It might start as an upset stomach. Nothing to get too worried about – people experience this on a regular basis. It could be you are nervous about something, or your last meal did not agree with you.
The next day the abdominal pain remains. It hasn’t gotten better despite the over-the-counter medications you have taken. By the third day, it becomes clear that something might be wrong. And at the end of the month, you’re still dealing with the abdominal pain. Something may be wrong.
“Abdominal pain that lasts for more than three months is called Chronic Abdominal Pain or CAP,” said Dr. Prasad, a pain specialist with Texas Pain Relief Group in Frisco, TX. “Pain can vary in location, intensity, and character. Pain can be brief, lasting for a few minutes, or it may persist for several hours and longer. Associated symptoms can be diarrhea, bloating, indigestion.”
About 2-3% of adults at any time suffer from chronic abdominal pain. The causes of chronic abdominal pain can vary greatly.
“CAP can be caused by conditions affecting the organs in the abdomen and pelvis,” Dr. Prasad said. “Stomach and intestines; organs like liver, pancreas, kidneys, urinary bladder; female reproductive organs like ovaries and the uterus.”
Treating CAP depends on the severity and location of the abdominal pain. Often it will involve consultation and evaluation with other specialists, such as gastroenterologists, urologists, surgeons, gynecologists and any other specialist relevant to the condition.
“Treatment options for CAP can be conservative treatment with just medications,” Dr. Prasad said. “When medication alone fails to provide relief, procedural treatments may be considered including injections to block nerves. For resistant cases, the doctor may even consider spinal cord stimulation or pain pumps.”
Procedures such as nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, and pain pumps do not require hospitalization and are often performed on an out-patient basis. Most are done under sedation so the patient does not experience any discomfort associated with the procedure.