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What Are the Most Common Causes of Belly Button Pain?

Alex Tree
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Some of the most common causes of belly button pain are constipation or diarrhea, belly button piercings, and appendicitis. Both constipation and diarrhea can be caused by many things, including irritable bowel syndrome, but the result is usually pain around the belly button area. In addition, the pain of a belly button piercing can last for weeks, or months if the site is infected. Lastly, appendicitis is a common condition that can start with pain in the belly button, and is usually solved when the appendix is surgically removed.

Constipation is a very common cause of pain around the belly button area. Anyone can become constipated, but the elderly have a higher risk of constipation because they typically do not engage in a lot of physical activity. Besides lack of physical activity, it can be caused by more than a dozen conditions and problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, laxative abuse, and poor diet. The two most telling signs of constipation is pain in the abdomen and lack of bowel movement. Many people find relief with over the counter laxatives, but some cases require a doctor’s visit to help treat constipation.

Another potential cause of belly button pain is diarrhea, which is usually characterized by frequent watery bowel movements. Diarrhea can be caused by multiple things, but an infection many people refer to as the stomach flu is common. Other symptoms of stomach flu are vomiting and pain in other areas of the abdomen.

Belly button piercings are also one of the most common causes of pain around the belly button. After the initial pain of the piercing, it can hurt for an additional two weeks. Most belly button piercings heal within six months, but some people develop infections or experience rejection. An infection delays the healing process and must be treated with care in order to avoid scarring. The rejection rates for belly button piercings are relatively low compared to some body parts, but it is common and the person is usually advised to let the hole heal.

Appendicitis is the inflammation of an internal body part called the appendix, and causes pain on the right side. Sometimes this pain starts out as belly button pain, but gradually moves to the side. Fever, vomiting, and loss of appetite are other symptoms of appendicitis. The appendix no longer has a use in the human body, but scientists speculate that it was once an important part of the digestive system. A routine surgery can remove the appendix once doctors perform tests to rule out other potential causes of the belly button pain.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Apr 23, 2012

I found out I had irritable bowel syndrome after I asked my doctor about the cause of the pain by my belly button. She asked me a few questions, and I answered yes to all of them, so this confirmed her suspicions.

She asked if I frequently had painful gas and abdominal cramps. I dealt with trapped gas all the time. She asked if I had diarrhea or constipation often, and I told her that I seemed to go back and forth between the two.

She told me that I needed to take a fiber supplement but that I should avoid beans and broccoli, since they gave me gas. She also said I should try eating a carton of yogurt every day, since it is known to help with digestion and elimination.

By Oceana — On Apr 23, 2012

A few years ago, I suffered from constipation often. I would get pain in my belly button that was so bad I would bend over and couldn't straighten up.

I had once been constipated for five days before I broke down and took a laxative. Since there was a lot of waste inside of me, the cramping was terrible, but the medicine worked.

I knew that a lack of fiber in my diet was the problem. I ate a lot of white bread and almost never ate whole grains. After my last episode of belly button pain, I decided to make some changes.

I started eating apples with the peelings on, oatmeal, and nuts, and I switched to whole grain breads and cereals. My new diet made me so regular that I go every day now.

By kylee07drg — On Apr 22, 2012

@lighth0se33 – Your symptoms sound a lot like the ones I was experiencing right before I found out I had polycystic kidney disease. I had an intense stabbing pain right at my belly button that was so severe it made me nauseous, and I had to take strong painkillers just to deal with it.

I started having the pain on Friday, so I had to wait until Monday to see my doctor. At first, she thought I had irritable bowel syndrome, but after I started taking medication for that and didn't improve, she scheduled a CT scan.

That's how she found out I had the kidney disease. Multiple cysts were growing on my kidneys, making them bigger than normal. She said the pain occurs when a cyst ruptures.

Like you, I urinate often. I have to go once an hour, if not more. I occasionally have pain in my sides, and because my kidneys are so large, I have a sense of fullness in my abdomen. I suggest you go see your doctor.

By lighth0se33 — On Apr 21, 2012

I sometimes have mysterious pain in my belly button, and when it happens, it is intense. I feel as though I am being stabbed right in the navel, and the knife has been left in there.

I am not constipated when it occurs, and I don't have diarrhea. I have already had my appendix out, so I know it isn't that.

I have to urinate more frequently than most people, and I wonder if that could be related. I also have a full feeling in my abdomen and occasional soreness in my sides and lower back. Does anyone have any idea what might be wrong with me?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and The Health Board contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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