Abdominal pain has many potential causes. The most common causes — such as gas pains, indigestion or a pulled muscle — usually aren't serious. Other conditions may require more-urgent medical attention.

While the location and pattern of abdominal pain can provide important clues, its time course is particularly useful when determining its cause.

Acute abdominal pain develops, and often resolves, over a few hours to a few days. Chronic abdominal pain may be intermittent, or episodic, meaning it may come and go. This type of pain may be present for weeks to months, or even years. Some conditions cause progressive pain, which steadily gets worse over time.

Acute

The various conditions that cause acute abdominal pain are usually accompanied by other symptoms and develop over hours to days. Causes can range from minor conditions that resolve without any treatment to serious medical emergencies, including:

  1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  2. Appendicitis
  3. Cholangitis (bile duct inflammation)
  4. Cholecystitis
  5. Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  6. Diabetic ketoacidosis
  7. Diverticulitis
  8. Duodenitis (inflammation in the first part of the small intestine)
  9. Ectopic pregnancy (in which the fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus, such as in a fallopian tube)
  10. Fecal impaction (hardened stool that can't be eliminated)
  11. Heart attack
  12. Injury
  13. Intestinal obstruction
  14. Intussusception (in children)
  15. Kidney infection (pyelonephritis)
  16. Kidney stones
  17. Liver abscess (pus-filled pocket in the liver)
  18. Mesenteric ischemia (decreased blood flow to the intestines)
  19. Mesenteric lymphadenitis (swollen lymph nodes in the folds of membrane that hold the abdominal organs in place)
  20. Mesenteric thrombosis (blood clot in a vein carrying blood away from your intestines)
  21. Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  22. Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart)
  23. Peritonitis (infection of the abdominal lining)
  24. Pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs)
  25. Pneumonia
  26. Pulmonary infarction (loss of blood flow to the lungs)
  27. Ruptured spleen
  28. Salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes)
  29. Sclerosing mesenteritis
  30. Shingles (herpes zoster infection)
  31. Spleen infection
  32. Splenic abscess (pus-filled pocket in the spleen)
  33. Torn colon
  34. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  35. Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) (stomach flu)

Chronic (intermittent, or episodic)

The specific cause of chronic abdominal pain is often difficult to determine. Symptoms may range from mild to severe, coming and going but not necessarily worsening over time. Conditions that may cause chronic abdominal pain include:

  1. Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart)
  2. Celiac disease
  3. Endometriosis
  4. Gallstones
  5. Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  6. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  7. Hiatal hernia
  8. Inguinal hernia
  9. Irritable bowel syndrome
  10. Mittelschmerz (ovulation pain)
  11. Functional dyspepsia
  12. Ovarian cysts
  13. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  14. Peptic ulcer
  15. Sickle cell anemia
  16. Strained or pulled abdominal muscle
  17. Ulcerative colitis

Progressive

Abdominal pain that steadily worsens over time, often accompanied by the development of other symptoms, is usually serious. Causes of progressive abdominal pain include:

  1. Cancer
  2. Crohn's disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease)
  3. Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  4. Gallbladder cancer
  5. Hepatitis
  6. Kidney cancer
  7. Lead poisoning
  8. Liver cancer
  9. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  10. Pancreatic cancer
  11. Stomach cancer
  12. Tubo-ovarian abscess (pus-filled pocket involving a fallopian tube and an ovary)
  13. Uremia (buildup of waste products in your blood)

