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Stomach pain sitting down: Abdominal pain – Mayo Clinic

Stomach Hurts When Sitting | Doctor Explains Abdominal Pain

Many people have been affected by stomach pain at some point. If your pain is exacerbated by sitting, you may deal with something more serious. A hurt stomach can make life hard, and sometimes it’s impossible to figure out why!

The stomach is one of the most critical parts of your body. It’s where all that delicious food goes to be digested. But sometimes, people experience pain when they sit. This might mean a problem with your digestive system, like some kind of ulcer infection or colitis.

Unveiling a Hidden Culprit

Prepare to be amazed as I uncover the hidden cause of your stomach pain when sitting. Discover how poor seated ergonomics affect your belly. I’ll reveal the secrets behind this connection. Improper posture and slouching compress your stomach, disrupting digestion. Reduced blood flow hampers food breakdown, causing discomfort. Prolonged sitting weakens abdomen muscles, worsening digestion. Fear not, I’ll provide tips to combat pain. Let’s unravel this enigma together. You’ll gain the knowledge to transform your seated experience and bid farewell to stomach pain. Your stomach will thank you!

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As a general rule, stomach pain while sitting is caused by gas that tends to return to the esophagus and escape through the mouth during belching. The air tends to travel down when lying flat, causing gas in the stomach. It is always a good idea to get a proper medical diagnosis.

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I will provide you with detailed explanations of why your stomach may hurt when you are sitting. The simple recommendations I give in this blog will help you to avoid stomach pains while seated and help you to feel better. Again, it is always a good idea to get a proper evaluation from your health expert. Hopefully, you may find that my experience as a practitioner with over 30 years of practice, and training as an ergonomist and author on sitting, I’m well-equipped to provide valuable insights. My contributions to this field have been well-received, with TV appearances, my Youtube channel, and a successful Kickstarter campaign for my ergonomic seat cushions. If you’re searching for answers, I’m confident that I can offer meaningful guidance.

I will break down any possible reasons for stomach pain while sitting into two categories, mechanical or medical reasons. I will provide some valuable tips if your pain is produced by a mechanical problem, such as poor posture. Later in this article, I will go through possible medical issues that may be causing your stomach pain. Again, I strongly urge you to consider getting a proper medical diagnosis if you want to rule out any severe condition. This article is not a substitute for a proper medical diagnosis.  

As a rule of thumb, if you’re feeling stomach pain every time you sit down, it’s probably gas. Gas can build up inside the intestines, and sitting puts more pressure on it, so if it gets trapped, it can become painful. It is impossible to tell without an accurate medical history and exam.

Abdominal Pain When Sitting: Mechanical Issues

Your body is amazing! Your nervous system controls every part, including your stomach and intestines. It branches out from the lower down of your spine. It travels to all these parts to work how they’re supposed to – like digestion, movement of food through the GI tract (digestive tract), absorption of nutrients/minerals, etc., removing waste products via the intestines, et cetera.

When the vertebrae in your spine are not lined up, they can press against nerves, making it difficult for them to do their job. This leads to abdominal pain, cramps, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, or constipation – symptoms of a malfunctioning organ! When you’re feeling tense from sitting at work all day, that muscle tension might affect how well your digestive system gets along with everything else.

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2 Simple Ways to Correct Mechanical Abdomen Issues

Chiropractic or Osteopathic Care

A competent Chiropractor or Osteopath may help by reducing pressure on your nerves, joints, and muscles to restore the normal function of your digestive system. Two techniques may be employed to improve spinal column alignment: manipulation with rapid thrusts realigning vertebrae, and mobilization, a slower, more gentle technique. Your treatment plan might include massage therapy and other therapeutic approaches such as non-surgical spinal decompression.

Getting Your Sitting Position Correct

Is there anything worse than abdominal pain? Perhaps the way you are sitting isn’t good for your health. If we don’t do it properly, we will only make things worse and won’t fix the problem if we do it wrong!

I explain the concept of my ergonomic design on a TV show HERE

For the most comfortable sitting position, you should sit back as far as your seat so that your bottom and back can be supported well. The feet need to stay planted on the floor. Keep in mind to put more height into the chair if possible too! Do not cross your legs or flex them under either because it causes tension in muscles used for standing up from a seated position again later when someone may want to leave quickly (or they might get stiff).

If you’re struggling with back pain, I wrote an article on how to manage your pain and why you should do these important steps and I encourage you to read it!

