Abdominal Colic Pain

Abdominal colic pain is manifested symptom when the muscles of the digestive organs contract in a spasmodic way. In many cases, if there is abdominal colic pain, there is also tension in the abdominal wall.

To transport food through the intestinal tract and perform digestion, the intestine is in continuous movement. The specialized medicine term for this phenomenon is intestinal peristalsis. In cases of digestive disorders, normal peristalsis may be affected and gastric pain (abdominal cramping) may occur. These can be due to multiple causes that range from the most harmless excitation through affections of diarrhea to serious intestinal diseases.

Colic is spoken when intensity of abdominal pains of the belly increase. Patients describe these abdominal colic pains “as if the walls of the belly were to explode.”

Depending on the cause, abdominal colic pain is accompanied by other symptoms. These can be as follows:

  • Sickness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Distension
  • Bleeding
  • Fever

If abdominal colic pain is very strong, it is important to clarify the causes with a specialist. The doctor will perform a full history and an in-depth physical examination. The causes of abdominal colic pain can range from transient gastric dysfunctions, food intolerances to cestode worms or chronic-inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. Many women and youth suffer from abdominal pain during menstruation in the lower abdomen (menstrual cramps).

It is very important to determine the causes and make a correct diagnosis because the treatment of abdominal colic pain depends on the condition that causes it. Therapeutic measures which are called “symptomatic” are often necessary. Although, they do not eliminate the causes, they help to relieve the pain.


Abdominal Colic Pain Causes

Abdominal colic pain can be due to many different causes. Many people sometimes suffer from abdominal cramping pain, but these pains are mostly harmless. Fear, excitement, poor diet (too much fat, too much coffee, fried foods) and transient gastric dysfunction can lead to abdominal cramping. A common cause of abdominal colic pain is irritated bowel syndrome. The reasons for abdominal cramping may also be diarrhea or prolonged constipation (clogging). Many women and youth suffer during menstruation of colic in the lower part of the belly (menstrual cramps).

In addition, there are other abdominal colic pain causes including gastrointestinal infections, Campylobacter or Salmonella infection, food poisoning (such as fish intoxication), cestode worms (such as tapeworm), food allergies and food intolerances (such as Lactose) can cause abdominal colic pain. Intestinal inflammations such as appendix inflammation (appendicitis), chronic-inflammatory diseases (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) as well as blood-flow dysfunctions can also cause abdominal colic pain.

The origin of abdominal colic pain is not always in the gut: This means there can be gastric conditions (such as inflammation of the gastric mucosa and gastric ulcers), kidney conditions (such as kidney stones) and gynecological causes (such as endometriosis) can trigger abdominal colic pain symptoms. Abdominal colic pain may also be a sign of a malignant disease (such as bowel cancer). To clarify the cause of abdominal colic pain, it is advisable to see the doctor.


Abdominal Colic Pain Diagnosis

Abdominal colic pain may be due to multiple reasons. That is why, it must be diagnosed what causes abdominal colic pain. First, it is important to get accurate information about patient history (anamnesis). For this reason, the doctor asks a series of questions, such as:

  • Where exactly is the spasmodic pain?
  • When did abdominal pains appear?
  • Are abdominal pains stronger after meals or appear after eating something?
  • What does stool look like?
  • Are there other conditions such as nausea, diarrhea or blood in the stool?
  • Are there other medical conditions?
  • For women: when did you have the last menstrual period?

The doctor will then perform an in-depth physical examination which he will touch, tap and listen to the patient’s stomach with the stethoscope. Especially if doctor suspects large bowel conditions as a cause of abdominal colic pain, doctor will touch the patient’s rectum with the finger (rectal examination).

Depending on the results of the previous tests and the cause of the abdominal colic pain, other measures can be used to make a correct diagnosis. Among others we find:

  • Ultrasound tests (sonography) of the belly
  • X-ray testing
  • Blood test
  • Urine and feces analysis

If it is still not possible to locate the cause of abdominal colic pain, the following tests may be helpful:

  • Tests of food intolerances (such as the lactose intolerance test)
  • Gastroscopy or colonoscopy
  • CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging
  • ERCP (visualization of the bile and pancreatic ducts)
  • Other specialized tests, such as those performed by the gynecologist or urologist

Abdominal Colic Pain Treatment

Abdominal colic pain does not usually require special treatment since they are usually harmless. With calmness and relaxation, a bag of hot water or an infusion of mint, cumin, chamomile, fennel or anise can help to releive the symptoms of abdominal colic pain. It is also important to follow a healthy diet without excesses and to ensure that bowel movements are regular.

The treatment of abdominal colic pain depends on the causes. Especially, if abdominal colic pain is very strong and continous, it must be discovered what causes the pain. If abdominal pain is due to gallstones or intestinal tumors, surgical intervention is usually the most appropriate treatment.

When the cause of colic abdominal pain is gas, the most important thing is to follow hygienic standards:

  • Avoid legumes, cabbage and carbonated drinks
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Chew food well
  • Eat slower
  • Relax while eating
  • Walk for 10 to 15 minutes after eating
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