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What Should I Know About Abdominal Soreness?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The abdomen, which may also be called the stomach or belly, is a large area that touches many important organs. Abdominal soreness may refer to pains felt anywhere from the pelvis to the lower chest, and this large of a surface area means that abdominal pain can result from numerous things. Many causes of temporary pain in the abdomen are mild and don’t require attention. Excess gas or overeating can cause great discomfort, and conditions like viruses can also result in lots of stomach pain that resolves, as people get better. Other causes of soreness that are usually benign include cramping with monthly menstruation, and discomfort after working out the stomach muscles.

Pain intensity isn’t always a good indication of seriousness of conditions. Excess gas or a bout of stomach flu can be extremely painful, while mild abdominal soreness indicating other more serious conditions could be ignored. It’s therefore a good idea to know when pain indicates seeing a doctor. Usually, if pain persists for over a week, regardless of severity, it is worth seeing a physician. Any pain that occurs during early pregnancy warrants quick medical attention, and people suffering from diarrhea or nausea that lasts for more than three or four days should also seek medical care.

Some symptoms when present with abdominal soreness warrant immediate medical help. These include vomiting but inability to have a bowel movement. Other things to look for are vomiting blood or black stools that could indicate internal bleeding, significant chest pain, and pain in the shoulders or neck. Another potential emergency is if the stomach is distended or pushed out and tender to the touch.

There are so many causes of abdominal soreness that it would be difficult to list them all. Pain can indicate conditions like appendicitis, abdominal bleeding, stomach or bowel cancer, obstruction of the bowel, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, or kidney stones, to name just a few. Though many conditions that cause discomfort are directly linked to the bowel or intestines, sometimes pain suggests conditions that aren’t really related to the stomach or gut. Pain in the stomach can be caused by aortic rupture or heart attack and strep throat cases may result in belly aches, particularly in kids.

How a doctor addresses pain in the abdomen depends very much on cause. Therefore there’s no single treatment for it. Diagnosing cause can be difficult too, though sometimes the solution is obvious. Appendicitis is fairly easy to visualize on an x-ray, but conditions like irritable bowel syndrome may have to be diagnosed through process of elimination, and could involve numerous tests in order to rule out other things.

Since there is no single cause of abdominal soreness, people should merely pay attention to guidelines for when to get medical help. Unfortunately, with certain conditions, good medical attention may not totally address pain. Some people, like those with Crohn’s disease, may deal with chronic low level stomach pain that isn’t fully resolved through various treatments for Crohn's disease.

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.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Apr 28, 2011

I do a lot of speed walking and get soreness in my stomach from that. It's not normal though, my doctor said that it happens when the posture is not right and the stomach is overused and hurt.

I've been going to a personal trainer who helped me with my posture and taught me exercises to strengthen my stomach muscles. I haven't had any soreness in the past couple of weeks so I guess it's working.

By Spinner — On Apr 28, 2011

The article mentions kidney stones as a possible source of abdominal soreness. If you are having lower back pain along with the abdominal soreness, and it eventually spreads to your groin area, that is usually a red flag for kidney stones. One of the most painful experiences ever! Eat healthy and drink lots of fluids so it doesn't happen to you.

By risotto — On Apr 28, 2011

I have Celiac disease and it can be very painful. If you are having abdominal pains, pay attention to when they occur. If they are usually after meals, it is probably something you are eating that is bothering your stomach. It used to be an invasive procedure to test people for Celiac, but now it just requires a simple blood test because it is so common.

By KLHChef — On Apr 27, 2011

Abdominal pain can also be caused by food allergies. For example, people who are gluten intolerant often suffer from stomach pains if they ingest gluten. This is known as Celiac disease and has become very common, but often goes undiagnosed. Simply staying away from foods that contain gluten (flour, wheat, rye, oats, barley) will eliminate the abdominal pain.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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