Poor posture can slow your digestion! I have learned how to help with stomach pain when sitting from my experience as a chiropractor and ergonomic adviser. It offers some research-based tips for sitting that can help alleviate discomfort while seated. Here are my recommendations:

Sit With the Correct Angles

The first thing you should do when sitting is to ensure your hips are at a higher angle than your knees. A lack of blood flow from blood pooling can lead to adverse health effects, such as increased abdominal pressure, lumbar spine, and lower extremities.

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If we decide where or how to sit for work, the most crucial consideration is the type of chair underneath us: an office chair or an ergonomic seat cushion. It’s also important that the seat support fits your body, along with its height, relative to the hip-to-knee ratio, because if not, your stomach and spine will bear the brunt of the lower abdominal pain and pressure!

Increased intra-abdominal pressure can exacerbate certain types of abdominal discomfort or pain, particularly those related to digestive disorders or certain types of hernias. Let’s break this down to understand why this could be:

Body posture and intra-abdominal pressure: When you sit at a 90-degree angle, your organs are compressed, increasing the pressure within your abdominal cavity (intra-abdominal pressure). This pressure can irritate certain conditions or exacerbate feelings of discomfort. In contrast, when you stand, your organs have more room and the pressure within your abdomen decreases.

Digestive conditions: If a person has a condition like gastritis, ulcers, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), increased intra-abdominal pressure can push stomach contents and acid upwards into the esophagus, causing discomfort or pain. Similarly, conditions like diverticulitis, where pouches in the colon become inflamed, may also be aggravated by increased intra-abdominal pressure when sitting.

Hernias: Hernias, particularly inguinal and hiatal hernias, can be sensitive to changes in intra-abdominal pressure. Increased pressure may push the herniated tissue further out of place, resulting in increased pain or discomfort.

Sitting at a 110-degree angle, in contrast, can reduce intra-abdominal pressure. This posture more closely resembles a standing position in that the organs have more space and are less compressed. It can also improve digestion by reducing pressure on the stomach and encouraging the downward flow of food and stomach acid, which may reduce symptoms in people with GERD or other similar conditions.

Finally, adjusting your body position can also affect how you perceive pain. Certain positions can help distract from the pain or make it feel less intense, while others might make you focus more on the discomfort. Therefore, finding a comfortable sitting position, such as an ergonomic seat cushion to achieve a relative 110-degree angle, may help alleviate stomach pain.

With stomach pain, while seated, it may be worth considering reclining your chairs as far down as 110 degrees so they can reduce the pressure on your stomach and spinal discs. Sitting up straight increases your risk of getting even more serious problems like herniated discs or pinched nerves!


When you’ve stomach pain while seated, keeping your spine nice and straight is essential. If your posture is slumped forward or stooped over, the spinal cord can get pinched! When this happens, there are significant consequences for all those nerves squeezed in between two spinal bones instead of getting roomy space like we want them to have so they won’t feel too crowded.

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.

I found that a good angle for sitting is 110-135 degrees, but sitting in that position all day is not practical. Through my research, I have found that the optimal recline range of 8-13 degrees or 3-4 inches off your knees and hips feels comfortable and less abdominal pain stomach.

Seat Cushion for Tummy

As a chiropractor, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of abdominal pain while sitting. Countless patients have come to me, desperate for relief. I have tried many ‘orthopedic’ or ‘ergonomic’ seat cushions, but I never found one perfect for my patients. I wanted something that would provide support and comfort but also be able to help with spinal alignment.

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After doing some research, I decided to design my seat cushion and test it out on people who were looking for comfort and support. After many attempts using various materials and designs, I ultimately created an ergonomic seat cushion that people liked, and now I’m sharing it with the world! My seat cushion is made with natural latex foam, which contours your body and provides support where you need it most.  

In my design process, I found that natural latex is more supportive than memory foam or polyurethane foams, and it has a higher density that helps to keep the spine in alignment. I also wanted the cushion to have a 4-way stretch vegan leather to be comfortable and durable. After months of testing different prototypes, I finally designed a seat cushion (in the two pictures above) that met all of my criteria. The cushion has helped many of my patients find relief from stomach pain, and I am confident that it can help you too.

I explain the concept of my design on a TV show


Abdominal Pain from Medical Issues

According to a recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services, abdominal pain and cramps is the single leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States. Although stomach pain is often referred to as abdominal pain, certain other factors can also cause it. Your abdominal area also houses other vital organs such as the intestines, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, and appendix, so you should know what could be causing that ache before going through all those tests!


Are you suffering from dull, achy pain you cannot seem to get rid of? Does the pain come and go, or is it sharp, stabbing? The doctor can learn a lot from this.

