Severe upper abdominal cramping and pain

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DrCMI
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 5/20/2010 6:01 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all. I am amazed - and pleased - to have finally found this site, with so many stories that sound exactly like mine.

My pain tends to begin first thing in the morning with a feeling as if my stomach is empty or a tingling sensation. As soon as I feel this, I know what's coming. For the rest of the day the pain will build and build. Late at night the pain will usually reach the point where I can't sit still (I would rate it as a 7+), with my upper abdomen completely rigid for minutes at a time with just a few seconds of relief between each "contraction". The pain occasionally spreads across my back too. The pain continues to get worse and worse, eventually hitting a 10 (if it's not a 10, I would hate to feel pain that is 10!) with almost continuous muscle spasm and swelling of my upper abdomen - it looks like I have a balloon in there. It will stay this way for up to 6 hours, but by then I have eventually gone to A&E (I live in the UK) and been dosed up with IV morphine and IV buscopan. I cannot find the words to describe how severe this pain is. Morphine only just touches it and I have even begged the A&E nurses for an anaesthetic to knock me out so I can no longer feel it.

The pain used to come every couple of months since I was around 17 years old. I'm now 32 and am having an attack at least once per week, with after-effects of transient pain for several days. Needless to say I have visited numerous doctors, had multiple tests (ultrasound, CT, barium meal, gastroscopy, oesophageal function and pH, blood tests, bone mineral scans, etc.) with no abnormalities found, and have tried many different med's. I currently take baclofen (an inhibitor of skeletal muscle contraction), tramadol, and diazepam. A very high dose of diazepam with tramadol really helps to keep the pain at a just bearable level and I haven't needed to visit A&E for quite a while. But I am taking more and more medication to control the pain and I still haven't had a diagnosis - my gastroenterologist currently thinks it's severe muscle spasms of unknown origin.

I've never been able to find a trigger for the attacks. I have tried keeping food and daily diaries, but could find nothing specific that causes the pain. The only thing I have found that sets it off is tiredness and stress - I started my own company last year and since then the attacks have become much more frequent. I had to go to a conference in Barcelona last week and got up at 3am to get my flight. As such, I was tired and stressed about being at this important meeting on my own, and the pain was with me for the whole time I was away. Luckily, I could manage it with a few tramadol during the day as it built, but I had to miss dinner in the evening when it got really bad and I had to take all my med's.

The huge problem for me is that it is obvious that the doc's are getting frustrated and bored with seeing me. It feels as if they don't believe what I am telling them is true and that I am wasting their time or am just after pain-killers. The last time I vistied my GP to increase my dose of pain med's he recognised me and said "Oh...what is it THIS time?". They will never be able to understand how it feels to have this almost constant pain, to lose a couple of night's sleep every week due to pain, and spend the next day feeling with too drugged-up or sick to work (bearing in mind I own my own business, I work hard and long hours, and have a family to support). It also significnatly affects my quality of life - if I have pain I can't eat so miss out on a meal with my wife, I rarely feel like going out with friends, I've given up alcohol in case it's a trigger (we used to enjoy a glass or two of wine together), and whenever we go anywhere I need to make sure I have enough med's just in case of an attack. I suppose that the stress of worrying about attacks could, in fact, set them off.

Put simply, I've had enough of living like this. And I've got no idea what I can do about it.

I would really appreciate any suggestions that anyone can share!

Thanks for listening and it's nice to meet you all.

lilitiger2
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 89
   Posted 5/20/2010 7:31 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi DrCMI
this is a great board and i bet you will be hearing from all the veterans who are really helpful.
Reading your post, I thought, "He really needs to get a medical team that is supportive". I think having a doc who believes you and is working like you and s/he are a team is vital, as opposed to feeling like you have to argue to get what you need. If your doc is doing the "what now?" thing, I think I would move on to a gastro/specialist who was going to take me seriously/refer me. Clearly something is going on that should not be ignored and just upping the benzos hardly seems like an effective intervention.

I can relate to the impact on your family, not to mention trying to function on very high doses of benzodiazapines; I'd be walking into walls and as someone with her own practice, I can relate to needing to be on top of my game, not sedated! In addition to working with a supportive physician, you might also try finding a therapist who is familiar with behavioral health issues, and can help with relaxation strategies; breathing exercises, visualization, meditation and so on and can help with how to do these during the day. I was pretty skeptical about all that but it really does seem extremely helpful, and in my experience trying to heal the body without the mind is kind of fruitless. And, my animals help a lot. Great little stress busters.

