Abdominal Pain Treatment at AGMG
Learn about Abdominal Pain treatment from the doctors of Associated Gastroenterology
Abdominal pain is a very common symptom with a long list of potential causes. Some of these causes are more benign such as functional dyspepsia or irritable bowel syndrome. There can be serious causes of abdominal pain such as gallstones, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation of the pancreas, diverticulitis or even cancers. The doctors at AGMG will carefully listen to your history, perform a thorough physical examination and then decide the appropriate work up and treatment plan.
What is the appropriate work up for abdominal pain?
The most important part in determining the reason for abdominal pain is the history.
Important features of the history include:
- How long have you had the symptoms?
- Where is the pain located? Does it radiate or extend anywhere else?
- How would describe the pain? Sharp? Dull? Stabbing? Waves?
- Is it associated with any other symptom such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bloating?
- Does making it eat make it worse or better?
Your doctor will use this history and then decide if further work up such as labs, imaging with an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI or a procedure such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy are indicated.
What are some common causes of abdominal pain
There is an endless list of causes of abdominal pain from the common to rare, from benign to dangerous. It is important to seek medical attention for any pain that is concerning to you rather than self treating.
Some common causes of abdominal pain include:
- Ulcers (can occur in the stomach, small intestine or colon)
- Functional dyspepsia
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Diverticulitis (inflammation/infection of the colon)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Chronic constipation
When Should I Seek Treatment for Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain is a very common symptom but is very non-specific. Often times, it takes a thorough history, physical and testing to determine the exact reason for the pain. Reasons to visit AGMG for evaluation include:
- Severe symptoms that recur
- Very frequent symptoms
- Unintentional weight loss
- Vomiting blood or passing blood in the stool
- Nausea or Vomiting that persists
- Family history of GI conditions such as Cancer, Crohn’s, Colitis
Frequently Asked Questions
The two most common causes for ulcers in the stomach are from medicines or an infection. There are other causes of ulcers but these make up the majority of the cases.
There is a class of medicines called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that can cause an ulcer of the stomach, small intestine or colon. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (motrin, advil) and naproxen (aleve). These medicines can destroy the protecting lining of the stomach and result in an ulcer. Even small doses or short duration of these medicines can result in damage to the stomach. It is not uncommon to see a patient with an ulcer from ibuprofen after a dental procedure or a shoulder injury.
Helicobacter Pylori (h. pylori) is a common infection of the stomach. It is estimated the 50% of the world is infected. This bacteria can result in ulcers and is the most common risk factor for cancer of the stomach. If a patient is diagnosed with h. pylori, treatment is recommended to reduce the risk of ulcers and stomach cancer.
Functional dyspepsia is chronic abdominal symptoms such as bloating, fullness or pain after eating and nausea in the absence of a specific cause. These symptoms can often collectively be called indigestion. While we do not know exactly why patients have functional dyspepsia, we know it is very common. This can be very frustrating for patients when all testing is negative but symptoms which can be very uncomfortable persist. Potential reasons for functional dyspepsia include increased pain sensitivity and altered microbiome. Treatment is focused on dietary changes, medicines that affect pain sensitivity and reassurance.
Your doctor might recommend some type of test of to evaluate your abdominal pain. This could include some type of radiology test. Each test is designed to look at different body parts.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to look through part of interest – best to look at organs near the skin such as the gallbladder, liver, spleen or kidneys.
CT scan uses small doses of radiation to produce a complex image. This can be viewed a thin slices of the body. CT is best for solid organs such as the brain, liver and lungs. CT is not great for hollow organs such as the stomach or colon.
MRI uses magnetic fields to generate a very detailed image without radiation. MRI is often used to evaluate blood vessels or flow of fluids in the liver or pancreas.