What are stomach cramps?

“Stomach cramps” is a general term that refers to sharp, intermittent contractions or feelings of pain or discomfort that occur anywhere in the abdomen between the lower chest and the pelvis or groin. The abdomen consists of many organs, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, esophagus, and numerous blood vessels.

Stomach cramps are a common symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions that are often related to the abdominal organs and sometimes the pelvic organs, such as the uterus and bladder. Most people will experience stomach cramps at some point during their lifetime, and they can occur in any age group or population. Common causes of stomach cramps include indigestion, gastroenteritis, menstrual cramps, bladder infection, and excessive flatulence (gas).

Stomach cramps may be generalized, which means they occur throughout the abdomen. Stomach cramps may also be localized in a small area of the belly, such as the lower abdomen or pelvis near the groin, or in the upper abdomen where the stomach is located.

Depending on the cause, stomach cramps can last for a few minutes or hours, such as when they occur from indigestion due to eating rich food or from vigorous exercise. Stomach cramps can also last for a few days, such as when they are due to a menstrual period. Long-term stomach cramping may be continuous or occur periodically and may be due to more serious conditions, such as colorectal cancer.

In some cases, stomach cramps may be caused by serious conditions, such as food poisoning or colorectal cancer. Seek prompt medical care if your stomach cramps are unexplained, persistent, or cause you concern.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911)

if you, or someone you are with, have stomach cramps during pregnancy, or stomach cramps that occur with vomiting blood, bloody stools, dizziness, abdominal distention, fainting, severe shortness of breath, or yellowing of the skin (jaundice). These can be symptoms of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that requires emergency care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with stomach cramps?

Stomach cramps may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. If you have other symptoms along with stomach cramps, be sure to inform your health care provider. This information will help your doctor diagnose the reason for your stomach cramps.

Digestive symptoms that may occur with stomach cramps

Stomach cramps may ... Read more about stomach crampssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes stomach cramps?

Stomach cramps can be caused by infection, malignancy (cancer), inflammation, trauma, obstruction, and other abnormal processes. Relatively mild conditions such as indigestion and stress can cause stomach cramps. At the other end of the spectrum, life-threatening conditions such as trauma, appendicitis, and colorectal canc... Read more about stomach crampscauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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