The affected area (Upper abdominal pain & left abdominal pain): 

Determining the exact location can be tricky, but you may want to concentrate on the upper abdomen, lower abdomen, or right or left side. There are many organs in the abdomen.

Other symptoms of chronic abdominal pain: 

In addition to abdominal pain, do you encounter nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, or nausea? All of these circumstances will be analyzed by your doctor when making a diagnosis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Stomach pain is a common symptom of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). And for many people with IBS, sitting can make that pain worse. That’s because sitting puts pressure on the intestines and can trigger spasms in the digestive system’s muscles. The pain of IBS can range from mild to severe, and it can be incredibly disruptive to daily life. For some people, even a short car ride can be painful. That’s why it’s essential to talk to your doctor about ways to manage IBS symptoms. There are many treatments available that can help minimize pain and other symptoms. You can still enjoy your life despite having IBS with the right treatment plan.

Severe Abdominal Pain, When to worry:

Go to the emergency room if you have:

  • Pain or  stomach ache in the abdomen that is constant or severe
  • Fever-related pain
  • Any time the intensity of the pain shifts, such as from a dull ache to a sharp pain or originating in one area and going elsewhere
  • In addition to pain, there can also be other serious or unexpected symptoms such as respiratory problems or mental changes.
  • Localized pain
  • It could indicate appendicitis to find pain in the right lower quadrant.
  • A cholecystitis or gallbladder infection may be seen in the upper right quadrant.
  • Diverticulitis or other infections could cause pain in the left lower quadrant.  
  • Diarrhea. If you have diarrhea (especially vomiting), you probably have a viral or bacterial infection. 
  • Norovirus. Noroviruses are one of the leading causes of gastroenteritis.  By the way, diarrhea is an underestimated symptom of Coronavirus!
  • Kidney stone. Take it from my experience; a kidney stone is the worst pain you may ever experience! Typically comes with stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Stomach Discomfort When Seated but Not While Upright

I empathize with your situation, those abdominal pains seem to worsen when you’re seated, don’t they? It’s quite perplexing, but lend me your ear. In my medical practice, I’ve encountered this situation; it’s not as uncommon as one might assume. At times, the root cause of such a stomach ache could be traced back to our spine and core. Subpar spinal alignment and a weakened core can significantly contribute to this predicament.

When we are seated, our abdomen can experience increased cramps due to a non-standard distribution of pressure, something that doesn’t transpire when we are upright. These cramps could transmute into severe abdominal pain if we don’t maintain proper posture.

Discomfort in Upper Abdomen When Seated

You may be wondering, why does your upper abdominal pain seem to intensify when you sit? Based on my clinical experience, the act of sitting can often make any pre-existing tummy ache worse. It comes down to our bodily structure and its functions.

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Stomach Discomfort When Seated or Lying Down

If you find yourself dealing with abdominal discomfort when you’re seated or reclining, this could be a signal of inadequate core strength or imbalance. This might imply that your body is finding it difficult to support your spine in these positions, leading to discomfort in your abdomen.

In this case, your user video player could be a lifesaver. Try searching for an embedded YouTube video demonstrating basic core strengthening workouts. This could potentially revolutionize your approach to managing abdominal pain.

Abdominal Discomfort When Applying Pressure to the Midsection

Ah, the classic ‘press test’. If you experience pain when you exert pressure on your abdomen, this could signify a range of potential problems. One of them could be irritable bowel syndrome, which frequently displays symptoms of abdominal pain.

Make sure you have such issues medically reviewed. It’s essential to remember that this is about your health.

Lower Abdomen Sensitivity to Touch

Experiencing lower abdominal pain, particularly when sensitive to touch, can be alarming. It’s as if your body is sending you a signal for attention. This could be something as routine as irritable bowel syndrome or as serious as left abdominal pain, which might be a sign of a more severe condition.

Make sure you liaise with your healthcare provider and set up regular health check-ups. By doing so, you can stay ahead of any potential problems before they get worse.

Remember, a robust core and a correctly aligned spine can substantially aid in managing your abdominal pain. These are your primary defense mechanisms, so it’s crucial to focus on them. After all, our bodies deserve the utmost care possible.

Stomach Pain When Sitting but Not Standing

Experiencing stomach pain when sitting but not standing can be linked to the abdomen’s positioning and how it affects internal organs. The abdomen houses numerous organs, and the alteration of pressure between sitting and standing positions might cause discomfort. Chronic abdominal pain that feels worse when sitting could signify a deeper issue such as an irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive conditions. If this type of lower abdominal pain persists, it’s crucial to seek medical advice.

