huge dull vice grip feeling stomach cramp dead in the middle of my abdomen/between the ribs

by t powell
(south east texas)

Every so often i get this huge dull vice grip feeling stomach cramp dead in the middle of my abdomen/between the ribs. It usually last at least 5-10 minutes and I can feel the pain radiating through my upper arms, and im just stuck bent over whenever it strikes. Its almost like its locked up until it passes and then i can stand up straight and its like it never happened

Dear Powell,

I get this exact description from patients from time to time.

They tell me that they are usually fine going about their normal business or shortly after a meal and suddenly from the "blues" come this vile huge severe pain in the middle of their upper abdomen or sometimes more to the right side of their upper abdomen. The pain is so severe that they bend over, clutching the side of their upper abdomen, rolling and pacing around, seeking a position of comfort.

They may feel nauseated with the pain. Some sweat profusely during such episode. After about 3 to 15 minutes, the pain goes away and life goes no as normal. Sounds weird doesn't it? Is that what you feel?

Actually, what you have described are symptoms of what we call colic.

It could be from the bowel - as in trapped wind following a hurried meal in some people, or it could be colic from the gallbladder (biliary colic). Another colic that presents like this is renal colic - from kidney stone, but that is usually felt on the side or flank. Yours does not sound like kidney stone or renal colic. Angina (bowel or cardiac angina) could also present like this.

Now time for some frank and sensitive talks, Powell. Would you describe yourself as someone who eats in a hurry? What about cigarettes - do you smoke? How old are you? Is there any one with angina or heart condition in your immediate family? What is your weight like? Any significant long standing medical problems - like hypertension or diabetes? Are you on any medication?

If you think there might be relationship to meals - either hurried or heavy meals, then trying to avoid either or both might help.

If not, please I would suggest you see your doctor so that you can be assessed to exclude the more potentially serious cause which would be angina affecting the heart. What do you think Powell?

Please do not hesitate to contact us, should you require any further or specific info or assistance.

Many thanks for visiting us here at and ...

Good Health To You.

Family Physician, Emergency Medicine Practitioner and WebMD

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