Lower Left Abdominal Pain – Causes and Possible Treatments

Lower Left Abdominal Pain - Causes and Possible Treatments
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If you experience a lower left abdominal pain, it is probably a source of nuisance in your life. Perhaps it might be of some comfort for you to know that you are not alone. A pain in the lower left side of the abdomen is quite common, especially for women, and the pain is sometimes paired with lower left back pain as well. Pain in the lower left side of the abdomen is sometimes called left lower quadrant pain (LLQ pain) and in this article I’ll look at possible causes for this pain.

Lower Left Abdominal Pain – Causes

Constipation

Constipation is one of the causes of a left lower quadrant pain. Family practitioner, Dr. Melinda Ratini, suggests that constipation might be the cause for abdominal pain as well as swollen abdomen.1

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Often constipation comes with some distinct symptoms, mainly pain when passing stools, hard or small stools and a sense that not everything came out.

The causes for constipation can vary, but the main reasons are stress, irregular diet and consuming a lot of white flour, processed products and fried food.

If you are looking for ways to relieve constipation, please read my article about the best home remedies to relieve constipation.

Diverticulitis

According to Mayo Clinic, diverticulitis is one of the common causes for a lower left abdominal pain (LLQ pain).2

Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive system. It occurs when small, bulging pouches called diverticula form in the lining of the digestive tract and become infected. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, fever, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation.

The cause of diverticulitis is not entirely known, but several factors may contribute to it such as a low fiber diet, aging, physical inactivity, smoking, certain medications including steroids and NSAIDs, family history and obesity.

For more information please read my article about the best home remedies for diverticulitis.

Urinary System

If your lower left abdominal pain is paired with pain during urination and a continuous urge to urinate, then you might be suffering from a urinary system-related problem.2

Because the urinary system includes different organs, there are various possible explanations.

Kidney stones

The first possible cause for your LLQ pain is kidney stones, so a lower left pain in your abdomen might be an indicator of stones in your left kidney.2

Kidney stones are quite common and usually affect people aged 30–60 years of age. A kidney stone is a solid mass made up of tiny crystals formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals in the urine.

Kidney stone pain comes on in sharp, painful waves. Other symptoms of kidney stones are blood in the urine and it’s worth noting that kidney stones are also one of the reasons for leukocytes (white blood cells) in urine. If you suffer from kidney stones, you may want to try these natural treatments for kidney stones as well as apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Kidney infection

The second possibility is kidney infection (pyelonephritis) which is a specific type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that generally begins in your urethra or bladder and travels up into your kidneys.2

If your lower left abdominal pain is caused by kidney infection, then you must seek prompt medical attention. If not treated properly, a kidney infection can permanently damage your kidneys or the bacteria can spread to your bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection.3

Reproductive System Causes

Chances are that at some point in life, you will develop some reproductive system pains.

For women, some of the causes of lower left abdominal pain include:

Mittelschmerz

Some women experience lower abdominal pain during their period when ovulation occurs. This is called mittelschmerz (a German word meaning “middle pain”).

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Mittelschmerz is sometimes referred to as “ovulation pain” or “mid-cycle pain.” And it’s also one of the causes of ovary and lower pelvic pain as well as lower abdominal pain in women.

Dr. Frederick Gaupp on eMedicineHealth says that the lower abdominal pain happens because blood irritates the lining of the abdominal cavity. The pain can happen on either side of the lower abdomen and you could have a lower left-sided abdominal pain every second month when the left ovary produces an egg.4

Doctors recommend that women track their menstrual cycle to see exactly when the pain happens. You should mention your findings to your gynecologist during your next visit.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts can also cause abdominal pain (as well as other symptoms).

An ovarian cyst, in its simplest form, is a fluid-filled sac found in or on your ovaries. Most women produce at least one cyst each month, but they are painless and they disappear quickly.

Any extra mass on tissue causes pressure, and the body tries to alert us to this pressure through pain.

Dr. Sarah Marshall recommends seeing a doctor if you have started to experience painful periods in the last 3 to 6 months or if your periods have become more infrequent. Also, see your doctor if your pain interferes with your daily activities or during intercourse.5

Tubo-ovarian abscesses

A pocket of pus that forms during an infection of a fallopian tube and ovary is called a tubo-ovarian abscess. This medical issues requires immediate medical intervention and can only be detected by a physician.6

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is another condition which may lead to pain in the lower left side of the abdomen.2 Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis.

