Location, Location, Location: Where You Feel It Can Help You Deal with It

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When it comes to more severe abdominal pain, can the location help determine what the cause may be?

Location, Location, Location: Where You Feel It Can Help You Deal with It

It seems to be pretty common knowledge that pain in your left arm, shoulder and/or jaw are indicative of an impending heart attack. This is just one example of referred pain, where the location of the symptoms appear to directly indicate what the true problem is. Similarly, there are specific areas or quadrants of the abdomen that typically send up a red flag for the possibility of a particular ailment or condition.

Dividing the abdomen into sections, the following describes some locations and possible causes of abdominal pain:

  • Lower right quadrant pain may be caused by appendicitis (though the appendix is not always found in this location and not everyone even has one), diverticulitis (an inflammation of the outer lining of the large intestine or colon after it has become infected with craters of food stuck there), or gynecological problems.
  • Lower left quadrant pain often indicates diverticulitis or gynecological problems.
  • Upper right quadrant pain generally comes from gallbladder problems or gallstones, appendicitis, gastritis, GERD, pancreatitis, or an ulcer, among other things.
  • Upper abdomen and upper back pain can combine to indicate pancreatitis or acute inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Acute left upper abdominal pain can mean a blockage or disruption of the blood supply to the spleen. Your physician will examine each of these quadrants, palpating them to determine the exact location of your pain. Depending on the findings, additional testing such as a blood panel (CBC), enzyme panel, urinalysis, x-ray or abdominal ultrasound may be ordered to clarify the nature of the problem.

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