6 Causes of Left Abdominal Pain When Pressed.
Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.
Common causes of left abdominal pain when pressed include:
- Trapped gas in the left colon.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Food intolerances.
- Diverticular disease.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Celiac disease.
- Colorectal cancer.
- Left abdominal muscle strain.
- Chronic constipation.
- Fecal impaction.
- Splenic enlargement.
- Left ovarian or left fallopian tube pain (as cysts, tumors, PID).
- Painful kidney conditions such as stones and hydronephrosis.
1. Trapped Gas.
Mild pain in your left abdomen that appears only when pressed can be due to Trapped gas inside your intestine or colon. The trapped cause is a prevalent cause of abdominal pain, including in the left abdomen.
Intestinal gas is naturally formed from the fermentation of food and the action of bacteria inside your intestine and colon.
Even without excess gas, gas can form A (bubble) inside your small intestine or colon. When the localized gas is on the left side, It causes pain, bloating, and tenderness when pressed.
Moreover, People commonly experience excess gas production due to various causes, often leading to bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain anywhere in their abdomen (including the left).
Causes of excess intestinal Gas:
- Excess eating of Gass-producing foods such as beans, onions, and green leafy vegetables. The Complete List of gassy foods is HERE.
- Diseases such as Irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, other types of food intolerance and allergy, SIBO, etc.
- Excessive air swallowing.
- Taking while eating or drinking.
- Intestinal infections such as giardiasis.
- Some medications and systemic diseases such as diabetes.
Symptoms of intestinal gas:
- Abdominal pain: The pain can be all over your abdomen or localized in one area (as with left pain when pressed).
- Flatulence (farting).
- Symptoms of the original diseases include diarrhea, bloody stool, weight loss, etc.
2. Colon Diseases.
A. Irritable Bowel syndrome.
The hallmark of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is recurrent abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
IBS pain can be abnormally sharp. Typically, it is diffuse, but it can localize in the left stomach area in a minority of patients (See this interesting article about the typical and atypical IBS pain locations.
B. Food intolerance.
We define food intolerance as difficulty digesting or absorbing certain types of food. Food intolerance is shockingly common. According to research estimates, about 15-20% of people have some degree of food intolerance (reference).
Food intolerance is one of the important causes of getting intermittent diarrhea.
- It is widespread.
- Diarrhea is related to the ingestion of the offending food. So, diarrhea occurs intermittently (on and off) depending on what you eat.
You can develop intolerance either to one or multiple types of food. Here are some common examples:
1- Lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk and other dairy products.
2- Caffeine intolerance (in coffee, chocolate, etc.).
3- FODMAP intolerance (a group of short-chain carbohydrates that ferment rapidly inside your intestine and may cause random diarrhea). Most people with irritable bowel syndrome are intolerant to FODMAPs.
4- Fructose intolerance (present mainly in honey and fruits).
5- Gluten intolerance (celiac disease).
6- Other types of food intolerance, such as alcohol intolerance, amines, sulfites, eggs, etc.
C. Diverticular disease.
Diverticulae are sac-like projections in the wall of the colon. They are widespread in Asians.
Diverticular disease is common, and its incidence increase with age. About 60% of people older than 60 have diverticula in their colon.
Eventually, one or more diverticula inflame, form abscesses, or even perforate. As a result, severe sharp stomach pain occurs. The left lower stomach is the most common site of diverticulitis pain (reference).
Other symptoms include blood in stool, fever, and changes in bowel habits. Finally, it is worth mentioning that diverticular disease can cause pain in the left lower stomach without inflammation (diverticulitis) (reference).
- When to Go to the Hospital for Diverticulitis?
- Diverticulitis 101: Symptoms, Treatment, & what to eat.
D. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Inflammatory bowel disease is characterized by unexplained inflammation and ulceration of:
- The colon only (ulcerative colitis).
- The entire gastrointestinal tract (Crohn’s disease).
According to the CDC, about 1.3% of adults (around 3 million) reported being diagnosed with IBD (reference).
Sigmoid or left colon ulcerative colitis can cause sharp left stomach pain.
Symptoms of IBD:
- Persistent diarrhea.
- Mucus and/or blood in the stool.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Sharp abdominal pain: can occur at any site, including the lower left abdomen.
- Generalized fatigue.
- Unexplained weight loss and sometimes unexplained fever.
D. Celiac disease.
Celiac disease is the most extreme form of food intolerance. It affects about 1% of people (reference).
Celiac disease is an intolerance to a protein found in wheat, rye, and barely. The protein is called Gluten.
3. Abdominal Muscle Strain.
Trauma or strain to your left abdominal wall muscles can cause pain when you press on the affected area. This is a very important cause of such a complaint.
Symptoms of abdominal muscle strain (in the left stomach area):
- Sharp pain (usually starts suddenly at the moment of strain and continues).
- Fixed in intensity, increases significantly by moving, bending, or straining.
- It may affect your walking or movements in general.
- Sometimes, you may experience swelling or bruising at the site of strain.
4. Left Kidney diseases.
- The most common cause of renal colic is kidney stones, affecting about 5-15% of people (reference).
- Insertion or removal of ureteric stents (double J stents) in patients with ureteric obstruction.
- Acute papillary necrosis is the death of the kidney’s papillary part, often due to severe infection or diabetes.
- Severe kidney infection or infection of the obstructed kidney (pyelonephritis).
- Renal abscess.
- Renal artery stenosis or renal vein thrombosis.
- Kidney trauma or hematoma.
- Other less common causes include ureteropelvic junction obstructions, prostatic enlargement, abdominal or pelvic cancer blocking the ureter, and retroperitoneal fibrosis. However, these cases rarely result in acute renal colic (sharp stomach pain on the left side).
Characteristics of kidney and ureteric pain:
- Sudden onset of sharp stomach pain on the left side (left flank pain).
- The pain resulting from the kidney is often dull and constant, while the pain from the ureteric spasms is very sharp and stitching in character.
- The episode of ureteric pain often starts at the left side of your stomach (left abdominal pain) which may radiate to the left lower abdomen and the left groin.
- The pain intensity is very high and lasts for several minutes.
- Nausea, vomiting and fainting may also occur during the episode of pain.
- No position or posture will relieve the pain. Also, moving doesn’t increase the intensity of pain.
- Dysuria (burning urination), altered color or urine (turbid or reddish urine), and severe urination urgency occur.
- Some may pass the stones in the urine or the toilet.
5. Splenic Disease.
The spleen lies in the left upper quadrant of your abdomen. Many conditions affecting the spleen can result in left stomach pain.
The most common splenic condition is the enlargement of the spleen. It occurs due to various causes, such as infections and blood diseases. However, the pain from an enlarged spleen is often dull and not sharp or severe.
Sharp pain in the left stomach due to the spleen can result from:
- Acute infections and splenic abscesses.
- Splenic infarction (The death of a part of the whole spleen). Infarction often occurs due to the obstruction of the blood supply.
- Splenic rupture: most often occurs due to trauma and road traffic accidents.
A. Female-only Causes.
Such as left ovarian cysts, inflammation of the fallopian tube (salpingitis), and Premenstrual syndrome.
B. Your Lower Ribs, Lung, Pleura:
Such as trauma to the rib cage, inflammation of the lung lining (pleurisy), and intercostal muscle strain.
C. Fecal Impaction.
A hard stool mass in the last part of the colon. It is a complication of severe constipation, especially in the debilitated elderly.
D. Psychological Causes.
Stress and anxiety can cause unexplained abdominal pain. It can also contribute to more severe conditions such as fibromyalgia.