Help me relax about abdominal pain.
March 9, 2013 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Help me relax about abdominal pain and possible heath problems.

Although abdominal pain questions abound, I'm gonna add mine in. I'm a 28 year old gal.

For the last couple of days, I have had pain in the lower right ad region. The pain is not sharp or stabbing or shooting, but more like a stitch you get from running. Sort of. It doesn't feel at all like a menstrual cramp. I notice it when I walk around or move but I feel mostly fine when sitting or lying down. When I push around, I can't find an exact place that it hurts most, just a general area.

I have had two other instances of similar pain: once last April, which lasted a couple hours, and once last August, which lasted two days.

I went in to Urgent Care this afternoon, just to be safe. The doc (actually an NP) ruled out pregnancy and bladder infection. He said that possible causes are appendix or ovary related, and to make an appointment ASAP for a scan or ultrasound (appointment set for Monday). He pushed on my gut and stretched my legs all around and punched my foot. It was kind of exciting.

It's only a 2 day wait, but I'm kind of freaking out. I was told to go right to the ER if I throw up, feel nauseous, develop a fever, etc. Has anyone experienced appendicitis or had an ovary problem (I wonder if a cyst is what he was implying?) Does it sound like what I am experiencing? Can you help me relax until Monday after work?!
posted by sucre to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I had appendicitis when I was a kid. I remember it felt like I was wearing a belt that was way, way too tight. It wasn't stitch-like, it was more like a really bad gas pain, a cramp that wouldn't un-cramp. (That's how I recall it anyhow. It's obviously been a very long time.) Within a day or so it reached a point where something was obviously wrong, I just knew I needed to see a doctor, there was no putting it off. If this is that (and again, it doesn't sound like it to me,) you'll know for sure before Monday.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:28 PM on March 9, 2013

I had a raging fever (103-105 F) when I had appendicitis. When I had an ovarian cyst that ruptured, I had no fever.

I am so sorry you are having pain. If you start running a fever or if the pain gets really severe, I would get to the ER.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:39 PM on March 9, 2013

It could be Mittelschmerz. I'm experiencing it right now. It happens during ovulation - and hurts right where ovulation is taking place.

I can take ibuprofen for it.

Nothing bad is happening, no damage being done. (As far as I've been told). It always happens when I'm ovulating on the right hand side --so basically every other month.

It's been happening for years.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:54 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

A long time ago I had what doctors assumed was a cyst which felt sort of like that. I mean, it went away on its own and I could not afford imaging at the time. (I also had, years later, what I assumed to be a previously asymptomatic cyst rupture, and that hurt badly for a while.)

If it's a cyst, it's unlikely to be a big deal or require invasive treatment. If it's appendicitis, which seems less likely - well, that's a very, very routine and almost minor surgery and you'll be up and around ("leaping like a goat!" as someone said in a novel I read as a kid) very quickly - a friend of mine just had an appendectomy and was back on his feet inside a couple of days.

Honestly, I've also had some mystery abdominal stuff that was probably stress or some variant on gastritis...and that went away on its own.

I don't know how old you are, but one of my life lessons (as a person with huge health anxiety) has been just how much life stuff is "oh, something hurt for a while, and then it got better".

I find it helpful when I'm anxious to say to myself "I am paying attention to how I feel, if it gets to [point] I will go to the ER; I have my cell phone right here and I can call someone for help if I need to". I also remind myself that virtually everyone has some kind of Medium-Sized Health Episode in their adulthood and gets better just fine. (Cysts, shingles, appendicitis, gallbladder stuff - that level of thing)
posted by Frowner at 4:08 PM on March 9, 2013

Can you help me relax until Monday after work?!
Like Frowner, I've had minor abdominal pains that tend to go away own their own. I have found that adjusting my attitude and awareness towards them can help them to be less unpleasant. Some specifics:
  • Sit comfortably, and pay attention on your breathing. You don't have to actively manage your breathing, but I've found it helpful to switch to abdominal breathing. This is where you "pull" down in your belly, rather than expand your chest to breath.
  • Try to adopt a neutral attitude towards the pain. Be aware of it, but don't be afraid of it. When I'm afraid of pain, I tend to tense up and that often makes it worse. When I'm aware of pain, the fear tends to go away and I can deal with just experiencing the pain.
  • Keep in mind that you have an appointment on Monday, and the ER option of things get really bad. If they are bad, pull the ER trigger!
  • Don't try to actively make the pain go away. The science here is a bit vague, but it seems that the body is capable of masking pain, and you really need that pain to help the doctors diagnose the problem. It is probably safer to maintain an awareness of your pain, but try to divorce that awareness from fear and unpleasantness. This may sound impossible or counterintuitive, but it is possible.

posted by b1tr0t at 4:59 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had lower-right abdominal pain. I thought my appendix was bursting. I made an appt with my primary care doc. She examined me and pronounced... constipation!

How embarrassing.

