Pain that emanates from the left lower part of the abdomen may indicate a spectrum of conditions. Careful assessment on the characteristics of the pain and other associated symptoms are important in trying to determine the root cause of the condition.
Pain in Lower Left Abdomen is a general symptom which may indicate both acute and serious diseases, understanding what these conditions are and the presenting symptoms associated with it may help rule out if the pain in the left lower abdomen is caused by something serious or something that is manageable.
Causes of Left Lower Quadrant Pain
There are several reasons why a person may experience pain in the left lower abdominal area. The key to understanding the reasons behind the pain is to know the organs within the left lower abdominal area. Of course, knowing the organs within that area gives us a hint or an idea on the possible causes of the pain. Important organs located on the left lower quadrant include the following:
- The left ovary and Fallopian tubes for the females
- Parts of the sigmoid colon and descending colon
- Lower part of the ureter or the passageway of urine from the bladder
- Parts of the small intestine
- Vermiform appendix
Causes of abdominal pain in the left lower area may be due to disease conditions affecting the above organs. As said earlier, this type of pain is a general symptom of a spectrum of conditions, so when a person experiences lower abdominal pain on the left, the probable reasons could be the following:
Bowel obstruction is a condition where the bowels or the intestines become obstructed with intestinal contents (impacted feces, etc.), foreign objects, or tumors. The obstruction can occur anywhere in the bowels (right, middle, or left), if the obstruction is located on the left lower part, then left lower pain in the abdomen is experienced.
Another possible cause is colon cancer. The growth of a cancerous tumor on the lower part of the ascending colon or parts of the sigmoid colon may cause significant pain.
Crohn’s disease is included under the inflammatory bowel disease category, this condition is characterized by chronic inflammation of the descending or sigmoid colon. The inflammation causes abdominal pain, which can be mostly felt on the left lower area.
This condition is the common cause of abdominal pain for adults older than 60 years. Diverticulitis is characterized by the “outpouching” of the intestinal wall, creating finger like projections. This usually causes pain a nagging pain felt mostly on the left lower abdomen (because the condition mainly affects the sigmoid colon).
This is a type of pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus and in the woman’s fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis involves the growth of uterine tissues (tissues supposedly from the womb) outside the uterus and into other parts such as the fallopian tubes, bladder, and cervix.
Ovarian tumors or cancer
Involves the growth of a tumor or cyst (whether benign or cancerous) in the ovaries, which impede the organs, causing significant pain in the left lower abdominal area.
Sigmoid Volvulus or Transverse colon volvulus
This condition involves the twisting of the bowels, causing obstruction and pain.
Excess gas or gas that is trapped within the large intestines can cause both lower and upper abdominal pain. Trapped gas stretches the intestinal walls and this stretching causes the abdominal pain.
A syndrome caused by occluded hepatic veins.
Kidney stones or kidney infections
Causes of Pain in the Left Lower Abdomen in Men
Left abdominal pain among men may be caused by the following:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
IBS involves abdominal pain, gas pain and alternating episodes of constipation coupled with severe diarrhea. This pattern usually indicates IBS. IBS can also happen to women and is not only limited to men.
This condition involves the inflammation of the seminal vesicles; this condition is caused by an inflamed prostate or prostatitis. The seminal vesicles are located on the lower part of the abdomen, if the left part is inflamed, pain in the left lower abdominal could soon follow.
Causes of Left Lower Abdominal Pain in Women
In women, pain in the left lower abdominal area may be due to the following:
Ectopic pregnancy is a type of pregnancy that happens outside the womb. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes or the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Lower abdominal pain is the common symptom for ectopic pregnancy.
Ovarian Cyst or Tumor
Among women, left lower abdominal pain may be due to growth of a cyst or a tumor in the ovaries. Pain may be due to the size of the tumor impeding the ovaries and nearby organs or it may be due to a ruptured ovary. Intense left (or at times right) lower quadrant pain, coupled with fever, body weakness and changes in the menstrual cycle are associated symptoms.
Diagnosis for Left Lower Quadrant Pain
Left lower quadrant pain is considered a symptom, the diagnostic process does not focus on diagnosing this alone, and instead it focuses on diagnosing the clinical condition that causes it. Diagnosis may involve:
- Physical examination
- Abdominal ultrasound
- An MRI or a CT scan
Treatment for Left Lower Quadrant Pain
Treatment for left lower abdominal pain focuses on managing the primary cause.
For men with seminal vesiculitis, treatment focuses on:
- Giving analgesics for pain
- Giving anti-inflammatories to decrease seminal vesicle inflammation
For women with ectopic pregnancy and ovarian cyst or tumor:
- Surgery may be done to manage ectopic pregnancy and relieve pressure
- Ovarian cysts or tumors may also be removed through surgery
- Chemotherapy and cancer management if the tumor is found to be malignant