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Abdominal Pain: From the Handshake to the Physical Exam

There are many possible causes of abdominal pain; generally, abdominal pain can occur from inflammation of the stomach, intestines, and other internal organs. Abdominal pain can also occur from diseases and conditions such as hepatitis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gall bladder disease.

There are many possible causes of abdominal pain; generally, abdominal pain can occur from inflammation of the stomach, intestines, and other internal organs. Abdominal pain can also occur from diseases and conditions such as hepatitis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gall bladder disease. Abdominal pain can occur from a fecal impaction, or from some other type of intestinal blockage.

Sometimes there is no specific identifiable cause for abdominal pain. When your pain cannot be pinpointed to a specific cause, it is usually called functional pain. Functional pain may be due to abnormal contractions of the gut, as in IBS. A person with IBS can have abdominal pain without any inflammation of the gut. Much of the pain associated with IBS is due hypersensitivity of the nerves in the gut, and abnormal contractions of the muscles within the gut.

How is abdominal pain diagnosed?

If your abdominal pain lasts long enough, and is significant enough, you will likely see your doctor to see what is wrong with you. Your doctor will welcome you with a handshake, and then he/she will ask what has brought you to the office. You will be asked questions about the onset of your abdominal pain, and the pain’s intensity. How long have you experienced abdominal pain? How intense is the pain? What does the pain feel like? Is the pain sharp or dull? The doctor will probably ask you about your bowel habits. Are your bowels moving every day? Are you constipated? Do you have loose bowel movements? What color are your bowel movements? Have you experienced nausea and vomiting? Have you noticed rectal bleeding?

Your doctor will need to examine you to determine where the pain is coming from. The doctor will palpate (feel) the underlying structures of the abdomen. He/she may also use percussion on your abdominal surface to examine the internal structures. The doctor listens to the sounds the tapping makes against your internal organs.

Another reason for the physical examination of the abdomen is to see how you react to the pressure applied to your abdomen. When the doctor is palpating or percussing your abdomen, you may wince or cry out in pain due to tenderness of the area being examined. Once the physical exam is done, your doctor may need more information. You may need to submit to tests to help identify the cause of your complaints of abdominal pain.

Conclusion

Your examination will begin before you are even aware of it. Have you ever wondered why your doctor gives you a hand shake each time you are seen in his/her office? Aside from the handshake being a form of greeting, the handshake is the first physical contact between you and your doctor. Your examination has just begun with the handshake. Your doctor can tell a lot about you, just by shaking your hand. Your doctor will feel whether your hand is cold and clammy or warm and dry. If your hand is cold and clammy, this signifies some sort of distress within your body. Cold and clammy hands could be an indicator of flu, or some other sickness or disease. Cold clammy hands could also be indicative of some sort of metabolic disorder such as Diabetes Mellitus.

The tests you might need to have to diagnose abdominal pain will be discussed in another article.

Sources:

http://www.medicinenet.com/abdominal_pain/article.htm

http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/sym/cold_skin.htm

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Comments (2)

No abdominal pain here, except when Judge Judy comes on. Change the channel, and it's gone.

Judge Judy: you either love her or hate her...lol. Thanks for reading.

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