Lower Left Abdominal Pain: Common Causes and Treatments
Abdominal pain is a common and often benign symptom, but it can also be a sign of a serious medical condition. The lower left quadrant of the abdomen is one area where pain may occur, and there are several common causes of this type of pain. Here are some of the most common causes of lower left abdominal pain, along with information on their symptoms, treatment options, and possible complications:
Constipation occurs when a person has difficulty passing a stool or has fewer than normal bowel movements. When stool moves slowly through the rectum or cannot be eliminated, it can cause pain in the colon, which is located in the lower left abdomen. Common causes of constipation include dehydration, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise. Treatment options for constipation include increasing water and fiber intake, either through diet or supplements, and exercising regularly. The routine use of laxatives or enemas is not recommended, but soluble fiber supplements such as psyllium may be used to treat chronic constipation.
Kidney stones are caused by a buildup of calcium in the kidney, and they can cause pain in the lower left part of the abdomen. Symptoms of kidney stones include intermittent pain that radiates from the flank to the groin or inner thigh, and the pain is often described as one of the strongest known sensations. This pain, known as renal colic, may be accompanied by urinary urgency, restlessness, hematuria, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment options for kidney stones include intravenous administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opioids to manage pain, and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, a non-invasive technique for removing kidney stones.
Gas in the Intestines and Bloating
Gas in the intestines and bloating can cause pain in the lower part of the abdomen. This gas can be swallowed during eating or drinking, or it can be produced in the intestines during digestion. Foods that are known to produce gas include beans, lentils, dairy products, onions, garlic, spring onions, radishes, potatoes, and other vegetables and fruits. Preparations containing simethicone may help to reduce flatulence by promoting the coalescence of smaller gas bubbles into larger ones that are easier to pass. Probiotics, such as live yogurt, may also be helpful in reducing flatulence and restoring balance to the normal intestinal flora.
A hernia occurs when a bowel pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Treatment options for a hernia depend on the severity of the condition and may include surgery to prevent complications such as bowel obstruction or strangulation of the tissue.
Diverticulitis is an inflammation of abnormal pouches called diverticula that can develop in the wall of the large intestine. It is more common among elderly individuals. Symptoms of diverticulitis typically include sudden onset of lower abdominal pain, but the onset may also occur over a few days. There may also be nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Treatment options for diverticulitis include probiotics, a high fiber diet, and antibiotics in complicated cases. Surgery may be recommended for cases that involve abscess or fistula formation, intestinal rupture with peritonitis, or other complications.
Other less common causes of lower left abdominal pain include sigmoid colon volvulus, bowel obstruction, toxic megacolon, spleen infarction, complicated urinary tract infection, colitis, fecal impaction, and epiploic appendicitis.
What should I do if I experience lower left abdominal pain?
If you experience lower left abdominal pain that is severe or persistent, or if you have other symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and determine the cause of the pain and the appropriate treatment.
How is lower left abdominal pain diagnosed?
Lower left abdominal pain may be diagnosed through a physical examination, laboratory tests, imaging studies, or a combination of these methods. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical examination, and order tests such as blood tests, urine tests, or imaging studies such as ultrasound or CT scan.
Can lower left abdominal pain be prevented?
Some causes of lower left abdominal pain, such as constipation and kidney stones, may be preventable through lifestyle changes such as drinking enough water, eating a healthy diet high in fiber, and exercising regularly. It is also important to practice good hygiene to prevent infections and other illnesses that may cause abdominal pain.
What are the potential complications of lower left abdominal pain?
The potential complications of lower left abdominal pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Some possible complications may include bowel obstruction, kidney damage, or ruptured diverticula. In severe cases, untreated lower left abdominal pain can lead to serious complications such as sepsis or organ failure.