Most people associate pain in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen with appendicitis, though several conditions can cause this symptom. The nature of the pain — whether it is sharp and shooting or a mild ache — can help identify the cause. Diagnosis is important because some causes escalate and significantly endanger health.
Appendicitis is a common cause of right-side abdominal pain and is usually treated as a medical emergency. The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch that protrudes from the colon in the lower right of the abdomen. If bacteria gets into the organ, it can cause inflammation leading to pain that begins in the middle of the abdomen and radiates to the lower-right side. In addition to sharp and consistent pain, appendicitis can also cause loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and fever. In most cases, the symptoms are intense enough that people seek medical attention quickly, and the doctor removes the appendix before it bursts. A burst appendix is extremely dangerous.
Kidney stones are small mineral deposits that develop due to a decrease in urine volume. These crystallized balls concentrate the urine, which further exacerbates dehydration. Kidney stones may be calcium oxalate, cystine, uric acid, or calcium phosphate. They often cause pain in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen, but most people do not notice their presence until the stone begins to travel down the ureters. Other associated symptoms include discolored, foul-smelling urine or blood in the urine, chills, fever, vomiting, and nausea.
Inflammation of the bulging sacs or pouches in the inner wall of the large intestine is called diverticulitis. The common digestive disease affects bowel moments and causes severe abdominal pain. Most people do not experience severe symptoms, just mild or moderate pain and bloating in the lower right abdomen. In some cases, however, diverticulitis can result in cramping, loss of appetite, tenderness in the stomach, and nausea. Complications include bleeding and abscesses.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the colon and small intestine that spreads deep into the affected tissues. There are two central inflammatory bowel diseases: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some of the common symptoms unintended weight loss, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, and blood in urine. Though the exact cause for the condition is yet not known, most cases are quickly diagnosed by biopsy during a colonoscopy.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) affects women and is caused by a bacterial infection, including some STIs. Reportedly, one in eight women experiencing PID have difficulty getting pregnant. The condition is characterized by a significant pain in the lower right abdomen. Other symptoms include vaginal bleeding, fever, back pain, and painful intercourse. In many women, PID causes minor or no symptoms, and intravenous antibiotics can address most issues that develop. Timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent further complications like infertility, long-term abdominal pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
Ovulation pain typically starts on the lower right abdomen. Most women experience monthly ovulation from adolescence until menopause, and sensation can range from nonexistent to severe discomfort or pain lasting a few hours. Vaginal bleeding and cramping can also accompany the passage of the egg. Mild pain during ovulation can be normal, but if the pain is intense or excruciating, it can indicate a condition like endometriosis. If a doctor approves, over-the-counter pain medication can alleviate regular ovulation pain.
Ectopic pregnancy is a complication wherein the fetus implants outside the womb, most commonly in one of the fallopian tubes. In a healthy pregnancy, the fertilized egg moves through the fallopian tube and reaches the uterus, but a disruption in the movement of the egg can cause problems. Ectopic pregnancies can result from endometriosis, scarring from a surgery or ruptured appendix, or a congenital disability. A woman in this condition will have a positive pregnancy test and may also experience light vaginal bleeding and shoulder pain or a sudden urge to have a bowel movement.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled pocket that develops in or on the surface of an ovary. Most ovarian cysts are painless and cause no symptoms, but in rare cases, they can have complications. One of the defining symptoms of an enlarged or twisted cyst in the right ovary is a striking pain in the lower right abdomen. Other symptoms include pain during sex, vomiting, painful bowel movements, and nausea.
Endometriosis results from the abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus and causes significant pelvic pain. Other symptoms of this chronic disease are infertility and heavy bleeding. Laparoscopy procedures can diagnose the condition, and active treatment includes hormone therapy and medications to manage pain.
Symptoms of colon cancer include severe pain in the lower right abdomen, persistent fatigue and tiredness, changes in bowel movements, and weight loss. Risk factors for this type of cancer include genetic disorders, lifestyle changes, family history of the condition, diet, smoking, and older age. Treatment for colon cancer is usually a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.