If you’re struggling with back pain, I wrote an article on how to manage your pain and why you should do these important steps and I encourage you to read it!

Upper Stomach Hurts When Sitting Down

Upper abdominal pain when sitting down may be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When you sit, the angle of your abdomen might cause stomach acid to push upwards, leading to pain. The abdomen’s discomfort could worsen if you recently consumed food, as digestion puts additional pressure on the abdomen.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Sit or Lay Down

This abdominal pain could be a symptom of gallstones or pancreatitis, particularly if the pain is located on the left side of your abdomen. Gallstones can cause severe abdominal pain that worsens when you change positions, while pancreatitis often results in pain that worsens after eating. Irritable bowel syndrome can also cause tummy ache when sitting or lying down.

My Stomach Hurts When I Press On It in the Middle

This could indicate an inflamed appendix, especially if the painful spot is in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen. However, stomach ache when applying pressure in the middle could also be a sign of an ulcer, gastritis, or irritable bowel syndrome. If the pain persists, it’s vital to get it medically reviewed to diagnose the cause and begin appropriate treatment.

Why Is My Lower Stomach Tender to Touch

Tenderness in the lower abdomen can be caused by numerous conditions, such as ovarian cysts in women or a urinary tract infection in both genders. Other conditions that may cause lower abdominal pain include diverticulitis, endometriosis, or chronic intestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

In conclusion, if you’re experiencing consistent abdominal pain, it’s essential to seek medical attention. There could be a variety of causes, from temporary discomfort to serious conditions. It is always better to get a professional evaluation to identify the cause and start the right treatment.


Don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help! The list of possible reasons why you’re stomach ache is extensive. In other words, the possibilities are endless–and we must rule out a serious illness or condition when your pain persists and gets intense. 

Many people have been affected by stomach pain at some point. If your pain is exacerbated by sitting, you may deal with something more serious. A hurt stomach can make life hard, and sometimes it’s impossible to figure out why! 

To find the most beneficial guidance on ergonomic information, visit my stomach medically reviewed blog for helpful posts like this one and other health-related topics that will help keep your body healthy.




  1. Can J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan; 25(1): 39–40. doi: 10.1155/2011/910469, Chiropractic treatment for gastrointestinal problems: A systematic review of clinical trials. Stomach medically reviewed.
  2. Schiller, L.R., 2000. Diarrhea. Medical Clinics of North America84(5), pp.1259-1274.
  3. Wilcox, C.M., Yadav, D., Ye, T., Gardner, T.B., Gelrud, A., Sandhu, B.S., Lewis, M.D., Al-Kaade, S., Cote, G.A., Forsmark, C.E. and Guda, N.M., 2015. Chronic pancreatitis pain pattern and severity are independent of abdominal imaging findings. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology13(3), pp. 552-560. Pain medically reviewed.
  4. Adekoya, N., 2010. Reasons for visits to emergency departments for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program patients: United States, 2004. North Carolina medical journal71(2), pp.123-130.
  5. Macaluso, C.R. and McNamara, R.M., 2012. Evaluation and management of acute abdominal pain in the emergency department. International journal of general medicine5, p.789. Symptoms abdominal pain.
  6. Elwood, D.R., 2008. Cholecystitis. Surgical Clinics of North America88(6), pp.1241-1252.
  7. Humes, D.J. and Simpson, J., 2006. Acute appendicitis. Bmj333(7567), pp.530-534.
  8. Klopfenstein, T., Royer, P.Y., Toko, L., Gendrin, V. and Zayet, S., 2020. Diarrhea: An underestimated symptom in Coronavirus disease 2019.
  9. Boyden, E.A. and Rigler, L.G., 1934. Localized Pain Accompanying Faradic Excitation of the Stomach and Duodenum. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine31(6), pp. 655-656.

Table of Contents


Why Does My Stomach Hurt? 17 Possible Causes of Stomach Pain

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on May 10, 2023

  • What Is Abdominal Pain?
  • Types of Abdominal Pain
  • Abdominal Pain Causes
  • Recurrent Abdominal Pain
  • When to Call the Doctor About Abdominal Pain
  • Abdominal Pain Diagnosis
  • Abdominal Pain Treatment and Home Remedies
  • More

Abdominal pain is discomfort or other uncomfortable sensations that you feel in your belly area. Just about everybody at one time or another will get a bellyache.

Most causes of abdominal pain aren’t reasons to worry, and your doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. Sometimes, though, it can be a sign of a serious illness that needs medical attention.

