What are the Common Causes of Abdominal and Pelvic Pain?
It is common for you to experience abdominal or pelvic discomfort at points throughout your lifetime. Usually, these are minor issues that the body handles itself. However, specific pains can indicate an underlying issue that may become a severe problem. Be sure to recognize the signs of serious medical issues to make sure they are appropriately addressed.
Types of Abdominal Pains
When you feel pain in your abdominal area, the effects can range from negligible to severe. It is best to classify the pain quickly to identify its cause.
- Localized Pain: Or pain that is centralized in one location. It can be felt in one part of your abdomen and may indicate issues with the corresponding organ. Your stomach, gallbladder, appendix, spleen, and intestines are usually the first organs to check.
- Generalized Pain: For a much larger section of your abdomen, generalized pain refers to issues with more than half of the bodily area. It is usually the result of gas, indigestion, or a stomach virus.
- Cramping: Not a normally serious issue. Cramping pain comes and goes with changing locations and intensities. It is usually just a result of gas, stool, or menstruation.
- Colicky Pain: Like cramping, but quicker and more severe. It is usually the result of gallstones or kidney stones.
If the intensity of the pain is severe enough to prevent movement or stop you from sitting comfortably, then call your doctor. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling abdominal pain and:
- Weight Loss
- Bloody Stool
- Constant Nausea or Vomiting
- Yellowish Skin
Potential Causes for Abdominal Pain
Typically, you will feel abdominal pain due to the following:
- Abnormal growths
- Acid reflux
- Menstrual Cramps
- Diseases and Disorders
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Spastic Colon
- Crohn’s Disease
- Lactose intolerance
- The Flu
- Stomach Flu
- Traumatic Injury
- Infection in Your
- Organ Rupture
- Kidney Stones
- Kidney Infection
- Intestinal Disorders
- Internal Obstruction
Potential Causes For Pelvic Pain
Pain in your pelvic area could be the result of several different issues:
- Menstrual Cramps: A common cause of pelvic pain that occurs, usually before a period begins. It is similar to a jabbing pain or muscle spasm and can be helped with the use of a heat pad or medication. If the pain intensifies, it may be indicative of a menstrual disorder, and your doctor can recommend an appropriate medication to help.
- STDs/STIs: Sexually transmitted diseases/ sexually transmitted infections can cause pelvic pain. Chlamydia and gonorrhea typically cause pelvic pain and several other issues.
- Interstitial Cystitis: A issue with no currently recorded cause that causes bladder inflammation. It causes painful and frequent urination as well as pain during sex.
- Ovulation: Painful ovulation, or mittelschmerz, may cause pain in the middle of a menstrual cycle. The discomfort can last hours and switch sides of the body. The pain will not last, and time is the only treatment.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: An infection of the womb that may spread to surrounding tissue.
- Urinary Tract Infections: An infection that affects the urinary system, including your urethra, bladder, kidneys, and ureters. Although, most infections mainly affect the bladder and urethra. Women are typically at higher risk of developing a UTI; if it is not handled, it can spread throughout the urinary system.
- Endometriosis: The result of uterine tissue growing outside the uterus. This causes chronic pain in females and may cause pregnancy issues.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A gut disorder responsible for diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and more. There is no treatment for IBS other than time and the treatment of symptoms through diet changes and stress management.
- Appendicitis: Inflammation in the appendix caused by an infection that causes symptoms like vomiting or fever.
- Pelvic Adhesions: An adhesion of scar tissue connecting two tissues that should not be connecting.
- Uterine Fibroids: Lumps of fibrous tissue and muscle in the uterus that affect a majority of women.
- Urinary Stones: Can form when you cannot empty your bladder completely
Abdominal and Pelvic Pain Diagnosis
Because ongoing pain in the lower abdominal-pelvic region can have a wide range of causes, an effective treatment plan identifies the underlying cause and responds to the severity and frequency of the pain.
For example, a woman who finds out that her pelvic pain is the result of a uterine fibroid may require surgery, while a man whose pelvic pain comes from a urinary infection may need an antibiotic. When you have your abdomen and pelvic area examined by a medical professional, they will typically ask:
- Where is the pain?
- How Intense is it?
- What kind of pain is it?
- How long does it last?
- When did the pain begin?
- How often does it occur?
- What actions make the pain better or worse?
- Does it radiate outwards?
- Do you have any recent injuries?
- Are you pregnant?
- What is your overall health history?
All of these questions are important and may help your physician diagnose and treat your problem. In some cases, you may need to undergo testing in order to find the cause of your pain. Typical tests check:
- Barium Enema
- Digestive Tract
How is Chronic Abdominal Or Pelvic Pain Treated?
Your abdominal and pelvic pain treatment will depend on the cause and severity. But you should always take the time to practice self-care and work towards making sure your body remains as healthy as it can be.
Short-term care of your abdomen and pelvis may clear up any issues before requiring more serious measures:
- Rest: Take some time to rest, relax and de-stress to ease the pressure off of your body. Yoga and meditation can often help with this.
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water or clear fluids.
- Eat Carefully: Avoid solid foods, alcohol, citrine fruits, dairy products, carbonated beverages, caffeine, fatty foods, and tomato products for a handful of hours. You should also stick to a fiber-rich diet balanced with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Eat Moderately: Your meals should be smaller to avoid issues with overeating or eating when your stomach is empty in order to prevent stomach pain.
- Exercise Regularly: Do not exercise while suffering from pain, but make sure your schedule includes exercise regularly to strengthen your abdominal area.
- Use Your Seatbelt Correctly: Protect your abdomen in case of a crash when you wear your seatbelt properly.
- Use Heat: A heating pad or warm compress over your affected pelvic area may alleviate pain.
- Stop Smoking: Tobacco products bring a host of health issues, including inflammation of the nerves.
What Can I Do About Abdominal Or Pelvic Pain That Persists?
If you have chronic pelvic pain that hasn’t improved with traditional treatment methods, you may be a candidate for interventional pain management techniques. The team of pelvic pain specialists at Garden State Pain & Orthopedics offers several effective treatment options, including:
Celiac Plexus Block
The celiac plexus is a group of nerves surrounding the main artery in the abdomen, known as the abdominal aorta. Celiac plexus blocks are injections that help alleviate chronic abdominal-pelvic pain. Although this procedure is proven effective, individual results vary. Many patients get long-term relief after just two treatments, while others require multiple injections to achieve the same type of relief. Your doctor will let you know how many injections you may need based on your condition.
Superior Hypogastric Block
This advanced, minimally-invasive treatment uses a nerve-blocking injection to target the superior hypogastric plexus, a complex web of neurons and fibers transmitting pain signals from the pelvic region to your brain. The procedure, which takes just minutes to perform and provides immediate pain relief, is useful for treating abdominal-pelvic pain with many causes, including IBS. It’s even an effective treatment for pudendal neuralgia — or chronic pelvic pain caused by nerve irritation — that hasn’t responded to conservative treatments.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Depending on the nature of your pelvic pain, spinal cord stimulation therapy may help. A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is surgically placed under your skin, sending a mild electric current to specific, targeted nerves in your spinal cord. The electrical current that the device sends to the affected nerves in your pelvic region interrupts the nerve signals to stop any pain successfully.