What Causes Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain & How is it Treated?
Abdomen is a region extending from below ribs to the pelvis. Many organs such as liver, stomach, pancreas, small and large intestines and reproductive organs are present in this region. The abdomen is divided into four parts as upper right region, upper left region, lower right region and lower left region. The organs present in the abdominal region perform various important bodily functions. The lower abdomen consists of the reproductive organs, excretory organs and the large intestines. Any problems in these organs can lead to pain and discomfort, which must be attended immediately as crampy lower abdominal pain can also indicate serious health problems.
What Does Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain Mean?
Abdominal pain means dull ache or crampy feeling in this region. Generally, pain occurring in the lower part of abdomen can be in the lower right or left side or both. The reasons can be varied and the other specific symptoms are based on the underlying medical conditions. Crampy lower abdominal pain can occur in both children and adults.
What Causes Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain?
There are many causes for crampy lower abdominal pain:
- Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain Caused Due to Gastroenteritis
- There is inflammation of the stomach lining and intestinal tract due to infections.
- There can be severe pain and cramps in lower abdomen due to food poisoning.
- Urinary System Disorders
- Reproductive System Problems in Women
- The pain in the pelvic region may occur due to problems with uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries or endometrium. Many women face the crampy lower abdominal pain during menstruation which can either be mild or severe.
- The pregnant woman may also experience mild pain in lower abdomen along with cramps. One needs to seek immediate medical help in case if bleeding is detected. Ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tubes can cause excruciating crampy pain in the lower abdomen. Conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and presence of ovarian cysts are also associated with pain in lower abdomen.
Other Causes of Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain Include:
- Nervousness, excitement and worry.
- Appendicitis is known to cause severe crampy lower abdominal pain.
- Irritable bowel syndrome is accompanied with crampy abdominal pain. Irritable bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, if not treated often leads to Colon cancer.
- Intake of certain medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause stomach upset and abdominal pain.
- A pulled muscle caused by an injury due to blow or while playing sports can also cause crampy lower abdominal pain.
Associated Symptoms with Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain
The crampy lower abdominal pain is usually of varying severity depending on the cause. The pain can be constant or it might occur with pauses in between. The crampy lower abdominal pain may be associated with other symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- A change in bowel habit.
- Pain and/or blood while passing out the feces.
Diagnosis of Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain
The doctor performs physical examination and then records the medical history. With so many organs present in the abdomen, it is difficult for the doctor to ascertain the exact cause of crampy lower abdominal pain. Hence, the doctor will ask a number of questions and will examine the patient carefully. In addition, some laboratory tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. The diagnostic tests may include the following:
- Blood tests to check for the presence of infection.
- Urinalysis to check the presence of blood or kidney stones. In case of women, pregnancy is also checked with the urine-pregnancy test kit.
- Abdominal X-ray.
- Abdominal ultrasound.
- Advanced imaging using MRI or CT scan of the abdomen.
- In rare cases, ECG is done to check the presence of heart attack.
- In case of women, the pelvic examination is done to check if the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and endometrium are normal in their structure and function.
How is Crampy Lower Abdominal Pain Treated?
In case of mild crampy lower abdominal pain, it usually gets relieved on its own and does not require any medications. In case of the mild pain, the following home-based remedies can be used to treat crampy lower abdominal pain:
- Take enough rest.
- Go for a leisure walk.
- Eat less spicy foods.
- Drink enough of fluids to replace the lost body fluids.
- Avoid drinking of alcohol, carbonated drinks and caffeine.
- Perform regular exercises and yoga.
- Take over-the-counter medications like laxatives or antacids.
- Take medicines to stop vomiting.
It is important to see if the symptoms of crampy lower abdominal pain persist or worsen even after home-based remedies. In very rare cases if tumors and stones are present, surgery is performed. Also some conditions such as ectopic pregnancy, abdominal aortic aneurysm are life threatening and should be treated immediately as medical emergency.
Crampy pain in the lower abdomen can occur due to variety of medical conditions. This pain can be sharp or dull. It is necessary to ascertain the exact cause of the pain, so that the right treatment is given to the patient. It is observed that the crampy lower abdominal pain does goes away with home-based remedies or with mild medications. However, when pain persists for a long time, one must seek immediate medical attention.