Photo credit: Wacharaphorn Phetpradub / EyeEm / Getty Images

There are several types of abdominal pain, based on how quickly your pain starts and how long it lasts: 

  • Acute pain starts over a few hours or days and may come with other symptoms.
  • Chronic pain lasts longer – from weeks to months or more – and may come and go.
  • Progressive pain gets worse over time and often comes with other symptoms.

The abdomen contains digestive organs including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. Problems affecting these organs and others can cause abdominal pain. Image: WebMD

Whether you’ve got a mild ache or serious cramps, abdominal pain can have many causes. For instance, you might have indigestion, constipation, a stomach virus, or menstrual cramps.

Other causes include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Food allergies
  • Appendicitis
  • Kidney stones
  • A urinary tract infection
  • Diverticulitis
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (swelling in the belly’s main artery)
  • Bowel blockage or obstruction
  • Cancer of the stomach, pancreas, liver, bile duct, gallbladder, or immune cells
  • Ovarian cancer or cysts 
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • Low blood flow to your intestines caused by a blocked blood vessel
  • Ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized eggs grows outside the uterus, for example, in a fallopian tube)   

If you have at least three stomachaches over 3 months, and they’re severe enough to keep you from doing everyday activities, you have what doctors call “recurrent abdominal pain.

Recurrent abdominal pain symptoms

Recurrent abdominal pain feels different from person to person. The pain may start and stop without warning, or it could be ongoing. Some people describe it as a dull ache in their belly. Others have sharp cramps. Besides pain, there may be symptoms like diarrhea or throwing up.

If your abdominal pain is serious, doesn’t go away, or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor. Call 911 right away if your belly hurts because you had a recent injury there or if you have chest pain.

You should also contact your doctor as soon as you can if you have symptoms along with the pain, such as:

  • Can’t keep food down for more than 2 days
  • Signs you’re getting dehydrated, including not urinating frequently, dark-colored urine, and being very thirsty
  • Can’t have a bowel movement, especially if you’re also vomiting
  • Pain when you urinate or you need to urinate often

Also call your doctor if:

  • Your belly is tender to the touch
  • Pain lasts more than a few hours

You may have other symptoms that could be a sign of a problem inside your body that needs treatment as soon as possible. Get medical care right away if you have abdominal pain and you also:

  • Vomit blood
  • Notice bloody or black, tarry bowel movements
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Vomit constantly
  • Have swelling in your belly
  • Have yellow skin
  • Are pregnant
  • Have unexplained weight loss

Since there are so many possible causes, your doctor will do a thorough physical exam. They’ll also ask you some questions about your symptoms and want to know what type of pain you have. For instance, is it a severe stabbing pain or a dull ache?

Some other questions your doctor may ask you:

  • Does it hurt throughout your abdomen, or is it just in one particular area?
  • When does it hurt? Always? More often in the morning or at night?
  • If the pain comes and goes, how long does it last each time?
  • Does it hurt after you eat certain foods or drink alcohol?
  • Are you in pain during menstruation?
  • How long have you been hurting?
  • Does the pain sometimes move into your lower back, shoulder, groin, or buttocks?
  • Do you take any medications or herbal supplements?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Does any activity ease the pain, such as eating or lying on one side?
  • Does an activity or position make the pain worse?
  • Were you injured recently?

After your exam is over and your doctor is done asking you questions, you may need tests to help find the cause of your pain. These tests may include:

  • Stool or urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Barium swallows or enemas
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Upper endoscopy
  • X-rays

The treatment for abdominal pain depends on its cause and may include:

  • Medications to lower inflammation, prevent acid reflux, or treat ulcers or infection
  • Surgery to treat a problem with an organ

Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your stomach and worsen your pain. Don’t take them unless a doctor has diagnosed the cause of your belly pain and recommends their use.

Some diet and lifestyle changes may help ease belly pain caused by gas and indigestion. Here are some things you can try:

  • Eat smaller portions at more frequent meals.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Chew your food well.
  • Drink beverages at room temperature.
  • Avoid foods that give you gas or indigestion.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.
  • Sit up straight after you eat.
  • Get regular physical activity and take a short walk after you eat.

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Abdominal pain is one of the most common and most neglected complaints. They come to the doctors with it, but much more often they prefer to drink painkillers, endure, wait. Discomfort and other discomfort in the abdomen can be really not a dangerous sign and even a manifestation of the norm. But in many cases, pain indicates a serious illness. Then the lost time, improper self-treatment can aggravate the problem and lead to complications.