I have had many conversations with my husband about lifestyle changes. We may not eat the same meal anymore but we do eat together. And to compensate for the greatly reduced going-out-to-dinner evenings, he takes me out for a round of golf! I can no longer join him in the sweat lodge he runs (he is Native) which has been a real loss, but I have been a partner of someone who died from liver cancer, so these lifestyle modifications seem trivial in comparison. I would hope your wife sees herself as a partner in all this, and is probably just hoping you are feeling better, is willing to be creative about how to find new and innovative ways to connect as you try to get to the bottom of it.

I hope you get some answers here, a lot of great insights!
Lila

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/20/2010 8:49 AM (GMT -6)   
DrCMI, what kind of procedures have you been subject too? I mean have you ever been injected with gadolinium or some other contrast agent for an MRI. If so, could you tell me when approximately, which dye, and how many times. I'm trying myself to find a common link and so far I only have a few ideas. Thanks much.
 
Posted by Seek2find on 5/19/2010 to original post.


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/20/2010 8:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Posted by DRCMI this AM
 
seek2find - thanks for your reply. Are you a sufferer of similar symptoms?

Re. diagnostic procedures, I've had abdominal/chest X-rays, bloods, and ECG during attacks - all negative. I've also had abdominal ultrasound, barium meal and follow-through, upper GI gastroscopy, oesophageal function tests, and stomach pH tests when not in acute pain - all negative, except for the endoscopy which, apart from setting off an attack later, showed minor pathological features of Coeliac's. These were not considered serious enough to cause any issues. Last February I had one abdominal CT using iodine contrast and no abnormalities were found, except for a tortuous sigmoid colon.

Would love to hear your ideas! I have a bit of a medical background in that I have a degree in biomedical sciences, a PhD in molecular biology and oncology, and have worked for the past 10 years as a medical writer, so I'm not exactly a layman. I am sure that a second opinion from an immunologist or neurologist would be useful, but my GP disagrees and won't refer me. I also have a feeling that a dose of corticosteroids might help. Again, the doc won't prescribe as I have no proven illness that requires them.

On Kitt's suggestion I have started a new thread named 'Severe upper abdominal cramping and pain'.

Hopefully hear from you soon.

Jenzer
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/15/2010 5:07 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi

I have just found this site as I am searching for an answer for the pain I get. This thread and the previous one on this topic seems to represent what I experience. I had my gallbladder removed 3 yrs ago and I had an abcess form on the site of the operation a week later which made me very ill. Previous to this I had a gallstone removed from my bileduct through an ERCP and I had jaundice and was hospitalized for weeks. I still get pains like the gallbladder pains, my gallbladder was porous and I had to have emergency surgery it was v infected also. The pains I get since are v sore in my abdomen and a tight crushing pain in my ribs around to my back. I want to remove my clothes, as if that will help!! I also get v pale and break out in a sweat and I amvery tired as a result. I can't get any relief when it is happening and I am taking Nexium every day which seems to help with the symptoms. I have had ultrasounds and catscans and scopes to see what the problem is and i have been treated for H.Pylori but today I had the worst attach in a couple of yrs. I even lost my breath and I am still sore hrs later as if I have been hit by a bus. I have been trying to stop taking the Nexium due to weight gain that I cannot seem to stop and this is depressing me. I went to see a nutritionist and she gave me mastic gum and digestive enzymes to kickstart my digestion and to try to stop needing the nexium, I think my problem is more than just excess acid though. Does anyone have an answer as to what this is and have they been diagnosed and what are the treatments?? Please help.

Jenzer
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/15/2010 5:10 PM (GMT -6)   
To add to the previous post I get this pain on an empty stomach, after eating some things and if I bend or move in a certain position and the attacks seem to come over days and build up in intensity and frequency.

Thanks

DrCMI
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 6/16/2010 3:05 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Jenzer,

Your symptoms sound very similar to my own. I too have been treated with omeprazole, but had no effect. The only thing that relieves my pain is diazepam and tramadol. I am still 'under investigation' and have had no formal diagnosis.

I also get my pain on an empty stomach, after eating, or after moving in a certain way. I haven't been able to identify any foods that trigger it, though I recently found (completely by accident) that bicarbonate of soda (a raising agent in cooking) sets it off. This is actually NaHCO3 (sodium hydrogen carbonate), which is also found in high concentrations in bile salts.

May I ask which foods you have found trigger your attacks?