Seminal vesiculitis

As for males, a possible reproductive system cause of LLQ pain is seminal vesiculitis. Seminal vesiculitis is an inflammation of the seminal vesicles, most often secondary to prostatitis, although it may occur independently.  

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Appendicitis

Usually appendicitis pain starts in the middle of the abdomen and over a few hours the pain travels to the lower right-hand side of the abdomen. This is where the appendix is located. But there are rare cases where appendicitis causes a pain in the lower left side of the abdomen near the belly button. This is usually accompanied by a high fever, nausea, abdominal swelling and loss of appetite.

According to the journal of the Chinese Medical Association, appendicitis which causes LLQ pain can go unnoticed or undetected in some normal checkups until the case is critical and you realize that the left lower quadrant pain is too much to handle.7

It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you suspect appendicitis as the appendix can burst causing serious complications.

A ruptured appendix requires surgical intervention that often involves its removal.

Torn colon

A torn colon is likely to enrage your lower left abdomen, and requires serious medical attention.2 Nevertheless, it is always important to note the difference between the pain associated with colon and appendix, since they are both vaguely in the lower left abdomen area. There are many causes for torn colon, and these need to be checked by a doctor.

Bowel Related conditions

The list when it comes to bowel related conditions is so versatile that I need to specify different sub-categories with the potential symptoms that accompany them.

Crohn’s disease and/or ulcerative colitis will bring about other symptoms as acute abdominal pain (may or may not be in the lower left abdomen), as well as severe diarrhea, and possibly vomiting and rectal bleeding. Its progression is usually gradual and noticeable.

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On another note, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will have the pain accompanied with odd bowel movement and contractions. This is one of the more common conditions on this list, and unfortunately the irritation triggers vary from one person to another and take in a lot of physiological and psychological markers from the body. If you suffer from IBS, please refer to my article about the best natural treatments to relieve IBS.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus and begins to grow.

Ectopic pregnancy can cause sharp, crampy abdominal pain, usually in the lower abdomen (it often begins as a dull ache that progresses to spasms and cramps).

Ectopic pregnancy, might cause sharp pain in the lower left abdomen along with vaginal pain, syncope (temporary loss of consciousness), and hypotension (lower blood pressure).

The pain may be continual or intermittent, and it may worsen with movement, straining of bowels or coughing.

Ectopic pregnancy is a life threatening condition, and you need to seek a prompt medical attention.

Lower Left Side Abdominal Pain – Preventative Methods

Although there is a way to take preventative steps, eliminating the normal, not-disease related LLQ pain, there is a big possibility that the pain will develop if the cause is a disease.

The following list is not exhaustive and certainly applies to several medical conditions:

  1. Regular check-ups.
  2. Dietary changes (fiber and hydration intake, especially in the case of constipation-induced LLQ pain – see these natural remedies for constipation).
  3. Lifestyle changes (increased physical activity, regular sleeping patterns).

Lower Left Side Abdominal Pain – Therapeutic Tracks

Depending on the diagnosis, invasive and non-invasive methods are available when you experience a lower left abdominal pain.

According to Polly Gerber Zimmerman, RN, there is a way for physicians to try and narrow down possible causes of the lower left pain, summarized in the mnemonic PQRST:8

  • Provoke: What triggers the pain
  • Quality: What does the pain feel like
  • Radiation: Where does the pain radiate (reach out)?
  • Severity: Rate the pain on a scale of 1 – 10
  • Time and Treatment: How long have you had it? What has been done already?

Abdominal Pain – When to See a Doctor

Do not hesitate to seek medical advice anytime you feel pain.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience abdominal and back pain accompanied by a fever, bloody stool, persistent vomiting, inability to pass gas, vaginal bleeding (for women), dizziness or fainting.

Sudden, sharp and extreme abdominal pain should be investigated by a doctor right away and it is also one of the seven types of pain you should not ignore.

If you suspect pregnancy, and the pain is excruciating, then there is a possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and you need to consult a physician accordingly.

Read these related articles:
1. Seven Types of Pain You should Never Ignore
2. Stomach Pain after Eating – Causes and Natural Treatments
3. Early Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
4. Ovary Pain and Lower Pelvic Pain – 13 Possible Causes

Resources:
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