Causes of appendix pain and treatment options


Pain in the appendix is usually caused by inflammation and rarely by a tumor. Inflammation of the appendix is called appendicitis , and it can feel like a dull ache in the middle or right side of the abdomen. Then the pain may become sharp and move to the lower right part of the abdomen. This type of pain occurs in about 80 percent of people with appendicitis .

Other signs and symptoms of appendicitis include fever , indigestion, nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, poor appetite, and an inability to pass gas or too much gas. The pain is often aggravated by sneezing, coughing, movement, and breathing. Some people may bring their knees up to their chest for pain relief. Less common symptoms include painful urination, pain in other parts of the abdomen, back, or rectum .

Illustration by Alexandra Gordon, Get Meds Info


The appendix is a small tubular organ that connects to the large intestine . It is 2 to 4 inches long and is located in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. There are theories as to what the app's role might be, but there's no definitive answer. This organ is not essential for life and is often removed if it becomes inflamed or infected. If the colon is removed ( colectomy ), the appendix is also removed because the two organs are connected.

The space within the appendix has a name: lumen . Light can be blocked, for example, when stool makes its way into the appendix. Another way to narrow the lumen is to enlarge the lymph node, for example, with an infection, when the node presses on the appendix.


Appendicitis: When the appendix becomes blocked, it increases the pressure within the appendix, reduces blood flow to the area, and can lead to infection and inflammation. In some cases, the lumen is blocked by stool or even a hardened fecal stone called fecalitis or appendicolitis. Tissue from an inflamed and infected appendix may begin to die (become gangrenous ). This, in turn, can cause the appendix to rupture or even rupture. In rare cases, an injury to the abdomen can also rupture the appendix .

Abscess – An abscess (collection of pus) may form in the appendix area. It is often associated with inflammation of the appendix, but can be treated before treating appendicitis .


Swelling – A rare cause of appendix pain is swelling. Appendix cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it develops in an advanced stage. However, when symptoms appear, it is associated with the development of appendicitis .

When to see a doctor

Abdominal pain is common, so it is important to have a doctor evaluate for new pain. In particular, severe pain in the lower right corner of the abdomen is a feature of appendicitis and is a reason for immediate treatment. In many cases, the pain begins higher in the abdomen and then spreads to the lower right area.

Appendicitis is a medical emergency. Symptoms of appendicitis usually appear shortly after appendix blockage begins, so they can appear within four to 48 hours. The symptoms of appendicitis can be similar to those of other conditions, so it is imperative to take them seriously and get a quick and accurate diagnosis .

A tumor of the appendix, which is rare, may not cause any symptoms until appendicitis develops and symptoms of the condition begin.

Signs and symptoms of appendicitis that should be discussed with your doctor or, more commonly, urged to visit the emergency room include:

  • Inability to pass gas
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Hot
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Threw up


Symptoms such as abdominal pain and fever can lead the doctor to suspect an inflamed appendix. Then several different tests can be used to determine whether it is appendicitis or not .

Laboratories and tests

Blood test: There is no blood test that can show the presence of appendicitis. However, the number of white blood cells in the body increases when there is an infection, and a high white blood cell count , along with a physical exam, can be used together to determine if the appendix is inflamed .

Physical exam: Physical exam is important in diagnosing appendicitis. In some cases, it may be decided that surgery to remove the appendix is necessary after a physical exam and imaging tests may not be done. Tenderness to palpation (pressure) of the lower right abdomen may indicate appendicitis. The pain may also get worse after the pressure is released. The examining physician will look for signs of pain, such as tension or protection of the painful area. When the appendix ruptures, the abdomen can become stiff and swollen .


Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan is a type of X-ray that shows a cross section of the abdomen. The patient undergoing this test will lie on a table that is inserted into a large x-ray machine. The machine will take pictures that show the structures inside the abdomen. A contrast dye may be injected through a dropper to help visualize the organs in the abdomen. If the appendix is swollen, enlarged, or narrowed, it can be seen on CT scans .

Ultrasound: Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to visualize structures within the body. Ultrasound scans may be done more often in children or pregnant women to avoid the use of radiation. During the ultrasound, an instrument called a transducer is moved around the abdomen to capture images. If the appendix is enlarged, it may show up on the images obtained as a result of this test .

Other tests: Because appendicitis is similar to other conditions, other tests may be done to see if the abdominal pain may be caused by another cause. These tests may include a pelvic exam, a urinalysis , a pregnancy test, and a chest X-ray. Tumors of the appendix are rare, and if they are suspected to be a cause of abdominal pain, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) may be used .

Differential diagnosis

A doctor may look at other causes as the cause of appendix pain because the signs and symptoms of an inflamed appendix are similar to many other conditions, including:

Watch out

Treatment for appendicitis is almost always surgery to remove an organ (called an appendectomy ). Antibiotics are prescribed before surgery due to the risk of spreading the infection. This is because if the appendix ruptures and spills into the abdomen, it can cause a condition called peritonitis, which is life-threatening. If an abscess has already formed, your doctor may place a tube under your skin to drain it.

In some cases, antibiotics may be the only treatment for appendicitis. Some studies have shown that appendicitis can improve after a course of antibiotics in some patients with acute (sudden) appendicitis. However, 40% of these patients will require removal of the appendix in the next year due to another attack of appendicitis.

An appendectomy can be performed by open surgery or laparoscopically. Open surgery will require a small incision in the lower right corner of your abdomen. Laparoscopic surgery is done through three or four small incisions. Once the decision to have surgery has been made, the appendix is almost always removed, even if the procedure reveals that the appendix may be normal (not infected or inflamed). Most people stay in the hospital one more day after an appendectomy. Antibiotic treatment continues for three to five days after surgery.

For an appendix tumor, treatment will include an appendectomy. If a malignant tumor is found, treatment will depend on the stage of the disease (for example, chemotherapy for advanced cancer).


There is currently no known way to prevent appendicitis.

It is important to avoid complications after an appendectomy. Completing the course of antibiotics after surgery is important for a full recovery. Any problems with the incision, such as redness or drainage, should be discussed with your doctor immediately. Symptoms such as fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain may indicate another infection, and it is important to seek immediate medical attention if they occur.

Get the word of drug information

Stomach pain is difficult to control, especially before you understand what may be causing it. Although pain can be severe when inflammation of the appendix is suspected, treatment usually begins immediately after diagnosis. It is important to see your doctor for new abdominal pain because it is impossible to know whether it is appendicitis or not, and inflammation of the appendix is a serious condition.

The good news is that while no one wants surgery, in many cases it can be done laparoscopically, and most people recover well from appendectomy surgery without complications. After briefly limiting activity, most people return to their normal schedule and do not need to change anything in their diet or lifestyle. People live a normal life without an appendix. Once the appendix is removed, the problem cannot reappear.

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