Jenzer
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/16/2010 9:53 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi

I know coffee, eggs, foods with MSG, bread, especially white bread and any greasy food, such as take away food set it off. I was on tramadol, zydol and buscopan before but these don't do anything on a daily basis. If I take nexium I have very little to no symptoms and i have a good quality of life, but I don't nec want to be on medication for life and I am putting on weight that I can't lose and comes on quicky, this will have other health repurcussions. In saying that the pain I have had the last couple of days from not taking tablets is enough to make me stay on them for life. Thanks for your reply, I love a definitive answer as to what is wrong with me. It seems to be a process of elimination and nothing is showing up. I lookes into Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction last night after seeing it posted here and it looks like it is the most likely suspect. have you had any tests for that, that has never been mentioned to me by name before but my surgeon and dr has said it may be due to scar tissue from my op.

Jen

DrCMI
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 9/14/2010 5:49 AM (GMT -6)   
Finally a 'diagnosis'! My gastro' has today informed me that because all my tests (especially CRP) have been negative he is 99% sure that I am suffering from acute abdominal muscle spasms. These can be caused by previous infection with certain vomiting-inducing viruses or prior injury to the muscles (I have had/done both). It feels great to finally have a specific diagnosis. Unfortunately, the news isn't so great treatment-wise. There is nothing he can give me to prevent the spasms, so it's a matter of staying on the pain med's and benzo's. I've been referred to a pain specialist who might be able to put in a nerve block. Fingers crossed....!

I asked about Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction, but accoring to the gastro' my symptoms and laboratory results were not suggestive of this. Also, a good test to try is to lie flat on your back the next time the pain comes. Press where the pain is most severe - if it's anything like my pain it will hurt like hell. Next, lift put your chin on your chest (causing the abdominal muscles to tighten) and press in the same place. If the pain is not as severe as before, this suggests that it is originating from structures below the muscles. If it hurts like before, the pain is probably originating from the muscles as in my case. It's something that might be worth asking your doc about anyway.

All the best everyone.

Stormienite
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 185
   Posted 9/14/2010 7:12 AM (GMT -6)   
Bless your heart it sounds like you're in agony! I hope there's something they can physically do instead of just medicating and covering up the problem. (yes, eventually you do need more and more pain meds because your body builds up a tolerance)

As for the Nexium, is it just for gerd? There are many different kinds of meds on the market without the weight gain side effect. I know Prevacid is now over the counter now but I used it for about 3 years or so when it was still a prescription and it caused no weight gain at all.

Sore Butt
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 9/29/2010 8:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I have had my gall bladder out 4 yrs ago and i get a horrible pain in the middle of my abdomen now. Starts there and it seems it works its way down.
I spent 5000 dollar in catscans and scopes and what nots and they told me I had IBS. I am in extreme pain at times.. Strange it feels like where my
gall bladder was.. :( I just still don't think it's IBS. Now this week I have mucus in my stool. I still wish the doctors could find out for sure. Upsets me
to no end to lay in pain all the time.

Moo'sMum
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 234
   Posted 9/29/2010 8:45 PM (GMT -6)   
To Sore Butt and Jenzer
I had my gallbladder removed in June this year and I too still have gallstone attacks on occasions. Two remedies help me a lot. One is eating tumeric. I sprinkle tumeric on everything I can think of and I take liver support tablets that contain milk thistle and tumeric. Both these ingredients help your liver to produce good bile. It's actually your liver that causes gallbladder problems in the first place because it becomes stressed and starts producing sludgy bile and because your gallbladder stores bile it starts to form stones because the bile is too thick. When the gallbaldder is removed the liver doesn't necessarily start producing high quality bile and stones can form in the ducts because of sludgy bile hence the attacks occur. So if you can support the liver the attacks should reduce. The other thing that works really well is:
8 ounces of warm water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of cayene pepper. Drink this 3 times a day and attacks should lessen and eventually dissappear.
Cheese, cream and too much sugar are the things that set me off.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/30/2010 9:04 AM (GMT -6)   
 
We have a great forum for IBS which may help you understand that disorder better.  Stool normally contains a small amount of mucus, but passing stools with visible amounts of mucus can be from a variety of causes. Mucus in the stool is a common symptom of IBS.
 
As for 4 years of pain,  that is a tough one and please don't stop looking for the cause.  Try another GI specialist and also some great input here from the members for you to try.
 
Kindly,
Kitt
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

buffer1
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/2/2011 1:31 PM (GMT -6)   

   I happen to find this site by mistake as other have to, what a great site. We think we're the only ones with these pains.We get things checked by doctor and it all comes back good which is great but the pain is still there and it starts working on your brain and wondering if it's something more serious. I have had a cramping/burning pain below my right rib that shoots straight to the back, below the shoulder blades and it also tends to move along the lower right rib and under the right rib cage. I've had it for 2 months and at first thought it was my gall bladder, I went to my GI doctor did blood work, ultra sound and a endoscopy all came back negative.He said doesn't think gerd as i tried the ppi's and he said its muscular spasm, try motrin 800mg did nothing. Any thoughts, thank you.