To understand how dangerous the pain is, why it appeared, you need to take into account many factors. Where, how, how long it hurts, what other symptoms are – all this will help to understand the situation and make the right decision – treat at home, go to the doctor or even call emergency care. We compiled this quick guide to the possible causes of abdominal pain with the help of various doctors – a gastroenterologist, a gynecologist, a urologist, an internist and a cardiologist. Listen to your feelings to try to figure out the situation on your own. And for more specific help – we invite you to the medical and diagnostic center “Kutuzovsky”. Our specialists will correctly diagnose any pathology and prescribe competent measures for treatment and rapid improvement of well-being.

What can hurt in the stomach

The abdomen is a place where a large number of internal organs are located. These are bodies such as:

  • Stomach.
  • Liver.
  • Pancreas.
  • Spleen.
  • Gallbladder.
  • Intestines.
  • Organs of the reproductive system in men and women – the uterus and its appendages, the prostate gland.
  • Bladder and others.

In addition, complaints of abdominal pain can occur with circulatory disorders in the abdominal cavity, pathologies of the spine and nervous system, and even with diseases in the organs adjacent to the abdominal cavity. Cardiac and pulmonary pathologies can be given such irradiating pains. This is due to the connection of the abdominal organs with the central nervous system. Because of this, it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis only from the words of the patient and after an external examination with palpation of the abdomen. It is advisable to remember and tell the doctor in detail your feelings – where the pain began, how other features changed in your well-being and condition.

Exactly how the stomach hurts

The stomach can hurt in different ways, and the nature of the pain can tell a lot about the cause. She can be:

  • Acute, stabbing – occurs abruptly and immediately quite strong.
  • Chronic – disturbs for a while, may pass and reappear after a while.
  • Aching – may resemble a feeling of hunger or heaviness.
  • Cutting, burning – acute attack.
  • Tonic – with tension and uncontrolled muscle contractions, spasms.

Pain may be the only symptom or may be accompanied by others: nausea, flatulence, stool disorders, frequent urination, vaginal discharge, fever. Such symptoms complement the picture of the disease and allow you to more accurately determine the problem.

By where it hurts, you can at least roughly understand which organ to examine. So:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen is highly likely to indicate diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Less often – about developing myocardial infarction.
  • Pain in the left side of the abdomen – mainly indicates problems with the pancreas or spleen.
  • Pain in the right side of the abdomen – attention to the liver and gallbladder.
  • Lower pain – pathology of the genitourinary system, intestines.

Causes of abdominal pain

Consider the main options for what and why it hurts in the stomach.


Pathologies in it appear due to malnutrition, infections, injuries and other factors. The main diseases of the stomach, which can be manifested by pain:

  • Gastritis – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the whole organ or part of it. Discomfort often occurs after eating, there is a characteristic burning sensation, a feeling of overeating (or vice versa hunger).
  • Ulcers – formed on the affected mucosa, the symptoms are similar to gastritis.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or simply reflux) is heartburn due to a weakening of the valve between the stomach and esophagus, causing stomach contents to reflux into it.


Major diseases:

  • Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane in the colon or rectum. With this disease, intoxication of the body occurs, blood may be present in the feces.
  • Enteritis – inflammation of the small intestine, similar to food poisoning.
  • Crohn’s disease – inflammation of one or more sections of the intestine, dangerous for the development of intestinal obstruction.
  • Dysbacteriosis, inflammatory bowel syndrome – disorders of the normal intestinal microflora. Digestion is disturbed, flatulence, stool disorders occur.
  • Prolonged constipation, intestinal obstruction.


Most common:

  • Pancreatitis is an inflammation in which the production of enzymes for the digestion of fats or proteins is reduced.
  • Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary pathology of the pancreas.


There are the following types of hernias: umbilical, diaphragmatic, inguinal. Appear due to heavy physical exertion, improper functioning of the intestine. Diaphragmatic hernia in symptoms can resemble gastritis, give heartburn, belching. You can determine the hernia by external signs or ultrasound.


Problems with it are characterized by abdominal pain on the right side. The main diseases of the bile and its ducts:

  • Cholecystitis – sharp pain, more often after a fatty meal. May be accompanied by vomiting with bile, increased gas formation in the intestines.
  • Cholangitis – with this inflammation of the gallbladder ducts, there is a sharp pain in the right side of the abdomen.
  • Cholelithiasis – cramping attacks occur due to the movement of stones in the bile and its ducts.

Gynecological diseases

Pain in the abdomen in women (especially in its lower part) – may be a sign of pathologies of the uterus and its appendages or … the norm. Soreness can be caused by physiological causes (for example, before menstruation). You don’t have to worry if the discomfort is insignificant, it has always been there and goes away on its own after a day or two. In a situation where the stomach began to hurt during previously painless periods, the pain is very strong and is not relieved by painkillers, the nature of the bleeding has changed (its duration, profusion, color of the blood) – it is worth being examined by a gynecologist. Such a clinical picture can be with endometriosis, inflammation in the uterus and other situations.

