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The Causes of Lower Left Abdominal Pain

Dr Stephen Wangen
June 4, 2024

Lower left abdominal pain is relatively common, and it’s usually related to your colon. We’ll explain why that is, what the most common cause of lower left abdominal pain is, and what to do about it.

Lower left quadrant abdominal pain is a frequent complaint at our clinic, and a particular specialty of ours. There are a variety of causes, so let’s get started.

The lower left side of your abdomen is the location of your descending colon, which then connects to your rectum on that side. For women it’s also the area of the left ovary. And for everyone it’s the area where your left kidney is connecting to your bladder.

Then it follows that the major causes of pain the lower left part of the abdomen are disorders in the colon, infections and diseases of the urinary tract, and issues the impact the ovaries and potentially even the testicles, such as testicular torsion.

Therefore, you need to have these areas evaluated and various issues ruled out by your doctor. Common blood and urine tests will help a little, but most conditions that affect these areas cannot be seen on blood and urine tests. They can find a urinary tract infection, but probably won’t help you with much else.

For most major digestive problems, you will likely need to have a colonoscopy.  And for most conditions affecting the kidneys and the reproductive organs, you may need and an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI of the abdomen in order to rule out many of the issues that can cause lower left abdominal pain.

And if you have endometriosis, even these imaging tests may not be helpful. Your gynecologist will help you figure this out, but it can be tricky to find even for them.

Also, in rare cases appendicitis occurs in the lower left side of the abdomen, but this is only if you happen to be one of the people whose appendix is not on the right side of the abdomen, where it is for vast majority of people.  

But what if you’ve seen doctors and had all of this ruled out, and they haven’t found anything significant?  No tumors, no cysts, no infections, no kidney stones, no ulcerations. Then what? What do you do next?

This is a very common problem. In fact, it’s the most common result for people with lower abdominal pain. That’s good news. Because it’s unlikely that you have cancer or anything else really serious.

And maybe they saw constipation or gas on those imaging studies, but that probably hasn’t solved your problem.

If nothing else is showing up, then what you have is IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. That is by far the number one cause of lower left abdominal pain.

Unfortunately, as you may know already, that diagnosis is not likely to help you. Because it’s not a solution, it’s a symptom. Most doctors only know how to diagnose IBS, but for the most part they don’t know how to treat it. They might see constipation or gas on a scan, but like IBS, that’s a symptom, not a cause.

IBS has many, many causes. And lower left abdominal pain caused by IBS has many, many causes, whether it involves constipation, diarrhea, gas, inflammation, all of the above, or none of the above.  IBS can even only involve the pain that you are experiencing and no other digestive symptoms.

What’s important to know is that gastroenterologists are great at ruling out other things, but they aren’t IBS specialists. Once you’ve had other things ruled out, you need to take over. You are the one who is in charge now. You will have to find the solution to your problem.

My guess is that you ended up here because you are looking for answers. I created the IBS Treatment Center to provide a place where people who have IBS can get the kind of expert help that IBS sufferers need. We work with people all over the US and abroad via telemedicine, and we’d love to help you too. Give us a call today at the number below if you’ve got lower left abdominal pain.

Related Content:

How To Deal With Foods That Trigger IBS Attacks

Why Do I Feel Better After My Colonoscopy?

How Do I Know If I Have IBS?  

Do You Need Anesthesia for a Colonoscopy


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