Abdominal pain is pain that occurs in the abdominal area, which is from just below the ribs down to the pelvic area. Upper abdominal pain is situated just below the ribs and can arise from a number of causes.
Depending on its causes, the symptoms of upper abdominal pain can include a short stabbing pain that comes and goes, a feeling of cramping, a dull lingering pain or the familiar pain we call simply "stomach ache."
There are many causes of upper abdominal pain, the most prevalent being gastrointestinal distress caused by an ulcer or malfunction of the gall bladder. The pain may arise from swelling of tissue, excess stomach acid or a digestive blockage.
Diagnosing upper abdominal pain involves seeing a doctor who will conduct a tactile examination of the abdominal area to isolate the pain, and ask questions about the specific type of pain, such as its severity, time of onset and other factors.
Other Diagnostic Techniques
In the event an office exam is insufficient to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain it may be necessary to see a specialist such as a gastroenterologist. Additional diagnostic tests may be conducted, including blood work, X-rays, ultrasound or CAT scan.
Seeing a Physician
If abdominal pain is severe or long-lasting, see a physician. Once diagnosed, most abdominal problems can be treated effectively.