Pressure pain – what can it be?

Pressure pain - what can it be

Pressure pain is one of the most common types of pain. Pressure pain in the chest or abdomen can be caused by many things, from a life-threatening illness to a harmless bruise. Depending on where the pain is located in the stomach or the chest, conclusions can be drawn about the underlying disease.

How does pressure pain feel?

Pressure pain means pressing pain and pain that can be triggered by pressure, such as pressing the abdominal wall with your hand. 


Life-threatening pressure pain in the chest

In the worst case, sudden chest pain is a symptom of a heart attack, which is why the emergency services must be called immediately.

 Pain radiating to the left or right shoulder, jaw, back or upper abdomen is typical of a heart attack . They are often felt to be tight, like a tightness behind the breastbone, or like a weight on the chest.

Another life-threatening, although rare, cause is a rupture in the main artery (“aorta”). The pain is described as “devastating” and often radiates between the shoulder blades.

The pain travels from the chest or back to the abdomen if the tear extends into the abdominal aorta.

The thoracic spine is a source of pain.

However, not every pressure pain in the chest is a life-threatening clinical picture. Very often, diseases of the thoracic spine, such as muscle tension and signs of wear and tear, are the trigger.

If the chest pain gradually worsens with movement, there could be an orthopaedic problem.


breast pain in a woman

Especially in connection with menstruation, many women suffer from breast pain in the sense of feelings of tension and heaviness in the period before the period.

Predominantly breastfeeding women can also suffer from a painful inflammation of the breast (“mastitis”): the breasts are swollen and red, the nipples are very sensitive to touch, and fever and general weakness are also present.

chest pain in man

Bacterial inflammation of the nipples, which sometimes develops into larger lumps (“abscesses”), can also affect men.

In the case of prolonged pain in the breast tissue and possibly visible changes in the nipple, breast cancer must also be considered – in women and men.

Pressure pain in the upper abdomen

The stomach is in the upper abdomen. Pressure pains that occur in connection with eating and are often accompanied by nauseaflatulence or vomiting are often caused by inflammation of the gastric mucosa (“gastritis”) or a stomach ulcer (“stomach ulcer”).

If the pain improves after eating, it is typically a duodenal ulcer (“duodenal ulcer”).


Acid eructation after eating

Also standard is oppressive upper abdominal pain in connection with heartburn (“reflux”), i.e. belching of stomach acid. The symptoms occur mainly after eating and are worse when lying down, as the stomach acid runs back into the oesophagus.

Belt-shaped upper abdominal pain

The pancreas is in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach and small intestine. This can become inflamed, which then causes severe, belt-shaped pain that radiates to the back.

Inflammation of the pancreas can be triggered, among other things, by excessive consumption of alcohol or a blockage of the duct by a gallstone.

Pain in the upper right abdomen through the gallbladder

The gallbladder is in the right upper abdomen, below the costal arch. Cramping pain in the upper right abdomen, typically radiating to the right shoulder and sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of fullness, may indicate biliary colic from gallstones. When palpating the abdomen, pressure pain can be triggered in the correct upper to middle abdomen.

Gallstones in the gallbladder also sometimes block the downstream bile ducts. If there is a problem with bile flow over a long period, yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes (“icterus”), discolouration of the stool or an intense yellowing of the urine can be observed.

If there is fever or chills in addition to the pressure pain in the upper right abdomen, there may be gallbladder inflammation (“cholecystitis”). This is often the result of gallstone disease.


Kidney pain in the right upper abdomen

Renal colic resembles biliary colic when a kidney stone blocks the ureter. The pain is more localized in the back and flank and occurs in waves. Tapping and pressure on the flank intensify the pain.

Similar pressure pain causes renal pelvis inflammation (“pyelonephritis”), primarily affecting women as part of an ascending infection after a bladder infection. The kidneys are very painful when percussed, exhaustion, and a general feeling of illness occur.

The third relevant organ in the upper right abdomen is the liver, which can cause sudden pressure pain in the event of inflammation (“hepatitis”).

Lateral tenderness

If the pressure pain is more lateral in the area of ​​the chest or upper abdomen, gets worse when breathing in deeply and is movement-dependent, it is probably an “intercostal neuralgia” ” a pain syndrome that occurs between the ribs on the chest wall.

Pain in the right lower abdomen

Children, in particular, are often affected by appendicitis. The appendix becomes inflamed and is at risk of bursting.

The pain, aggravated by touching the abdomen and pressing the abdominal wall, often begins in the navel region and then travels to the lower right abdomen. it is aggravated by movement and is accompanied by fever and loss of appetite.


Diseases typical of women in the lower right abdomen

In women or young girls with pressure pain in the lower right abdomen, a disease of the genitals must always be considered, for example:

  • inflammation of the fallopian tubes or ovaries
  • ovarian cysts
  • an extrauterine or regular pregnancy

Pain in left lower abdomen

Pressure pain in the left lower abdomen often indicates “sigma diverticulitis”. This disease of the large intestine is caused by bumps in the intestinal wall (“diverticles”), which can become inflamed and are most often located in the lower left abdomen (“sigma/colon sigmoideum”). The pain is accompanied by stool irregularities in the sense of changing diarrhoea, constipation, and flatulence.  

In the case of pressure pain in the lower left abdomen, the women mentioned above’s diseases caused by the left-sided genitals must also be considered.

Middle abdominal pain

Suppose pressure pain in the middle of the abdomen is accompanied by a general feeling of illness, body aches, fever and fatigue, and diarrhoea. In that case, it is probably a gastrointestinal infection  (“gastroenteritis”) often caused by viruses.

 Mesenteric ischemia, the acute blockage of a blood vessel supplying the intestine, is a life-threatening clinical picture that manifests itself in very sudden, severe pain in the middle abdomen, under the navel or other abdominal sections.

During the clinical examination by the doctor, intense pressure pain can be triggered, and often, a hard stomach can also be noticed. Typically, after some time, the pain subsides for a few hours, during which time the intestines begin to die off.

Another life-threatening abdominal disease is – as described above – a tear in the main artery, the aorta, which extends into the pelvis. Signs are sudden, severe abdominal and back pain and a hard abdomen when palpated.


Abdominal pain with constipation

A comparatively harmless cause of oppressive pain in the abdomen is constipation when there is no bowel movement for a long time. More dangerous than constipation is an intestinal obstruction (“ileus”), which leads to nausea, vomiting, and pressure pain in the abdomen.

Pressure pain in the abdomen from tumors

Rarely, pressure pain in the abdomen is caused by tumours in the organs mentioned. Typical are:

  • an accompanying weight loss
  • profuse night sweats and
  • fever flares

The pain rarely occurs suddenly but develops slowly.


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