Top 5 causes of severe lower abdominal pain

Severe lower abdominal pain is a common form of abdominal pain affecting the lower portion of the abdomen. There are many causes of severe lower abdominal pain, some of which are serious. Here’s a list of the top five causes of severe lower abdominal pain. You should always speak to a healthcare professional if you are concerned about abdominal pain.Appendix location

1. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a medical condition where the appendix becomes inflamed. The appendix is a small ‘pouch’ in the large intestine. The appendix is prone to either becoming blocked or infected which leads to appendicitis. In severe cases the appendix can bust, leading to a severe abdominal infection (peritonitis).

Pain from appendicitis typically starts in the lower left abdominal region. The appendix is positioned in a location known as McBurney’s point, and this is where the pain typically starts. The pain however may then spread to the whole abdomen as the infection worsens.

2. Diverticulitis

The large intestine can develop small bulges known as diverticula. These diverticula can become infected leading to a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticula become more common with age, therefore diverticulitis commonly affects older people (however it can occur in young people too!). Mild diverticulitis can be treated with antibiotics however severe cases may require surgery.

3. Hernias

Inguinal hernia

A hernia occurs when an internal (“inside”) part of the body bulges out through a weakness in a muscular wall. Hernias commonly affect the abdomen and there are lots of different types depending on the location and abdominal structures affected.

  • Inguinal hernias: the bowel pokes through your lower abdomen into your groin.
  • Femoral hernias: part of the bowel pokes through into your groin
  • Incisional hernias: tissue/bowel pokes through a surgical wound
  • Umbilical hernias: part of the bowel pokes through your abdomen near the belly button (navel).

The pain will depend on the site and size of the hernia.

4. Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) commonly known as a ‘water infection’ can lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, especially if the infection is widespread.

5. Gynaecological / obstetric problems (women)

There are many gynaecological and obstetric conditions which can lead to severe lower abdominal pain. One of the most serious is a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which is a medical emergency. Other causes include menstruation / period pain.

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