Pain in the lower left abdomen may result from gas, but it can also be a sign of a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a hernia. Treatment for lower left abdominal pain will depend on the underlying cause.
People experiencing persistent or chronic pain in the lower abdomen should seek medical attention. Sudden onset of severe pain in the lower left abdomen may require immediate medical care.
This article discusses possible causes of lower left abdominal pain, treatments, and when to contact a doctor.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
There are several possible causes of lower left abdomen pain. Some causes are more common and benign, while others can be serious and require medical attention. Often, a person might use the term stomach pain interchangeably with abdominal pain, but pain in the abdomen can come from other organs besides the stomach.
Lower left abdominal pain caused by diverticulitis may feel sudden and severe but can also start mild and worsen over several days. Other symptoms include:
Diverticulitis can cause serious complications without treatment, so people should consult a doctor if they have any of the above symptoms.
Celiac disease is a chronic condition
When a person has celiac disease, eating gluten triggers their immune system to attack portions of the intestine, causing various digestive issues. Without treatment, celiac disease can cause long-term damage to the small intestine.
Symptoms of celiac disease
A person should speak with a doctor if they think they may have celiac disease. If they receive a diagnosis, a person will need to avoid gluten to prevent symptoms.
Typically, gas is not a cause for concern and will pass out of the body through either the mouth or anus. Causes of gas include:
- digesting foods that are prone to releasing gas
- swallowing air
- chewing gum
- excessive eating
- undigested foods
- certain bacteria in the stomach
- health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
People can speak with a doctor if symptoms of gas are bothering them, they have a sudden change in symptoms, or they have additional symptoms, including abdominal pain.
A person who is lactose intolerant has difficulty digesting milk and milk-based products, such as cheese and yogurt. This is because they
People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest all the lactose from food and drink. Unabsorbed lactose passes into the colon, where bacteria break it down to create gas and fluid. This increase in fluid and gas can cause symptoms such as:
- pain in the abdomen
- loose stool or diarrhea
Inflammatory bowel disease
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions that can cause painful inflammation anywhere in the digestive tract. The
Crohn’s disease is most common in the small intestine, and ulcerative colitis occurs in the large intestine.
There is no clear cause of IBD, but it occurs due to a weakened immune system. Genetics may also play a role.
Pain in the abdomen is a typical symptom of IBD.
In most cases, indigestion is mild and does not cause complications. Symptoms of indigestion
- a burning sensation
- slight pain or discomfort in the abdomen
- uncomfortable fullness after eating a meal
People may wish to try over-the-counter indigestion relief medications.
If people have other symptoms alongside indigestion, it may indicate a more serious condition. People will need to consult a doctor if indigestion lasts longer than 2 weeks or if they also experience:
- black, tarry stools
- blood in vomit or persistent vomiting
- unexplained weight loss
- severe or constant pain in the abdomen
- difficulty swallowing
- pain in the chest, jaw, neck, or arm
- shortness of breath
The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Once a person has had chickenpox, the virus
Vaccines are available to help reduce the risk of a person developing shingles later in life.
- abdominal pain
- changes in bowel movements
- constipation or diarrhea
Changes to the nerves and muscles relating to the gut can cause IBS. Stress and anxiety may worsen the condition, so relaxation and regular exercise can help. People may also with dietary changes, increasing dissolvable fiber intake, and avoiding foods that trigger symptoms.
Different types of hernias can occur, and they vary according to the underlying cause. If people have symptoms of a hernia, they will need to contact a doctor to determine the type of hernia and the treatment they may require.
Symptoms of a hernia can include:
- a bulge in the abdomen or groin
- pain or aching in the hernia area
- pressure at the site of the hernia
- increasing discomfort when straining the abdomen
An inguinal hernia
Inguinal hernias can cause complications without treatment, so it is important to consult a doctor for a diagnosis as soon as possible. People will usually need surgery to repair an inguinal hernia.
Constipation occurs when a person cannot pass a stool, passes hard stools, or passes stools
It may occur due to limited exercise, fiber, or fluids. Certain medications or IBS can also cause constipation. People may treat constipation by improving their diet, exercising regularly, and increasing fluid intake.
The main symptom of constipation is difficulty passing stools and pain in the abdomen.
Abdominal pain is a typical symptom of kidney stones. These mostly occur due to calcium buildup and can form in either the right or left kidney.
A person may not realize they have a kidney stone until it causes issues, such as blocking part of the kidney or causing severe pain as it passes.
Learn more about the symptoms of kidney stones.
When a blockage occurs in the intestine, food
People with conditions such as IBD or colon cancer or who have had abdominal surgery may be more at risk of intestinal obstruction.
A person will need to contact a doctor straight away if they have these symptoms of intestinal obstruction:
- severe abdominal pain
- inability to pass stool
- swollen abdomen
- loud noises from the stomach
An ectopic pregnancy can occur if a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy progresses, this can cause the fallopian tube to burst, which can be life threatening.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:
Endometriosis is a
The main symptom of endometriosis is pain, which can include menstrual cramps, pain in the abdomen, and pain in the lower back and pelvis.
Hormone treatments, and in severe cases surgery, can help manage endometriosis symptoms.
To diagnose persistent or severe abdominal pain, a doctor can use various techniques to explore the possible causes and identify a course of treatment. These
- CT scans
- ultrasound imaging
- MRI scans
- physical examination
- endoscopy, in which a doctor inserts a tube with an attached light and camera down the throat and into the stomach, producing an image of the lower abdomen
Identifying certain abdominal issues may require repeat visits and close follow-ups.
Once a primary care physician makes a diagnosis, they may refer the individual to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, who will be able to provide more focused care.
The type of treatment will depend on the condition causing the pain. A person can speak with a doctor to determine suitable treatment for their condition.
Lower left abdominal pain due to an infection, such as diverticulitis, will often require medications and resting as treatment.
Other, more structural, issues, such as a hernia or an intestinal blockage, may require surgery.
Treatment for constipation and gas often includes basic dietary adjustments and, in severe cases, laxatives. For more chronic lower abdominal pain, such as the pain in IBS or IBD, more careful, long-term dietary management can help to manage symptoms.
Treatment for food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, often involves excluding that food from the diet.
People should speak with a doctor about any abdominal pain that is persistent or severe or if they have concerns about any symptoms. People will also need to consult a doctor if they have:
- blood in stools
- persistent diarrhea, constipation, or change in bowel movements
- unexplained weight loss
A doctor will need to examine chronic or persistent pain to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
Below are some commonly asked questions about lower left abdominal pain:
What organ is in the lower left abdomen?
The abdomen contains organs
Should I go to the ER for lower left abdominal pain?
Lower left abdominal pain does not always indicate anything serious. However, if the pain is severe and accompanied by other symptoms, it may require immediate medical care.
What is a sharp pain in the lower abdomen?
There are several possible causes of sharp pain in the lower abdomen, including diverticulitis, celiac disease, gas, and IBS.
What does trapped gas feel like?
Some people with trapped gas may experience an intense sharp stabbing pain, bloating, or a general feeling of discomfort in the abdomen.
People may experience lower left abdominal pain for various reasons. Some causes can be temporary, but the pain may be a sign of a chronic condition in other cases. People should speak with a doctor about any persistent or severe symptoms.
Treatments will depend on the underlying cause but may include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.