Abdominal Tenderness

What is abdominal tenderness?

Abdominal tenderness, which can also be called, abdominal point tenderness occurs whenever pressure on a particular part of your abdomen causes you pain. It usually comes with feelings of soreness and tenderness. There is another part to this, more like an exact opposite phenomenon and it is called Blumberg sign, otherwise called rebound tenderness. In Blumberg sign, pain is felt in the abdomen when there is a removal of pressure. Can you spot the difference and similarity in the two?  Removal or application of a stimulus, which is pressure, causes the same response – pains – in the two instances.

Alright, let us move on with our choice article today – Abdominal tenderness and its causes.

Let us look at some of the common causes of abdominal tenderness. Before I go ahead with this, I want you to note that point tenderness is often a sign of inflammation of one or more internal organs around the abdomen.  The sudden pressure which is usually referred to as acute processes, on any abdominal organs can also induce pains. It shows there is an underlying medical emergency especially if the pains persist, that is, if it keeps reoccurring. It indirectly points to a problem in one or more organs located in the abdominal region.  For instance, abdominal abscess, diverticulitis, Meckel’s diverticulum, ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), etc. are often associated with point tenderness.

McBurney point is the most common type of abdominal tenderness and it usually is an indication of an inflammation in the pelvis. This is usually diagnosed from the region of the right lower quadrant.

You should, therefore, see it as an emergency to visit a doctor for further investigation.


Abdominal Tenderness

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Common conditions that can cause point tenderness in women to include:

A ruptured ectopic pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is seen when a fetus chooses to form outside the mother’s womb. Can you imagine this baby? But really, this is a life-threatening situation for the mother especially when the fluid-filled sac containing the fetus bursts.

An inguinal hernia: this is a state caused when a particular spot in muscles holding the intestine or abdomen becomes weak. This results in by the bursting of the membrane.

Ruptured ovarian cyst: Cysts can coexist with the follicles in the ovaries. When they burst, pains can also burst in the abdomen

Twisted fallopian tube: this occurs when the fallopian tubes twist on the tissues surrounding them

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs, often the complication of several kinds of STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea

These conditions are all linked with some sort of inflammation. Inflammation causes swelling, which creates pressure inside the abdomen and results in tenderness.


Symptoms of abdominal tenderness

Symptoms associated with abdominal tenderness include; abdominal pain, distended abdomen, nausea, appetite loss, fainting, vomiting, nausea, bloating, constipation, fever, diarrhea, jaundice, pale stools, missed periods etc.


Diagnosis and tests for abdominal tenderness

Upon seeing a doctor, your abdomen will be examined. Different regions based on the different organs located within the abdomen will be checked. These regions and the organs located there are; right lower quadrant (appendix), left lower quadrant (final segment of the colon or digestive tract), left upper quadrant (stomach and duodenum), and right upper quadrant (liver and gallbladder).

  1. Abdominal ultrasound: it is otherwise called pelvic ultrasound. This ultrasound takes images of the organs of the abdomen by using sound waves. It is non-invasive. Ectopic pregnancies, hernias or cysts can be detected thus.
  2. Abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan: Here, high-resolution images of abdominal organs are taken using X-rays. It is also non-invasive.
  3. Abdominal X-ray: X-rays are used to check abdominal organs.  Abdominal irregularities can be diagnosed thence.
  4. C-reactive protein test: it is a blood test used to confirm the presence of an inflammation. It is usually positive when an inflammation is present.
  5. Complete blood count (CBC):  when this test is carried out, an elevated leucocyte, also known as white blood cell count, informs that there is an underlying inflammation

Serum progesterone test: it diagnoses ectopic pregnancy using progesterone level in the blood as a yardstick.


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