Major gynecological diseases that may cause abdominal pain:

  • Uterine fibroids – a benign tumor in the uterus causes aching, chronic pain in the abdomen.
  • Inflammation – adnexitis, salpingitis, oophoritis and others. May be accompanied by copious or thick vaginal discharge, fever, general weakness.
  • Growth of the endometrium of the uterus (adenomyosis, endometriosis), polyps. The pain often gets worse after or during intercourse.
  • Polycystic, ovarian cysts, their ruptures – there is pain on the left side of the abdomen in women (or on the right – depending on which side the ovary is damaged). From the cyst – pain is aching, chronic, with a rupture – acute. In this case, internal bleeding occurs and its signs are a decrease in pressure, dizziness, weakness, nausea.
  • An ectopic pregnancy in which the embryo attaches itself to the fallopian tube and eventually ruptures it. Symptoms are similar to an ovarian cyst, only everything develops more rapidly.

Abdominal pain can also occur in pregnant women. In the normal course of pregnancy, a slight feeling of heaviness is quite normal. The uterus increases in size, gradually squeezing neighboring organs. Signs of danger are sharp and unexpected pain, bleeding. Its causes can be placental abruption, miscarriage and other situations. A gynecologist’s consultation is urgently needed.


Major diseases:

  • Inflammation of one or both kidneys, indicated by pain in the abdomen on the left (or right) and also in the lumbar region, fever.
  • Urolithiasis – acute colic from the movement of stones.

Other diseases

These can be:

  • Appendicitis – drawing pain that appears above or in the umbilical region, and ends with a sharp pain in the abdomen.
  • Neurosis – a condition in which often “twists” in the stomach.
  • Damage to the muscles of the abdominal wall, lumbar spine.
  • Neoplasms of a different nature, which are formed in the abdomen.
  • Myocardial infarction – an attack may begin with intense pain in the upper, middle part of the abdomen and shortness of breath.
  • Testicular torsion in men – pain from the groin radiates to the abdomen.

When you need medical help

Call for emergency care if:

  • The pain is very severe, does not subside from taking pills within an hour.
  • During pregnancy.
  • The abdomen has become hard, the muscles on it are tense.
  • The attack is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bleeding from the vagina, rectum, ureter.
  • High temperature has risen.

Seek medical attention even if symptoms are less pronounced. To understand why the stomach is bothering, an examination with the help of ultrasound, MRI, laboratory tests will help. The list of diagnostic methods and measures for treatment will vary greatly for different diseases. You can start with a consultation with a therapist or immediately contact a specialist if there is a suspicion of a specific disease.

Kutuzovsky Medical Center is a multidisciplinary clinic where doctors of various specializations are ready to receive seven days a week. Sign up online at a convenient time and come to the address: st. Davydkovskaya, 5. We will find the cause of the disturbing symptoms and how to help in any situation.

Publication checked:

Butskikh Yulia Vladimirovna

23 years

consultative and medical department. Doctor-therapist of the highest qualification. category

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A three-step algorithm of actions for abdominal pain

Why painkillers do not help

Let’s start with the simplest question: what should be done if discomfort appears in the abdomen? Of course, take a pill! For many of us, the answer is. .. “obvious.” A person who cares “too” about health, and even more so knows “more than necessary” about it, looks strange. From the point of view of many others, he simply has nothing to do! The results are obvious: 45% of Russians, feeling pain in their stomachs, grab analgesics… And only 28% take antispasmodics. At the same time, every sixth person felt pain in the abdominal area over the past six months. Women are more often affected.

Why is an analgesic dangerous for abdominal pain?

The fact that he will not eliminate the true cause of discomfort, but will disguise it. Indeed, in 60% of cases, the culprit of the pain syndrome is a spasm.

What is spasm?

This is an excessive contraction of the smooth muscle cells of various organs. In our case, we will focus on the digestive system. Inflammatory process – for example, gastritis, enteritis, colitis or ulcers, poisoning and other effects of pathogenic microbes, a foreign body in the cavity of the digestive organ (a part from a toy in the stomach or a stone in the gallbladder), an imbalance of the substances we need – vitamins and microelements . .. Because of this, our organs, one way or another responsible for the digestion of food, feel uncomfortable and painfully compressed. Analgesics do not act on the cause of the pain, and they will only affect the transmission of nerve impulses, and the spasm will not be removed. Plus, as mentioned earlier, they will mask the pain – and the doctor will not understand anything. Or understand, but too late. After all, the remaining 40% of abdominal pain – 4 cases out of 10 – are conditions in which you need to call an ambulance!

