Abdominal pain is a fairly common symptom, and it’s often nothing to be concerned about. In some cases, however, this type of pain could be evidence of a condition that warrants medical evaluation and treatment.
In this blog, Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Anthony Borcich explains some of the common causes of abdominal pain and how to know whether you need to see a specialist about this type of pain.
What are the causes of abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, including the following:
- Pulled muscle
- Menstrual cramps
- Stomach virus or flu
- Food poisoning
- Food allergies
- Urinary tract infection
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Cystitis (bladder infection)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney stones
What are the symptoms associated with abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain can be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding
- Loss of appetite
- Chest or pelvic discomfort
When should I see a GI doctor?
Some stomach pain has an easily identifiable cause and will quickly resolve on its own. However, some serious illnesses can begin with mild symptoms that may not seem as if they need medical attention at first. A primary care physician can often treat temporary issues such as a stomach virus, but for more complex, chronic, or serious conditions, a specialist can provide more advanced treatment.
A gastroenterologist is sometimes called a GI doctor, and this type of specialist has advanced education and training to treat diseases of the digestive system. This includes the stomach as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver.
How is this type of pain treated?
A gastroenterologist will first determine the cause of your pain. This can be done by getting information about its location, frequency, intensity, duration, and whether or not anything makes it better or worse. In addition, your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination.
You may also undergo testing that will yield additional information, such as a lab test to examine your blood, urine, or stool. Testing such as an endoscopy (using a flexible tube with a light and camera to examine your digestive tract) or colonoscopy (which allows your doctor to look at the inner lining or your large intestine). Other imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, can also help your doctor make a diagnosis.
After the cause of your pain is determined, your doctor can devise a treatment plan. Conservative treatments such as medication and lifestyle modifications (such as a change in diet) are often the first courses of treatment, and if these aren’t successful, surgery may be an option in some cases.
If you’re experiencing severe, chronic, or unexplained abdominal pain, make an appointment today with Dr. Borcich. He specializes in diagnosing and treating issues that can cause stomach pain and offers compassionate, patient-centered care.