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Abdominal Pain - Unexplained


Pain and other abdominal symptoms can signal any number of problems. These range from indigestion to cancer.


Some of the more serious conditions associated with abdominal pain include:

  • Acute pancreatitis may cause general, constant and worsening pain in the upper abdomen. Sometimes the pain moves to the upper back. Other possible symptoms are weakness, shortness of breath and nausea.
  • Appendicitis starts as general abdominal pain that settles into the lower right side.
  • Biliary colic can cause a steady ache in the upper right abdomen. Sometimes the pain spreads to the upper back. Patients may also experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Crohn's disease can present symptoms similar to appendicitis. These include pain in the lower right side and bloody diarrhea.
  • Diverticulitis can cause moderate pain in the lower left side of the abdomen that grows worse over time.
  • Gallstones may produce severe, cramping pain in the lower right part of the abdomen. Pain may spread to the back.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes a burning sensation or discomfort after eating. This occurs especially when the patient is lying down or bending over. GERD may also produce pain in the chest that awakens the patient at night. Other symptoms can be very similar to those of a heart attack.
  • Hepatitis may cause pain in the upper right abdomen, nausea and vomiting.
  • Pancreatic cancer may produce the same symptoms as pancreatitis.


New technologies, such as video cameras that can be swallowed, are now available. These cameras can help diagnose gastrointestinal problems, including unexplained abdominal pain, bleeding with an unknown cause or anemia.

The tiny video camera is swallowed and then eliminated in about 24 hours. The camera sends data to receivers placed on the patient's body. A recorder worn on the patient's belt collects the data. Using special software, the doctor can process the data and produce a video with information from the digestive tract. The camera itself is disposable. Patients can continue normal daily activities while the camera is working.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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