Acute pancreatitis, appendicitis, perforation of an ulcer, rupture of an aneurysm of blood vessels in the abdominal cavity, severe inflammatory diseases in women. Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum that occurs not only when the appendix ruptures, but also in the “treatment” of gynecological diseases through patience. A stone that has come out of the gallbladder and blocked the bile duct. If you take an analgesic, it will be difficult for the doctor to understand where the cause of the disease is. And precious time, when the emergency surgery was supposed to begin, will be lost. An antispasmodic will not affect the sensations that acute cholecystitis, perforation of an ulcer, or rupture of the appendix causes. The pain will not decrease.

What happens if ordinary chronic gastritis is “treated” with an analgesic?

Painkillers of this action are harmful to the gastric mucosa (and to other digestive organs). If you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for only a week, then one in five will have a stomach ulcer. And one in seventy will begin to gastrointestinal bleeding altogether. What if to relieve pain such patients will also be analgesics? “Harmless and safe” pain medications have their own side effects. Therefore, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other analgesics should be taken under the supervision of a doctor! Turning them into daily medicine is dangerous. By the way, how long can you “treat yourself” with painkillers?

What should I do if my stomach hurts?

In 2002, Vladimir Trofimovich Ivashkin, Academician of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Chief Gastroenterologist of Russia, Director of the Clinic for Propaedeutics of Internal Diseases, Gastroenterology, Hepatology of the First Moscow State Medical University named after I. I. THEM. Sechenov, developed a stepwise algorithm of actions for abdominal pain:

• Step one – mild pain What to do: if necessary, take an antispasmodic. But: – if the pain was once, after unusual or poor-quality food, eating disorders or overeating, this is one situation. And if the pain occurs with sufficient frequency, i.e. the stomach hurts sometimes or periodically, or in the morning, or after nervous stress, or even from hunger – the situation is completely different. Go to the doctor for an appointment as soon as possible!

• Stage two – the pain is quite severe and/or long-lasting What to do: be sure to take an antispasmodic. After that – even if the stomach hurts less or the abdominal pain stops altogether, consult a doctor immediately!

• Stage three – very severe pain! Or pain that gets worse. If the stomach hurts unbearably, the same 40% could be the cause – appendicitis, rupture of the gallbladder, perforation of the ulcer, thrombosis of the intestinal vessels. What to do: call an ambulance!

Five principles everyone should know

Stomach pain is a special kind of pain. Its nature is simply not taken into account by universal drugs for relieving pain. And our compatriots, having encountered at least once a modern “optimized” clinic (according to the standards of the Ministry of Health, one gastroenterologist relies on 70 thousand people), they try to solve the problem by taking a pill. Why it is dangerous, they will not be told. After all, there are not enough doctors even for treatment, let alone for prevention and health schools. Therefore, the French manufacturer SANOFI organized a training program – “Pain that is dangerous to anesthetize” with the involvement of gastroenterologists to participate in the educational project. Clinical pharmacologist, candidate of medical sciences, Alexander Maslyakov, has developed another memo for the patient – five principles of action for abdominal pain.

• Principle 1. One of the causes of abdominal pain is spasm, contraction of the smooth muscles of the digestive organs under the influence of adverse factors. For this reason, drugs that relieve pain are only first aid. Be sure to find out why the stomach hurts, i.e. what is the condition of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and spleen.

• Principle 2. The drug of first choice for abdominal pain is an antispasmodic. If you have a spasm of the smooth muscles of the stomach or intestines, after taking the medicine, it will hurt less. And in acute conditions requiring urgent surgery, antispasmodics will not mask pain, and the doctor will have time to understand what happened and how to act.

• Principle 3: For abdominal pain, analgesics are dangerous! Under no circumstances should they be used! A drug of this type will not eliminate the cause of pain – it will simply block the transmission of signals about malfunctions in the body. The brain does not recognize problems. Doctors do not even know about them – after all, pain is masked, and it is difficult to make a correct diagnosis.

• Principle 4. If the pain reliever does not relieve the pain in 2-3 hours, see a doctor!

• Principle 5. If your stomach pain is severe, if it gets worse or even just doesn’t go away, if you have a fever, if you have low blood pressure, if you have nausea and/or vomiting, if you have a headache, call 911 immediately!

Be careful! Take care of yourself!

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