Lower left abdominal pain is pain experienced to the left of an imaginary line, which is drawn from the level of the belly button vertically down to just under the waist line. It is a common pain for women and the elderly.
Common causes of lower left abdominal pain include trapped wind, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, celiac disease, left kidney stone, left kidney infection, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, left ectopic pregnancy, left ovarian disease and infection of the left Fallopian tubes in women.
Like other parts of the body, in order to have a better understanding of lower left side abdominal pain, an insight into organs and other structures found in the region will help.
The organs and structures include:
Any disease affecting these organs and structures could potentially cause such pain. The most likely conditions that cause lower left abdominal pain include:
Here we look in some detail at the most common causes of pain in the lower left abdomen and how the doctor may seek to confirm the diagnosis.
You can get air trapped in your gut whilst chewing or talking for extended periods of time. It can also happen as a result of anxiety or after eating certain types of food. This could then lead to the distention of the lumen of our bowel and therefore cause pain.
Trapped wind could just be a short term passing condition or it could be a sign of some other bowel conditions. Excess wind or trapped wind in the large bowel or stomach can cause lower or even upper left abdominal pain. Other symptoms could include feeling well but bloated. You may struggle with cramping in the abdomen and the passing of wind out of the anus.
Trapped wind could be a symptom in other conditions such as constipation, IBS or celiac disease.
IBS is a disorder in how the bowels function, without any demonstrable physical or structural problem in the bowel. This is a consequence of how the gut responds to environmental factors and is most common in young women.
About 10-15 out of every 100 people will suffer this condition but it does not cause any serious long term effect to the health of sufferers. However, it can cause:
These symptoms should have been going on for at least 3 to 6 months.
If you suffering with a lower left abdominal pain or discomfort, on and off for the three months or more, with associated bloating, worsened by eating but relieved by defecation, with constipation or diarrhoea, it is most likely that you have a treatable condition called irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
You can read more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome here.
Constipation is the infrequent passage of stools or passage of hard stools and can cause lower left abdominal pain if it is this part of the bowel that is affected. Constipation is characterised by a reduced frequency in the passing of faeces, feeling bloated, a reduced appetite and a passing of strong smelling gas from the anus.
As we grow older our lower bowel stretches and develops pouches called diverticulum. Faeces get stuck in these recesses and they become inflamed. If there are a number of these pouches, then the pain can worsen.
Such diverticulum (diverticula for more than one) can be found anywhere along the bowel, but tends to be more on the left lower end of our bowel - the Descending and Sigmoid colon.
Inflammation of the diverticulum is referred to as diverticulitis. If you happen to have a number of these inflamed diverticulum on your left lower bowel, they would cause pain in this part of the abdomen.
The symptoms of diverticulitis include:
If you are 40 years and over, have a severe left lower abdominal pain that is made worse on movement, feel unwell (feverish - hot and cold), nauseated, passing hard or watery stool with or without blood and mucus, it is very likely that you have diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis is a medical emergency. It would be important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is another common cause of left lower abdominal pain in women. It is the inflammation of the cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries in a woman arising from an infection.
It is a condition is common in women between the ages of 16 and 65.
Should the left Fallopian tube and/or ovary be affected (Salpingitis or Salpingo Oophoritis), this could lead to pain in the lower left abdomen. The symptoms are usually those of:
Though not always, PID is often a sexually transmitted condition - following an infection with gonorrhoea and or chlamydia.
If you suspect that you may be at risk of suffering with PID as the cause of your lower left abdominal pain, see more on pelvic inflammatory disease here and best treatment options available.
Ulcerative Colitis is chronic irritation and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, large bowel and rectum. The bowel wall can develop ulcers and sores, causing bleeding and passage of blood in the stool. This is one of the inflammatory bowel diseases, along with Crohn’s Disease.
While ulcerative colitis affects only the colon and rectum, Crohn's disease can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Crohn's disease also affects the wall of the bowel deeper than ulcerative colitis does.
The common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
Because ulcerative colitis can mimic many other serious conditions like bowel cancer, Crohn's disease, tuberculosis of the large bowel, rectal cancer, it is important to seek medical attention should you be experiencing a combination of any of the above symptoms.
This is one of the top conditions any doctor would worry about, whenever a woman of child bearing age comes in with complains of lower right or lower left abdominal pain. An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency.
If you have lower right or left sided abdominal pain, plus or minus dizziness, plus or minus vaginal bleed, please speak to your doctors as a matter of urgency.
An ovarian cyst is likely in women aged between the ages of 13 – 55. It starts with pain from the left abdomen or lower back, hip or top of the thigh. When sitting a woman is likely to feel cramping and will struggle to find a comfortable position. If you are experiencing this type of pain which doesn’t go away after a few hours, then it is best to seek medical advice.
The above eight conditions are the most common causes of lower left abdominal pain. However, other causes include:
enkivillage, 6 Common Causes of Lower Left Abdominal Pain, http://www.enkivillage.com/lower-left-abdominal-pain.html (Accessed: September 2016)
Heathline, What causes abdominal tenderness? 16 possible conditions, http://www.healthline.com/symptom/abdominal-tenderness (Accessed: September 2016)
Livestrong.com, Causes of Lower Left Side Abdominal and Back Pain, http://www.livestrong.com/article/272665-what-causes-lower-left-side-abdominal-and-back-pain/ (Accessed: September 2016)
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