Digestive Diseases

Reasons for Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen

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"Reasons for Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen"
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Abdominal pain will happen to every single person at some point in their lives. For most people this pain is as simple as gas pains from a bloated belly, or a stomach ache from eating too much of the wrong thing.

Beyond these two common scenarios, there are a multitude of causes for abdominal pain. In order to narrow down the cause of abdominal pain, physicians determine the exact area of pain and consider the internal organs, musculature and nerve supply in that area.

The reasons for pain in the lower left abdomen, or "left lower quadrant" in medical lingo, can often be determined by the quality of the pain, circumstances surrounding its onset, and any associated symptoms.

For example, the sudden onset of severe pain, that is waxing and waning in the left lower quadrant of the abdomen and occurred after a jog, suggests ovarian torsion (the left ovary has twisted and it's blood supply is being compromised)

Listed below are the common, as well as not so common but potentially serious, reasons for pain in the lower left abdomen.


Diverticulitis as a cause of left lower belly pain is most common in elderly individuals with a history of chronic constipation or known diverticulosis. The diverticula, or out-pouchings of intestine, are common in the descending colon that is located in the lower left abdomen. When these diverticula get infected and inflamed, left lower abdominal pain will occur.

Ovarian cyst-

Ovarian cysts are a fairly common cause of pain in the lower left abdomen. For most women the cyst is simply a retained hemorrhagic cyst. This cyst occurs monthly in all menstruating women. It is the end result of the ovarian follicle that ruptured to release an egg. However, in some women the ruptured follicle doesn't dissipate like it should and a hemorrhagic ovarian cyst may persist, causing abdominal pain. Most ovarian cysts will resolve with time.


The term mittleschmerz refers to pain that occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle during ovulation. This pain will occur on either the right or left side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary is ovulating that month. Ovulation pain can be quite severe in some unfortunate women.

Ovarian torsion-

The ovary can get twisted and cut off its blood supply. This condition is a medical emergency. The ovary can die. Often the unilateral lower abdominal pain is severe, and comes and goes relentlessly while the ovary partially twists and untwists.

Inguinal hernia-

Both a direct inguinal hernia and indirect inguinal hernia are usually painless or at most create a dull aching sensation. The intestines bulge out through a weakness in the left (or right) abdominal wall. Often the bulge of intestines can be pushed back in. However, the intestines can get stuck in the abdominal wall and begin to die causing severe abdominal pain. This is called an incarcerated hernia and is a medical emergency.

Colon cancer-

The descending colon, located in the lower left abdomen, is a common place for colon cancer. The cancer itself is not painful. However, it can cause pain if it creates constipation or intestinal ulcerations. Colon cancer occurs more often in older individuals. Colon cancer screening should begin at age 50, or younger if family history or personal history places a person at high risk.

Irritable bowel syndrome-

The left lower abdominal pain of irritable bowel syndrome is often cramping in nature and is relieved after a bowel movement. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have alternating constipation and diarrhea or may have a constipation predominant IBS or diarrhea predominant IBS.

There are many other reasons for lower left abdominal: abdominal muscle strain, adhesions after an operation, shingles (herpes zoster) flare, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis), chronic constipation, infectious colitis, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, etc.

Most of the possible reasons for lower left abdominal pain are treatable, and several of these causes are of a rather urgent nature. The bottom line is that left lower quadrant pain is a type of abdominal pain that should be checked out by a physician.

More about this author: Nicole Evans M.D.

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