Abdominal pain, by and large, is a rather common condition, referring to the pain between the thorax and the pelvic regions. Different factors are considered to identify the actual reason for the pain. One of these factors is the location of the abdominal pain. The location of the abdominal pain determines the type of condition one has. This article aims to focus only on the lower abdomen pain, experienced by both men and women, in their lower left or lower right abdomens. Note that the causes of lower abdominal pain are quite broad, and making out the difference between life-threatening and non-life-threatening causes of lower abdomen pain can be a bit of a challenge. It is still advised that people going through unrelenting pain in their lower abdomen should seek out medical attention, as it may be an indicator of a disease that affects the organs in the abdomen.
What is Lower Abdomen Pain?
Lower abdominal pain, also referred to as pelvic pain, is the pain – cramp-like, sharp, or dull – below the belly button. Pain that is centred in the lower abdomen may not be dangerous to health, such as mere gas pain, or can be more grievous like s an infection. Pelvic pain happens mostly in the bladder and the reproductive organs. Women, in particular, experience lower abdomen pain due to menstruation. A rather complicated situation, the pain may be worsened or bettered by certain circumstances, such as worse after meals, relieved with a bowel movement, better after vomiting, or relieved when sat in a certain position.
4 Factors of Lower Abdomen Pain
Notably, the causes of lower abdomen pain have different factors: (1) gender; (2) exact location of pain; (3) type of pain; and (4) intensity of pain.
There are gender-specific causes as there are anatomical differences between the abdomens of males and females. We will especially tackle this later on in the article.
2. Exact Location of Pain
The lower abdomen pain has two different parts, the lower left part and the lower right part. The causes may be determined based on the exact location of the pain. This will be tackled further in the article as well.
3. Types of Pain
The type of pain may also give some hints as to the cause of lower abdominal pain. Although the pain may be diffused, there are some types of pain that can help narrow the diagnosis. Abdominal pain can be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp-like, knifelike, twisting, or piercing. Many other types of pain are also possible, like constant, intermittent, variable, modified by movement, eating, bowel movements, walking, or changed by other situations like stress or certain medications.
4. Intensity of Pain
The intensity of the pain is a factor to determine the cause as well, normally on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the most painful. Notably, the duration of the pain is also a determining factor. Lower abdominal pain can be quick, lasting for a few minutes, or it may persist for several hours and longer.
Causes Based on the Exact Location of Pain
Lower Left Abdomen Pain
- Gas: Gas is a minor cause of abdominal pain, but it is not anything to worry about and will pass through either the rectum or esophagus.
- Lactose intolerance: The difficulty of digesting milk and milk-based products, like cheese and yogurt, can also cause lower left abdominal pain.
- Indigestion: This is caused by a build-up of acid after eating. But rarely do indigestion occur in the lower part of the abdomen.
- Constipation: Irregular and infrequent or difficult evacuation of the bowels. Constipation is often caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.
- Diverticulitis: Inflammation of a diverticulum in the digestive tract (particularly the colon).
- Celiac disease: A persistent condition that comes about in the digestive tract when a person cannot digest gluten.
- Kidney stones: A calculus (hard lump produced by the concretion of mineral salts) formed in the kidney.
Lower Right Abdomen Pain
- Menstrual cramps: Described as dull and persistent, this is a common case. Women can experience abdominal pain before or during their period.
- Hernia: Occurs when part of an organ is displaced and bulges out through the wall of the cavity-holding it.
- Appendicitis: Inflammation of the vermiform appendix. This causes a brief pain to occur in the middle part of the abdomen, spreading to the lower right abdomen.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: A chronic condition of the digestive system. There is no cure available for IBS at the moment.
Gender-particular causes of lower abdominal pain
As mentioned, following the anatomical differences of men and women, there are female-only causes and male-only causes of the lower abdomen pain.
Causes among females include:
- Endometriosis: This is the presence of endometrium (mucous membrane that lines the uterus) elsewhere than in the lining of the uterus. A serious condition, this causes premenstrual pain and dysmenorrhea.
- Ovarian cyst: These are closed sacs that develop abnormally in the ovaries. Although harmless most of the time, the can bring about the dull or sharp pain within the abdomen.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: This is the inflammation of the female pelvic organs (in particular the Fallopian tubes) caused by infection by several microorganisms.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Pregnancy leading from gestation elsewhere than in the uterus. This can cause internal bleeding, infection. If left untreated, it can lead to death.
Causes among males include:
- Inguinal hernia: A type of hernia (rupture in smooth muscle tissue through which a bodily structure protrudes) in which a loop of intestine enters the inguinal canal.
- Testicular torsion: An emergency situation, this happens when a testicle rotates and the spermatic cord that brings blood to the scrotum has been crooked.