Cramping at Lower Abdomen: Causes and Treatments

Cramping at lower abdomen is common but really annoying and excruciating. Find out its causes, accompanying symptoms and proper treatments here!

People often refer to the abdomen as their belly or stomach, and it is a part of the body that lies between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen may be divided into four parts for diagnostic purposes, and these are named the upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left quadrants.

Lower abdominal cramping or pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced, and it may be either in the lower right or in lower left side. There are many possible causes of lower abdominal pain, and the diagnosis may depend on the accompanying symptoms and location of the pain.

Symptoms of Lower Abdominal Cramping

Cramping in the lower abdomen may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Heaviness in the pelvis
  • Lower abdominal tenderness

Causes of Lower Abdominal Cramping

Lower Left Side Pain

The abdominal organs found in the lower left abdomen include a portion of the descending colon (large bowel), part of the small intestine, the spleen, the lower portion of the left kidney, the left ureter, ovary and fallopian tube, the urinary bladder and all the nerves, blood vessels muscles and skin in the left lower quadrant.

An abnormal condition in any of these organs may result in abdominal cramping in the left lower side, including:

  • Constipation
  • Colon cancer
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovulation
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Left kidney stones
  • Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Salpingitis
  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Left inguinal hernia
  • Ruptured spleen

Lower Right Side Pain

The organs found in the right lower side of the abdomen include the appendix, the ascending colon, part of the large intestine, the right ovary and fallopian tube, parts of the small intestine, the lower portion of the right kidney and the ureter. Pain in the right lower quadrant may be caused by:

  • Appendicitis
  • Right inguinal hernia
  • Right kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Mesenteric lymphadenitis (inflammation of the abdominal lymph nodes)
  • Colon cancer
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovulation (mittelschmerz)
  • Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Salpingitis
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Crohn's disease

Other Causes of Lower Abdominal Cramps

  • Trapped wind in the gut
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Strenuous exercise causing muscle pain
  • Prostatitis
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder)
  • Psoas abscess (infection in the psoas muscle)
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Diagnosis of Lower Abdominal Cramping

Sometimes the doctor can diagnose what causes cramping at lower abdomen from a patient's medical history and physical examination. However, he may also need to do some laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other possible conditions. These diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Abdominal x-ray
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Laparoscopy
  • Endoscopy

Treatment for Lower Abdominal Cramping

Many people experience mild cramping that may later go away on its own. Some mild symptoms are relieved with a few home remedies such as:

  • Taking a rest
  • Taking enough fluids
  • Going for a walk
  • Applying heat to the lower abdomen
  • Relaxing exercises and deep breathing
  • Doing yoga
  • Taking over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, antacids, or laxatives
  • Taking herbal tea
  • Eating rice, bananas, applesauce, and plain crackers 
  • Avoiding strenuous abdominal exercises
  • Avoiding coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages
  • Avoiding eating solid foods for a while

One should consider seeking medical advice when symptoms worsen or persist even after taking some home remedies. You should see a doctor immediately if you also have moderate to severe symptoms like persistent vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and high fever. Some of these conditions may be life-threatening, leading to conditions like ectopic pregnancy, ruptured spleen, or abdominal aortic aneurysm, which must be treated as emergencies.


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