Feeling pain in any part of the body is quite alarming. If there is a pain in the abdominal region, the first thing that comes to mind is a digestive problem. However, there are various possible reasons a person may experience lower left abdominal pain (LLQ pain). It can be a minor or major problem. Knowing these causes will certainly help ease your mind. You will also be able to determine when to seek medical attention.
A Simple Description about Left Lower Quadrant (LLQ) Pain
Abdominal pain, whether it’s dull or excruciating, is a clear sign that there is something wrong inside your body. Keep in mind that there are various organs located in the lower left corner of the abdominal region not only the digestive tract. Located in this region are organs such as the bladder, kidney, left ureter, left ovary, and the uterus. Thus, abdominal pain can also be due to problems within these organs. Other symptoms can also help identify the specific medical condition.
What are the Causes?
The following medical conditions may cause pain in the lower left side of the abdomen.
Constipation is a common condition wherein a person is unable to defecate regularly. Aside from dull abdominal pain in your left side, you will also feel bloated and a pressure in your rectum. Typically, you will find relief once you have a bowel movement.
An inflammation of the appendix is known as appendicitis. This is a serious medical condition because if the appendix ruptures, it can infect other organs. Thus, it is imperative to watch for other symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and swelling. The pain will start as dull. As the condition progress, the pain becomes more intense. It will also start in your navel and will move towards your lower abdominal region.
Diverticulitis is a common cause of severe abdominal pain for people ages 40 and above. It is an inflammation of the diverticula or bulging sacs in the intestinal (large) linings. Other symptoms may include abdominal tenderness, bloating, fever, reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting, and in some cases rectal bleeding.
- Intestinal Obstruction
When fluids and foods are unable to pass through the intestine, you may feel a cramp-like pain in the abdomen. Intestinal obstruction is caused by various factors such as a twisted colon, tumors, scar tissue and hernias. The pain is typically accompanied by diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, and nausea. As the condition progresses, there is a tendency that passing stools or gas may be difficult, which leads to abdominal swelling.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a life-long condition commonly observed in people who have a hypersensitive colon and allergies. In IBS, the cramp-like pain is accompanied by bloating and gas. You may also experience diarrhea and constipation, which will alternate with each other. Unfortunately, this condition is incurable, however, it is manageable.
- Celiac Disease
When the body is incapable of digesting gluten, it is known as celiac disease. This condition is a type of food intolerance. Digestive problems start to arise when gluten’s nutrients are not absorbed by the small intestines. If a person with celiac disease eats any food containing gluten, he may experience symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, and lower left abdominal pain.
- Crohn’s Disease
Being an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease causes a cramp-like abdominal pain due to an inflammation of the digestive tract’s lining. The inflammation can occur in any organ of the digestive system. Other symptoms may include the presence of blood in the stool, fever, fatigue, reduced appetite, and recurring diarrhea.
- Ulcerative Colitis
Another type of IBD is ulcerative colitis. It occurs when the colon or rectum’s innermost lining is swelling. The inflamed area may also develop some sores. The signs and symptoms of this condition are similar to Crohn’s disease. Irritation, irregular heartbeats, eye redness, and shortness of breath may also occur in severe cases.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria like Escherichia coli invade and proliferate in any organ of the renal system. Typically, a sharp pain is felt in the abdominal region. It is also accompanied by an urge to urinate frequently and pain during urination.
- Left Kidney Stones and Infection
Kidney stones are formed when the urine has high amounts crystal-forming compounds such as oxalate, uric acid, and calcium. These stones will move down to the bladder and into the ureter causing excruciating abdominal pain. Other symptoms include frequent urination, fever chills, nausea, vomiting, and a foul-smelling urine. The urine may also have a red, brown, or pink color.
When kidney stones block the ureter, a kidney infection may develop. The symptoms are the same as kidney stones. However, during an infection, you may experience fatigue and a gradual pain.
How to Treat and When to See a Doctor
Lower left abdominal pain can only be treated once the underlying cause is known. Once the medical condition is identified, appropriate treatment can be administered.
- Dietary Changes and Hydration
Most digestive problems are due to unhealthy eating habits. Dietary changes are given to individuals who are suffering from constipation, celiac disease, and IBS. For example, those who suffer from constant constipation should increase their fiber and fluid intake.
Eating the right kind of foods will not only help prevent the pain in the lower left abdomen. It can also help fight infection and boost your overall health.
Hydration will also help ease this kind of stomach pain, especially if the problem concerns the kidney. Drinking plenty of fluids or water can help in the elimination of kidney stones and harmful microorganisms.
For the pain caused by an infection, antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor. Analgesics or painkillers can also be taken to relieve the pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids may also be prescribed to reduce swelling. For constipation, laxatives can help you defecate.
Most of the medications necessary for the treatment of abdominal pain caused by serious medical conditions will be prescribed by your doctor.
For severe cases, surgery is a treatment option. Medical conditions such as diverticulitis, intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, and kidney stones may require surgery.
How will you know when to seek medical attention? This can be confusing since some serious medical conditions may present as a mild pain. You will need to see your doctor if there is a constant pain and the intensity worsens over time. If the pain keeps you awake at night or affecting your daily activities, you should also see your doctor. Aside from pain, loss of appetite vomiting, fever, irregular heartbeat, the presence of blood in urine or stool and difficulty in urinating or defecating are other serious concerns that need medical attention.