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Suffering from abdominal pain can be the result of numerous illnesses or conditions ranging from mild to serious. Typically a doctor needs more information about abdominal pain to form a diagnosis because abdominal pain can be indicated by various degrees of discomfort and generate from anywhere below the chest to the groin. When abdominal and back pain occur together, it may be a sign of a few common ailments such as gallstones, kidney infection, appendicitis, or it could be the sign of something more serious.
Pain that begins in the abdomen can radiate to the back, especially if the source of the discomfort or pain is coming from the side. For example, appendicitis, which is inflammation of the appendix caused by irritation or infection, is generally marked by pain in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. The appendix is located in the lower right and off to the side of the body. Pain can extend to the lower right of the back when the appendix is inflamed, causing simultaneous pain in the abdomen and back. Other symptoms of appendicitis include fever, constipation, as well as swelling and tenderness in the lower right abdomen.
Gallstones are another possible cause of abdominal and back pain. The gallbladder is located on the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the liver. Gallstones form in the gallbladder and can block the bile ducts, causing pain and discomfort in both the abdomen and up the right side of the back to the shoulder. Pain and discomfort associated with gallstones typically appears suddenly and sharply and gets progressively worse.
Similar to gallstones, kidney stones are small clumps of minerals and salts that form in the kidneys. They do not cause pain if they remain in the kidney or are small enough to pass unnoticed through the urinary tract, but larger stones that exit the kidney can cause severe pain. Both abdominal and back pain, as well as pain in the groin and when urinating, are symptoms of kidney stones. Nausea or vomiting and blood in the urine are also possible indications of kidney stones.
In addition to these common ailments, which require physical examination and visual inspection by a doctor for diagnosis and treatment, there are several other possible causes of simultaneous back pain and abdominal pain. Ectopic pregnancy, abdominal aneurysm, some types of cancer and many other chronic and acute conditions can cause similar symptoms.
To help a doctor better determine the cause of abdominal and back pain, patients need to be aware of when and where the pain started, how the pain would be described — sharp, stabbing, dull, stationary, etc. — and to what degree it has worsened or improved. Also be aware of and prepared to describe other symptoms, such as fever, nausea, vomiting, changes in stool, appetite, weight loss, and any other relevant information as well as medical history. The more information a doctor has, the better he or she can quickly form a diagnostic opinion. Sudden and severe pain as well as chronic or worsening symptoms should be addressed immediately.
A pinched nerve, depending on the location, can also cause back and side pain. I have had one in my lower back since I was 14 and it rears its ugly head every now and again.