When to Worry About Abdominal Pain

You wake up in the morning with a sharp pain in your side.
After a filling lunch, your stomach starts to feel like it’s cramping up.
Today, your lower abdomen is in so much pain that you have to sit or lay down.

These are just some of the ways that abdominal pain might be interfering with your life. In the case of extreme pain in your midsection, it can be hard to tell when something is indigestion or a medical emergency. Keep reading to hear from Dr. Matt Young, one of Texarkana Emergency Center’s board members, about abdominal pain and when to seek emergency treatment for your pain.

When should I go to the ER with my abdominal pain?

“While no pain should be disregarded, there are a few guidelines to go by when determining when you need to seek help for abdominal pain,” said Dr. Young. “If the pain is severe, sudden, or interrupts your life, you can come right to Texarkana Emergency Center. If you are pregnant, if you have just finished eating, if your pain started out as all over, but then settled into one place—these are all reasons to come to the ER and get checked out. If you’ve been suffering for several hours and it isn’t going away, come in.”

As Dr. Young says, if your pain is interrupting your life, you should seek medical attention. If your abdominal pain comes with, or after some of the following conditions, you will want to seek out help as well:

  • Bleeding when pregnant
  • Vomited
  • Fever
  • Blood in stool
  • Dark colored or pink tinge to urine
  • Inability to urinate, have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Pain in other areas such as the neck, shoulder, or arm

How will my doctor diagnose my abdominal pain?

Diagnosing pain of any kind can be tricky, but Dr. Young says that there are some common questions a doctor might ask. “Diagnosing abdominal pain can be very difficult since there are so many things that could be causing it. You need to be prepared to work with the doctor in answering questions—” he says.

Your physician may ask you:

  • Where, exactly, is the pain located?
  • Has it moved locations?
  • Is it constant or intermittent?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • Describe it—is it a dull ache, a sharp pain, a throbbing pain, a stabbing pain, radiating down legs, etc.?
  • Does anything make it feel better?
  • Does it hurt to breathe, cough, sneeze?
  • Is there blood in the stool or discolored urine or vomiting?
  • Does the pain make you want to stay still or move?
  • Have you been sick?
  • Have you been traveling out of the country?
  • Medical history—any medical conditions? Past surgeries? Medications?

Your physician will also check for fever when you come in, and might perform a physical exam to look for inflammation and better understand where and how you are hurting.

What tests might be needed to diagnose my abdominal pain?

Your physician may order additional tests before they can determine your diagnosis. Some of the most common tests ordered are ultrasounds, blood tests, and urinal tests. “Texarkana Emergency Center’s modern facility is equipped with many different kinds of testing equipment,” Dr. Young says with pride. “We have a rapid results lab, which can be a major factor in getting a quick diagnosis.”

What causes abdominal pain?

There are a myriad of causes for bad abdominal pain, and as Dr. Young already discussed, they can be hard to diagnose. But there are some conditions which have abdominal pain as a key symptom:

  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallstones blocking bile duct
  • Hepatitis – swelling liver
  • Ulcers
  • Diverticulitis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney infection
  • Bladder infection
  • Hernia
  • Food poisoning
  • Cancer
  • Gynecological conditions
  • Cysts
  • Abscesses

What treatments are there for abdominal pain?

“Your treatment will depend on what is wrong,” says Dr. Young. “If it is something like appendicitis, a cyst or a hernia, then surgery will likely be needed. If it is a condition such as diverticulitis or ulcers, we could be able to manage it with medications and lifestyle changes. Infections can be treated with medications. Food poisoning may not need any intervention, except perhaps IVs if dehydrated. It really just depends on what we’re dealing with.”

The physicians at Texarkana Emergency Center are ready with the latest in emergency healthcare technology, to help you with your abdominal pain. If you’ve been suffering from acute pain for a while, or have just begun to experience sudden abdominal pain, Texarkana Emergency Center is committed to your health. Our physicians will explain your diagnosis to you, to make sure that you understand what has caused your pain.


Dr. Matt Young2Dr. Matthew Young has been practicing Emergency Medicine in East Texas for over 16 years. Dr. Young is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine by the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He studied and received his training at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Young has served as the Medical Director of Emergency Services at both local hospitals.

Dr. Young has been the Medical Director for LifeNet, Inc. for more than a decade. Dr. Young is happily married to his wife of many years, Cindy. They have two sons, Logan and Garrett. Dr. Young is the son of Dr. Mitchell and Donna Young. Dr. Mitchell Young practiced general surgery in the area for over 40 years.


Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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