She said if I really had an appendix problem, I would be in a *lot* more pain. I really do eat a lot of veggies. No idea how I was getting "blocked up", but it seemed to pass pretty quickly. Live and learn.
posted by sarah_pdx at 8:11 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 24 and had an endometrioma/ovarian cyst last year. Two things, for context: 1) My gynecologist said my situation was not very common, and 2) My mother and my aunt had similar episodes in their 20s. My only advice for relaxing until Monday is: Don't research your symptoms too much online. If you ask the Internet "what's wrong with me," someone will always declare "IT'S FATAL" (and I really don't mean to be that alarmist person right now! I'm also not great at following my own advice. I probably read a couple hundred pages of Google results for 'abdominal pain' last year and it only made things worse)

The pain came on gradually. I would wake up in the middle of the night with what felt like really bad gas pains. Going to the bathroom would immediately make it much worse, and then it would subside about an hour later and come back the next day/when my bowels were full again. When the pain was there, standing or walking around made it somewhat better. It didn't hurt more or less when I applied pressure, it just hurt in that general area. I didn't have other symptoms of ovarian problems: Sex didn't hurt and my periods were regular. I had cramps during my period, but no worse than usual.

Doctors examined me, couldn't feel any masses, and based on my symptoms diagnosed me with IBS. It kept getting worse over 4-5 months and I started getting referred pain in my arm. Finally, a different doctor said it might be "grumbling appendicitis" (which I had never heard of) and sent me for an ultrasound. That revealed the cyst, which was 10cm at that point. I had it removed a week later and my symptoms haven't returned.

I really feel for you -- the worst part is not knowing. I hope you feel better and that it turns out to be no big deal. (I should also mention that even if it is an ovarian cyst, it doesn't necessarily require surgery. I had surgery because the growth was large and eclipsing my ovary/tube, and because they couldn't be certain it wasn't a tumor based on the ultrasound. Fun!)
posted by perryfugue at 8:17 PM on March 9, 2013

I had something like this is in my twenties as well, but a slew of tests run showed nothing and the doctors concluded that it may be endometriosis. It has not come back since I got pregnant 6 years ago, so I am thinking that was it.

So try and relax until Monday, it could be what I had, or constipation, or a weird muscle need to add stress to it!
posted by lil' ears at 10:13 PM on March 9, 2013

Perryfuge is right about consulting Dr. Google. If you go looking for answers online, you will almost certainly find that all of your symptoms match up perfectly with some totally horrible disease. Save yourself the trouble, and try to have a relaxed weekend.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:28 PM on March 9, 2013

Thank you all so much, truly, for your thoughts. The pain diminished yesterday and this morning seems almost gone, which is relieving.

I am hoping it's Mittelshmerz- that would fit with the fact that I've had this a couple of other times. The timing of my cycle makes sense, too.

Thank you also for the lovely tips on stress-reducing; I can be a VERY anxious person and reminding myself to focus on the facts is really helpful. :)
posted by sucre at 9:34 AM on March 10, 2013

I had some really severe, sudden abdominal pain, which turned out to be an ovarian cyst. The pain was really bad for a few hours, but then receded to a low-level pain as I sorted out GP visits and ultrasounds over the next few days. It turned out to be a 9 cm ovarian cyst. The first gynaecologist I saw suggested surgery ASAP, but I got a second opinion advising me to wait 6 weeks and have another ultrasound.

I decided to wait, and by the 4 week mark (I wussed out and had the second scan early) the cyst had shrunk to 4cm. At 8 weeks it was gone. In young, otherwise healthy women, certain kinds of ovarian cyst can be physiological and just go away on their own. So if that's what's up with you, you might want to consider asking your doctor if the type of cyst you have could be physiological. For me, waiting and avoiding the surgery was a million times better--financially, physically, etc.

Over the first 4 weeks of waiting for a second scan, I carried a copy of my earlier ultrasound report--the one problem is that ovarian cysts can twist (aka ovarian torsion) and that is really bad. I was under instructions to head to the ER if I had any more episodes of severe pain. Waiting those 4 weeks sucked, but I tried not to think about it too much, didn't Google, and just got on with my life, with an ibuprofen or two when necessary. All of that "if X, Y, or Z, go to the ER!" talk is not used most of the time; it's about caution to make sure that those few cases do get caught. So try not to take the worst-case scenario to heart.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:36 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had abdominal pain many times and it was always nothing. I am also a 28-year-old gal. After the ultrasound, you will feel better.

The urgent care people, in my experience, aren't really that great at being able to rule things out. More so, they are there to say "Here is your problem." He was warning you of anything that would be signs of something serious, because that's probably what he's trained to look for, but I doubt he noticed anything that made him suspect it was serious. Do you have a real doctor? I'm assuming you have health insurance if you're rushing off to get an ultrasound. In which, you need to get a real GP.

Just relax. You're probably completely fine. People get pain sometimes. I think that's pretty normal.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:49 AM on March 10, 2013

Yup, I have a real doctor. I really appreciate having urgent care available on the weekends, though. My main reason for going in was to see if I needed to make an appointment (I'm a teacher and it can be a hassle to make appointments during the week- luckily I have one after work) and to see what they could tell me, in general. Just going in eased my mind (and the $30 co-pay is worth it, to me). Sometimes it's nothing and sometimes it's something. Thanks for the reassurance!
posted by sucre at 11:01 AM on March 10, 2013

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