What Can Cause Left Side Abdominal Pain?
Left Side Abdominal Pain
Left sided abdominal pain is the pain which occurs on the left side of an imaginary line drawn on the central point of the body, below the sternum and passing via umbilicus and ending just above the pubic region. There are many organs and structures located on the left side of the abdomen and any disease or problem with them can result in left side abdominal pain.
Structures or Organs in Left Side of Abdomen
The source of the pain on the left side of the abdomen can also be from organs and structures which are present on the left side of the abdomen.
Females have more organs in the abdomen than males, such as womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes etc. This makes them more likely to suffer from left side abdominal pain than compared to men.
Given below are the structures and organs which are located on the left side of the abdomen and any problem with them can result in left sided abdominal pain:
- The Skin Covering the Left Abdomen.
- Muscles Present in the Left Abdominal Area.
- Bones and Cartilages Present in the Upper Abdomen (Costochondritis).
- Blood Vessels Present in the Left Abdomen e.g. Aorta.
- Lower Region of the Left Lung.
- Left Kidney (kidney stone, tumor, infection).
- Left Adrenal Gland.
- Left Side of the Liver.
- Pancreas (body and tail end).
- Left Ureter.
- Left Side of the Large Intestine.
- Sigmoid Colon.
- Left Side of the Uterus.
- Left Ovary.
- Left Fallopian Tube.
Other than this, there are structures which are present outside the abdomen and can still result in left sided abdominal pain. These structures are: Heart, lower region of the left lung and the left side of the diaphragm.
What Can Cause Left Side Abdominal Pain?
9 Most Common Causes of Left Side Abdominal Pain Are:
Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Hunger Pains:
Children are more frequently affected by hunger pains which can cause left sided abdominal pain.
Symptoms: Hunger pains are dull in nature and are present as a discomfort in the abdomen.
Treatment: Eating immediately usually resolves the hunger pains causing left side abdominal pain.
Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Constipation:
Constipation is also termed as dyschezia. Patient has difficulty passing or having bowel movements resulting in abdominal pain. Patient suffering from constipation also feels pain on the left side of abdomen when defecating.
Symptoms: Painful and infrequent bowel movements. Patient may also experience some abdominal pain and swelling. Vomiting may also occur.
Investigations: Barium studies, blood tests and colonoscopy.
Treatment for Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Constipation: Increased fluid intake and increased fiber intake. Other options include enemas or laxatives.
Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Trapped Wind:
Symptoms: Crampy left sided abdominal pain.
Treatment: Drugs like buscopan or mebeverine are helpful in treating trapped wind causing left side abdominal pain. Antibiotics are given if diarrhea accompanies the pain, as this indicates infection.
Kidney Stones as a Cause for Left Side Abdominal Pain:
Kidney Stone is also known as renal calculus, it causes severe abdominal pain which resembles the pain from biliary colic.
Symptoms: Severe, abrupt pain in the left loin which radiates to the kidney and ureter. Most common cause of such pain is kidney or ureter stone. Pain is crampy in nature. Nausea and vomiting may occur.
Treatment: Treatment for kidney stone causing left side abdominal pain depends on the size of kidney stone. If it is small, then it usually passes out and no additional treatment is needed. If the stone is large in size (< 7mm), then surgery is done such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy.
Left Side Abdominal Pain Cause Due to Ectopic Pregnancy:
When a fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus, it results in an ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms: Pain which is dull in nature initially, then progresses to spasmodic pain. It occurs on one side of the abdomen, either left or right side of the abdomen where the pregnancy has occurred. There is abnormal bleeding such as brown spotting preceding the pain. In case of rupture of the fallopian tube, patient may have nausea, vomiting, dizziness, acute abdominal pain, rectal pressure, heavy bleeding and shock.
Investigations: An ultrasound confirms an ectopic pregnancy.
Treatment: Drugs such as methotrexate/ misoprostol are given; however, surgery is required in most cases to treat ectopic pregnancy causing left side abdominal pain.
The normal uterine tissue, i.e. endometrium, growing outside the uterus is termed as endometriosis. Left side abdominal pain caused due to endometriosis is a common among many people.
Symptoms: Pelvic pain which can be crampy in nature with menstrual period, heavy bleeding. Pain also occurs with intercourse and bowel movements. Patient also may have infertility.
Investigations: Pelvic exam, ultrasound and laparoscopy.
Treatment for Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Endometriosis: Pain medications, hormonal therapy and surgery.
Diverticulitis as a Cause for Left Side Abdominal Pain:
Inflammation of one or more diverticulum is termed as diverticulitis.
Symptoms: Sudden, acute left sided abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding and bloating.
Investigations: Physical exam, CT scan, X-rays.
Treatment for Left Side Abdominal Pain: Rest, light liquid diet, antibiotics. Surgery is done for recurrent diverticulitis, abscess, fistula and perforation.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA):
Enlarged or dilated area in the lower region of the aorta is termed as abdominal aortic aneurysm and can cause severe pain on the left side of abdomen.
Symptoms: Constant pain in the abdomen, throbbing is felt near the umbilicus, pain in the back.
Investigations: Abdominal ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan and MRI.
Treatment: Surgery is required for large aneurysms.
Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Ovarian Cyst:
Fluid filled pockets or sacs present on the surface or inside the ovary are termed as ovarian cysts which can cause left side abdominal pain.
Symptoms: Irregular periods, pain in the pelvis, heaviness felt in the abdomen, pain during intercourse and bowel movements, nausea, vomiting.
Investigations: Pelvic ultrasound, laparoscopy, CA 125 blood test and pregnancy test.
Treatment for Left Side Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Ovarian Cyst: OCPs are given. Surgery is done if the cyst is large.
Other Causes For Left Side Abdominal Pain Include:
- Pulled abdominal muscles can cause left side abdominal pain
- Kidney/bladder infection
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Gastritis and heartburn can cause pain on the left side of the abdomen
- Food intolerance
- Ulcerative colitis can also cause left side abdominal pain
- Scarlet fever or infectious mononucleosis
- Celiac disease
- Left testicular torsion
- Bowel/intestinal obstruction
- Obstructed hernia (inguinal hernia or femoral hernia).
- Pneumonia in the left lower lobe.
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Stomach Cancer
- Hereditary angioedema
- Sickle cell disease
- Intestinal polyps
- POEMS syndrome
As you can see, there are various causes for left side abdominal pain. Treatment depends on what is causing the pain on the left side of abdomen. If you have severe, persistent pain in the abdomen, then you should visit the ER immediately, as ignoring it could prove to be life threatening.
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