Abdominal pain is usually lumped by most people into the common term “stomach ache.” Just as the organs in the abdomen may transmit pain to the chest, so also may chest-organs transmit pain to the abdominal area. As a result of pain in the abdomen, a person will have a look of pain on his face, walk slightly bent over and avoid motion when possible. Many people try to overcome abdominal pains by putting a finger down the throat to provoke vomiting; go repeatedly to the toilet and strain to empty the bowel; take enemas or purges; they will lie with the knees drawn up. Abdominal pains are described as colicky, sharp or knifing, continuous or steady.
The doctor inquires particularly about abdominal pains to find out when the pain began in relation to the taking of food. Then the doctor will try to locate the exact spot or the diffuse area where the pain appears.
One of the most important pains is that which follows the sudden rupture of any of the organs in the abdomen, like the gall bladder, the spleen, the liver, the uterus or the appendix. This is a sudden, sharp, terrifying pain, that seems to disappear soon; nevertheless it is a warning of extreme danger, and the doctor should be called immediately to make certain what is wrong. Pain associated with inflammation is made worse by pressure on the abdomen. “liens” is a name given by doctors to obstruction of the passage of material through the gastrointestinal tract. Such obstruction is a source of great danger to life itself. The blocking may come from many causes.
The doctor gets important clues from the location of the pain, its waxing and waning, its frequency or continuity, and the amount of distention associated with the trouble.