Abdominal Pain – One Symptom and Many Diseases

Abdominal Pain - One Symptom and Many Diseases

No other symptom can point to such different diseases as abdominal pain. Whether gallbladder problems, stress, gastrointestinal infection, heart attack or kidney or spinal problems – abdominal pain is highly diverse and requires careful clarification. Everyone has had a stomach ache at some point and knows from their own experience that even stomach cramps can feel different every time. To find out the cause of the abdominal pain, one must know how abdominal pain arises and search for the exact location and type of pain.

How does abdominal pain come about?

Abdominal pain occurs when pain-conducting nerve pathways conduct stimuli to the brain. Depending on the type of irritated nerve tracts, a distinction is made between somatic and visceral pain. Somatic pain occurs when nerves supplying the abdominal wall, the outer peritoneum, or the area behind the abdominal viscera (the retroperitoneum) become irritated. This pain is more like

  • “hell”,
  • burning,
  • cutting,
  • evenly intense and
  • rentable.

Somatic pain often occurs with acute appendicitis or gallbladder inflammation (the inflammation irritates the outer peritoneum), kidney colic or spinal problems.


visceral pain

Visceral pain is compared to somatic pain

  • dull,
  • boring,
  • spasmodic,
  • rather diffuse,
  • cannot be assigned precisely to a specific place and
  • arises when nerves that run in the organ skin, the inner part of the peritoneum, are irritated.

Visceral pain is often associated with gastrointestinal infections, chronic inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas, and food intolerance, e.g., gluten, lactose or fructose. The type of pain means that the person affected behaves in a very typical way: In the case of bodily pain, they will want to lie down and bend their legs slightly, i.e. adopt a relieving posture, since every movement increases the pain. The abdominal wall is often tense, and touching the abdomen is painful.

With visceral pain, the behaviour is reversed – resting increases the pain, and walking around and massaging the abdomen relieves pain. Since the vegetative nervous system is activated in visceral pain, the pain is accompanied by vegetative symptoms, i.e. symptoms that cannot be influenced, such as nauseasweating, restlessness or vomiting.

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