 


couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 12239
   Posted 2/2/2011 6:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Did the PPIs help you?
Joy

amy violet
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/30/2012 7:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Im 44I had my gall bladder removed after having 10 years of constant stomach pains right side under ribs stomach pains with everything I ate. I have lost track of all the tests they did to me everything kept coming back clear until I had a hida scan this tests the function of your gallbladder and liver when you have eaten which revealed my gall bladder wasn't functioning. The histology report showed chronic inflammation and cholecystitis.
I suffer with some muscle cramps in my back I have also found tramadol and diazepam help with this pain. I have also ended up with osteoparosis. Try to restrict your selves form over processed foods and fatty foods.

Ali

hollyk
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/12/2013 3:42 AM (GMT -6)   
DrCMI said...
Hi all. I am amazed - and pleased - to have finally found this site, with so many stories that sound exactly like mine.

My pain tends to begin first thing in the morning with a feeling as if my stomach is empty or a tingling sensation. As soon as I feel this, I know what's coming. For the rest of the day the pain will build and build. Late at night the pain will usually reach the point where I can't sit still (I would rate it as a 7+), with my upper abdomen completely rigid for minutes at a time with just a few seconds of relief between each "contraction". The pain occasionally spreads across my back too. The pain continues to get worse and worse, eventually hitting a 10 (if it's not a 10, I would hate to feel pain that is 10!) with almost continuous muscle spasm and swelling of my upper abdomen - it looks like I have a balloon in there. It will stay this way for up to 6 hours, but by then I have eventually gone to A&E (I live in the UK) and been dosed up with IV morphine and IV buscopan. I cannot find the words to describe how severe this pain is. Morphine only just touches it and I have even begged the A&E nurses for an anaesthetic to knock me out so I can no longer feel it.

The pain used to come every couple of months since I was around 17 years old. I'm now 32 and am having an attack at least once per week, with after-effects of transient pain for several days. Needless to say I have visited numerous doctors, had multiple tests (ultrasound, CT, barium meal, gastroscopy, oesophageal function and pH, blood tests, bone mineral scans, etc.) with no abnormalities found, and have tried many different med's. I currently take baclofen (an inhibitor of skeletal muscle contraction), tramadol, and diazepam. A very high dose of diazepam with tramadol really helps to keep the pain at a just bearable level and I haven't needed to visit A&E for quite a while. But I am taking more and more medication to control the pain and I still haven't had a diagnosis - my gastroenterologist currently thinks it's severe muscle spasms of unknown origin.

I've never been able to find a trigger for the attacks. I have tried keeping food and daily diaries, but could find nothing specific that causes the pain. The only thing I have found that sets it off is tiredness and stress - I started my own company last year and since then the attacks have become much more frequent. I had to go to a conference in Barcelona last week and got up at 3am to get my flight. As such, I was tired and stressed about being at this important meeting on my own, and the pain was with me for the whole time I was away. Luckily, I could manage it with a few tramadol during the day as it built, but I had to miss dinner in the evening when it got really bad and I had to take all my med's.

The huge problem for me is that it is obvious that the doc's are getting frustrated and bored with seeing me. It feels as if they don't believe what I am telling them is true and that I am wasting their time or am just after pain-killers. The last time I vistied my GP to increase my dose of pain med's he recognised me and said "Oh...what is it THIS time?". They will never be able to understand how it feels to have this almost constant pain, to lose a couple of night's sleep every week due to pain, and spend the next day feeling with too drugged-up or sick to work (bearing in mind I own my own business, I work hard and long hours, and have a family to support). It also significnatly affects my quality of life - if I have pain I can't eat so miss out on a meal with my wife, I rarely feel like going out with friends, I've given up alcohol in case it's a trigger (we used to enjoy a glass or two of wine together), and whenever we go anywhere I need to make sure I have enough med's just in case of an attack. I suppose that the stress of worrying about attacks could, in fact, set them off.

Put simply, I've had enough of living like this. And I've got no idea what I can do about it.

I would really appreciate any suggestions that anyone can share!




Not sure if you ever found out what was causing it buy to me it sounds like splinter of the oddI or pancreatitis.

Thanks for listening and it's nice to meet you all.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 1/12/2013 2:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Holly K,
 
I have locked down this thread as it is from 2010.  If you would like to post your own thread on this topic please feel comfortable doing so.
 
We are glad to have you here as a member in the forum.
Kindly,
Kitt
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.



“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”
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