam to rule out different conditions. Based on his findings, Dr. Rivas typically orders different diagnostic tests to pinpoint the underlying cause of your condition, which may include:
- Blood tests
- Stool tests
- Abdominal ultrasound
- MRI or CT scan
- Liver tests or imaging
- Upper endoscopy
Once Dr. Rivas understands the root condition that’s causing your pain, he creates a customized treatment plan for you, beginning with the most conservative therapy possible.
Get to the bottom of your abdominal pain by contacting Dr. Rivas and the team at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida. You can schedule a consultation by calling 954-228-5882 or book an appointment online now.