Stomach and Abdominal Pain
What is Stomach and Abdominal Pain?
- Abdominal pain is the pain felt in the area between the chest and pelvis. Pain can arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall, or originate from organs of the abdomen including the stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, gallbladder and small intestine.
- There are different types of abdominal pain: The pain that is felt in the center of the upper abdomen is called epigastric pain (some refer to this as “gastric”). The pain that is felt around the umbilicus is called paraumbilical pain. The pain that is felt in the center lower abdomen is called suprapubic pain.
- Sometimes people call it stomach pain. Strictly, the stomach is an organ in the abdomen and the disease of the stomach normally give rise to pain in the upper abdomen, which is an epigastric pain.
- Belly pain is another non-specific term that often used interchangeably with abdominal pain.
- Stomach pain is one of the common health complaints in Singapore. The abdomen is home to many vital organs, muscles, connective tissues and blood vessels that may be affected, hence there are many various contributing causes to abdominal pain. While most cases of abdominal pain are mild and can be easily treated, it can also be a sign of a serious illness.
- If you are reaching for antacids, painkillers or medication more often than not, and you are not getting better, it’s time to seek medical help and head to a stomach pain clinic. You may need additional investigation if it occurs more than once a week for six months or longer.
- Share with your abdominal pain doctor or see a specialist in gastroenterology regarding your symptoms. The abdominal pain doctor may begin with a history and physical examination to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment. He or she may carry out several tests at the stomach pain clinic to evaluate the underlying issue, and gastroscopy is often carried out for further evaluation.
In general, pain in the epigastric area points towards organs like the stomach, duodenum, pancreas, gallbladder and the liver. Diseases such as stomach ulcer, stomach cancer, duodenal ulcer, pancreatitis, pancreas cancer, cholecystitis or biliary colic would present as pain in this area.
Pain around the umbilicus points towards the small bowel, appendix and the right side of the colon. Early appendicitis would be felt in this area. Diseases of the small bowel like Crohn’s disease would also be felt here.
Pain in the lower abdomen would point towards diseases involving the colon, the female reproductive system, and the urinary bladder. Cancer of the colon, ulcerative colitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian mass would sometimes present as pain in this area.
Correct diagnosis of abdominal pain is important. Correct diagnosis leads to correct treatment and resolution of the symptoms.
The diagnosis of abdominal pain often requires careful and detailed history taking, paying attention to the site, duration, severity of the pain as well as the associated symptoms. Physical examination may sometimes be helpful. Specialists in gastroenterology can also conduct further investigations such as blood test, CT scan, gastroscopy and colonoscopy which may be necessary.
If you experience abdominal pain that could not be resolved with treatment with your family doctor, you probably would benefit from an expert evaluation from a specialist. You should not delay the evaluation for more than 2-3 weeks to ensure that there is no delay in diagnosis.