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

April 25, 2019

See also

  1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  2. Acute liver failure
  3. Addison's disease
  4. Adrenal fatigue: What causes it?
  5. Alcoholic hepatitis
  6. Alpha-gal syndrome
  7. Anaphylaxis
  8. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  9. Aortic aneurysm
  10. Appendicitis
  11. Ascariasis
  12. AskMayoMom Pediatric Urology
  13. Barrett's esophagus
  14. Barrett's Study Results
  15. Behcet's disease
  16. Belching, intestinal gas, gas pains and bloating
  17. Bile reflux
  18. Bladder stones
  19. Blastocystis hominis
  20. Blighted ovum: What causes it?
  21. Botulism
  22. Dr. Wallace Video
  23. 4 Ways to Prevent Heart Attack
  24. Mayo Clinic - Holiday Heart Attack and Stroke Risk
  25. C. difficile infection
  26. Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
  27. Carcinoid tumors
  28. Cardiogenic shock
  29. Celiac disease
  30. Celiac disease: Can gluten be absorbed through the skin?
  31. Celiac disease diet: How do I get enough grains?
  32. Chagas disease
  33. Chlamydia trachomatis
  34. Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
  35. Cholecystitis
  36. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  37. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  38. Colon cancer
  39. Colon Cancer Family Registry
  40. Colon cancer screening: At what age can you stop?
  41. Colon cancer screening
  42. Colon polyps
  43. Constipation in children
  44. Crohn's Crisis
  45. Crohn's disease
  46. Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?
  47. Crohn's or Colitis
  48. Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  49. Dengue fever
  50. Diabetic ketoacidosis
  51. Diabetic neuropathy
  52. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  53. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  54. Diarrhea
  55. Diverticulitis
  56. E. coli
  57. Ectopic pregnancy
  58. Egg allergy
  59. Encopresis
  60. Enlarged liver
  61. Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  62. Eosinophilic esophagitis
  63. Epididymitis
  64. Esophagitis
  65. Feeling gassy and a little embarrassed?
  66. Fibromuscular dysplasia
  67. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  68. Food allergies: Labels
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  70. Can adults develop a food allergy?
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  72. Food poisoning
  73. Gallbladder cancer
  74. Gallbladder cleanse: A 'natural' remedy for gallstones?
  75. Gallstones
  76. Gas and gas pains
  77. Gastroenteritis: First aid
  78. GI Stents
  79. Giardia infection (giardiasis)
  80. Gonorrhea
  81. H. Pylori
  82. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
  83. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  84. Headaches in children
  85. Heart attack
  86. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
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  88. Heart Attack Timing
  89. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
  90. Henoch-Schonlein purpura
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  92. Hepatitis B
  93. Hives and angioedema
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  95. Hyperglycemia in diabetes
  96. IBD and colon cancer: How often do you need screening?
  97. Indigestion
  98. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  99. Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction
  100. Intestinal ischemia
  101. Intestinal obstruction
  102. Irritable bowel syndrome
  103. Ischemic colitis
  104. Kawasaki disease
  105. Kidney infection
  106. Lactose intolerance
  107. Preventing lead exposure
  108. Lead poisoning
  109. Liver cancer
  110. Infographic: Liver Cancer
  111. Liver cysts: A cause of abdominal pain?
  112. Liver disease
  113. Liver hemangioma
  114. Infographic: Liver Transplant Bile Duct Cancer
  115. Mayo Clinic Minute: Avoiding summer E. coli infection
  116. Mayo Clinic Minute: What you need to know about polyps in your colon
  117. Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness
  118. Mental health providers: Tips on finding one
  119. Mental illness
  120. Mesenteric lymphadenitis
  121. Mesothelioma
  122. Milk allergy
  123. Miscarriage
  124. Mittelschmerz
  125. Nervous stomach: Is there such a thing?
  126. Neuroblastoma
  127. New Test for Preeclampsia
  128. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  129. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  130. Norovirus infection
  131. NSAIDs: Do they increase my risk of heart attack and stroke?
  132. Living with an ostomy
  133. Ovarian cysts
  134. Ovarian cysts and infertility: A connection?
  135. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
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  137. Infographic: Pancreatic Cancer: Minimally Invasive Surgery
  138. Pancreatic Cancer Survivor
  139. Pancreatic cancer treatment: Why is it so challenging?
  140. Infographic: Pancreatic Cancers-Whipple
  141. Pancreatic cysts
  142. Pancreatitis
  143. Pelvic congestion syndrome
  144. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  145. Peritonitis
  146. Pheochromocytoma
  147. Pinworm infection
  148. Placental abruption
  149. Plague
  150. Porphyria
  151. Postpartum preeclampsia
  152. Preeclampsia
  153. Pregnancy loss
  154. Primary biliary cholangitis
  155. Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  156. Proctitis
  157. Pseudomembranous colitis
  158. Researchers Develop New Stents for Complex Aortic Aneurysms
  159. Rotavirus
  160. Ruptured spleen
  161. Salmonella infection
  162. Salt craving: A symptom of Addison's disease?
  163. Scrotal masses
  164. STD symptoms
  165. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  166. Shellfish allergy
  167. Shigella infection
  168. Silent heart attack
  169. Small vessel disease
  170. Spastic colon: What does it mean?
  171. STD testing
  172. Symptom Checker
  173. Tapeworm infection
  174. Testicular torsion
  175. Toxic hepatitis
  176. Traveler's diarrhea
  177. Trichinosis
  178. Triple X syndrome
  179. Typhoid fever
  180. Ulcerative colitis
  181. Ulcerative colitis flare-ups: 5 tips to manage them
  182. Vasculitis
  183. Vesicoureteral reflux
  184. Cryotherapy
  185. How irritable bowel syndrome affects you
  186. Radiofrequency ablation
  187. What is meant by the term "heart age"?
  188. What's causing my infant's diarrhea?
  189. Whipple's disease
  190. Wilms' tumor
  191. Yellow fever
  192. Fecal transplant treatment of C. difficile at Mayo Clinic
  193. Mayo Clinic study reporting increased incidence of C. difficile infection
  194. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome