What Causes Stomach Pains?

Reviewed on 5/16/2022
Man with stomach pain wincing and grabbing his stomach
Causes of stomach pains include acute cholangitis, acute cholecystitis, gallstones, gastritis/gastropathy, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastroparesis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer disease, ruptured spleen, acute appendicitis, diverticulitis, kidney stones, cystitis, cancer, celiac disease, constipation, food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), lactose intolerance, and others.

Stomach pains (abdominal pains) can range from mild aches to severe and sharp, stabbing pain. 

There are many possible causes of stomach pains. The causes of stomach pains can be grouped by the area of the abdomen in which the pain occurs. 

Causes of stomach pains in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen include: 

Causes of stomach pains in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen are often related to the spleen and include: 

  • Splenic abscess 
  • Splenic infarction 
  • Splenic rupture 
  • Splenomegaly 

Causes of stomach pains in the lower abdomen that are felt on just one side include:

Causes of stomach pains in the lower abdomen that may be felt on one or both sides include:

Causes of stomach pains that have nonspecific or variable patterns of pain (called diffuse pain) include:

Causes of abdominal pains in females include: 

Causes of abdominal pains in postoperative patients include: 

  • Hematoma/seroma formation and nerve injury 
  • Postoperative ileus 
  • Surgical site infections

How Are Stomach Pains Diagnosed?

The cause of stomach pains is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with tests such as: 

  • Blood tests
    • Complete blood count (CBC) with differential
    • Electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glucose
    • Calcium
    • Aminotransferases, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin
    • Iron, total iron binding capacity, and ferritin
    • Lipase and/or amylase
    • Anti-tissue transglutaminase
    • Pregnancy testing for women
  • Imaging tests 
  • Other tests 
    • Stool testing
    • Urine testing
    • Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG)

What Is the Treatment for Stomach Pains?

Treatment for stomach pains varies widely and depends upon the cause.

Treatment for stomach pains may involve:


Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

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Reviewed on 5/16/2022
Image Source: iStock Images