Abdominal Pain FAQ’s from a Phoenix Pain Management Center

Chronic abdominal pain is described as a constant pain that lasts for three months or longer. This pain is caused by stress and changes in the nervous system. Experts have discovered a direct connection between the brain and the nerves of the stomach, which explains the symptoms related to chronic pain of the abdomen.

How common is chronic abdominal pain?

According to prevalence rates in the U.S., chronic abdominal pain occurs between 0.5%-2.0%. This disorder is less common than functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What are the symptoms of chronic abdominal pain?

Chronic abdominal pain is often describe as constant or near constant. However, it can come and go. It can be sharp, shooting, dull, aching, or squeezing. The symptoms of this discomfort are often connected to the reproductive and urinary systems.

What are the types of chronic abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain can be:

  • Generalized pain – Felt in more than half of the abdomen. This pain can occur due to recurrent indigestion and gas. Severe generalized pain of the abdomen is often related to blocked intestines.
  • Cramp-like pain – With this pain, patients often have bloating and gas, which is often associated with diarrhea.
  • Colicky pain – This type of abdominal pain comes in waves, starts and ends suddenly, and is quite severe. Gallstones and kidney stones cause this type of pain.
  • Localized pain – This pain is often related to one particular abdominal organ, such as the stomach, intestines, or appendix.

What causes chronic abdominal pain?

Based on current research, scientists speculate chronic abdominal pain is a disorder of the nervous system. With this complex condition, the nerve impulses are increased, and the pain is associated with stress and emotions. Any injury or trauma during surgery will cause abdomen nerves to become sensitive. Other causes include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – This condition causes stomach cramps, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea in addition to crampy pain.
  • Menstrual pain – This includes muscle cramps and uterus contractions during menses.
  • Gastritis – This involves irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining and excessive acid.

What are the risk factors for chronic abdominal pain?

Chronic abdominal pain often occurs for no reason, but it is usually related to a stressful event. After the first event, when additional stress occurs, symptoms worsen. Risk factors include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Abuse
  • Divorce
  • Injury
  • Surgery

What are the treatment options for chronic abdominal pain?

  • Medication Management – This may include anything from NSAIDS to Opiates. In moderation, they can be very effective.

 

  • Neurolytic celiac plexus block – This is interventional technique used for chronic abdominal pain and visceral cancer pain. This procedure involves insertion of needles into the midback near the celiac plexus. Once in place, a neurolytic agent is injected, such as phenol or alcohol. A recent study found this procedure to have a 90% efficacy rate.

 

  • Intraspinal drug delivery – Epidural and intrathecal pain medication delivery is useful for chronic forms of abdominal pain. With this technique, minute quantities of a systemic opioid can be delivered.

 

  • Superior hypogastric plexus block – According to a recent clinical study, this block has a 72% effectiveness rate, and is useful for pain relief for up to six months.
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