Causes of Abdominal Pain

Causes for abdominal pain include the following:

  • The gastrointestinal (GI) tract
    • Bowel obstruction (partial or complete blockage that prevents intestinal contents from passing properly; e.g., large colorectal polyp, hernia, tumor)
    • Colic (in infants)
    • Colon cancer
    • Constipation (decrease in the frequency of bowel movements or the passage of hard, dry stools)
    • Food allergy
    • Food poisoning
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
    • Heartburn, indigestion
    • Hiatal hernia (occurs when the lower part of the esophagus and a portion of the stomach slide up through the esophageal hiatus, which is an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes before it reaches the stomach)
    • Infection (e.g., viral, bacterial, parasitic)
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
    • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    • Malabsorption syndromes (e.g., lactose intolerance)
    • Stomach (gastric) cancer
    • Ulcers
  • The biliary system (gallbladder, bile ducts, liver)
    • Gallbladder disease (e.g., cholecystitis), gallstones
    • Liver disease
    • Pancreatitis
  • The urinary tract
    • Bladder cancer
    • Interstitial cystitis
    • Kidney cancer
    • Kidney infection (pyelonephritis)
    • Kidney stones
    • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • The reproductive tract
    • Endometriosis
    • Menstrual cramps
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Ovarian cysts
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
    • Uterine fibroids
  • The cardiovascular system
    • Aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection (medical emergency that often causes severe pain)
    • Heart attack

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2015