Cramps in the abdomen


As a cramp, respectively Muscle cramp, is usually a painful and unwanted one Tension of the muscles designated. The muscles of the internal organs belong to the so-called smooth muscles and cannot be controlled arbitrarily. The abdominal wall is from Skeletal muscles lined that can be controlled arbitrarily. The The cause of cramps in the abdomen usually lies in the internal organs.

The term "cramp" is, however, rather uncommon in technical language. Instead, the term "colic". Particularly characteristic of this often very severe pain is theirs labor-like characterwhich means that the Strength of pain undulating runs - i.e. alternately increases and decreases again. Phases of as far as possible freedom from symptoms are also possible. Colic-like pain also typically occurs movement independent on.
The following article on abdominal cramps will deal specifically with diseases of the internal organs and therefore more specifically with colic. The terms "colic" and "cramp" should be used synonymously.


Cramps in the abdomen can originate in all organs in the abdomen, which are lined with a layer of smooth muscles. In addition to the small and large intestines, these include the ureters and gallbladder, as well as the bile ducts. The urinary bladder, stomach, pancreas (ducts), uterus or seminal ducts are rarely affected.

Colic often develops in these organs due to the closure of the respective duct or hollow organ. This causes the muscles to remove the blockage by means of convulsive contractions in order to enable a new passage (for example of the intestinal contents). In the case of the bile ducts or ureters, this blockage is almost always caused by stones, which in turn can have very different causes.

For more information, see: Gallstones, kidney stones.

Cramps in the intestinal muscles can also be caused by increased resistance. This can be caused on the one hand by a narrowing of the intestinal volume in one or more places, but on the other hand also by a complete occlusion of the intestine by its contents. The complete occlusion of the intestine is called an ileus.
Apart from that, the cause of an intestinal cramp can also be found in an infection. The goal of the cramping of the muscles is to empty the intestine of its infectious contents as quickly as possible.

Read more on the subject at: Cramps in the intestines.


Abdominal cramps are typically caused by what is called vegetative reactions of the body accompanied. This is understood to mean a multitude of symptoms which are caused by the autonomic nervous system (not the voluntary nervous system). This is responsible for regulating all automatically occurring processes in the body, such as bowel movements or the speed of the heartbeat.
Vegetative symptoms of cramps in the abdomen therefore range from Increase in blood pressure, Racing heart, Sweating up to Circulatory collapse. The accompanying symptoms are also characteristic of colic nausea and Vomit, as well as a strong restlessness of the person concerned. The cramping pain themselves are often very strong. Occurrence in a particular location often provides clues to the diseased organ and can be helpful in diagnosing the underlying disease.

Cramps in the abdomen - right

With the information that the abdominal cramps occur on the right side, the list of possible causes can be narrowed down. These include in particular the Colic of the small or large intestine. In principle, it can be felt in the entire abdomen, i.e. ultimately also in the right upper and lower abdomen. It can be caused by various diseases such as Gastrointestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease (these include Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis) or Food intolerance.

Right-sided colic can also be triggered by a Biliary colic which mostly occurs when the main bile ducts are blocked Gallstones (Cholelithiasis) occurs. The cramp-like, usually very severe pain is mainly localized in the right upper abdomen (please refer: Gallstones symptoms). That being said, one can also occur quite rarely Inflammation of the seminal vesicle(n) cause spasmodic pain radiating into the (right) lower abdomen. This is primarily through Urinary tract infections mainly causes and causes pain in the groin region. A common accompanying symptom is the Voiding disorder . Furthermore, a (right-hand) Ureteral colic Be a trigger of right-sided abdominal cramps. Typically, the pain is often localized in the respective flank region, but the colic can also radiate into the lower abdomen and groin region.

Cramp in the abdomen - left

Left-sided abdominal pain is very common Cramps in the intestines caused. As already described above, this often works Gastrointestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis) or Food intolerance back and is accompanied by unspecific vegetative symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, palpitations or shock symptoms.
Furthermore, a left-sided Ureteral colic cause cramps in the left lower abdomen due to a urinary stone. However, the pain caused by this is mainly to be found in the left flank.
Likewise, the rarely occurring Inflammation of the seminal vesicles be responsible for cramp-like pain in the left lower abdomen and left groin region.
Finally, in left-sided epigastric cramps, the Pancreatic colic be causative. However, it is also very rarely found.

Cramps in the abdomen - in the middle

Abdominal cramps can cause pain in various places.

As in the rest of the abdomen, the most common cause of centrally located abdominal cramps is one Intestinal colic of the small or large intestine, which can be caused by various diseases, but above all infections. Apart from that, colic located in the middle of the upper abdomen is rarely caused by a so-called gastrospasm, a Persistent cramp of the stomach, triggered.

However, if the pain is located in the middle of the lower abdomen, this could mean that in addition to intestinal colic, at least in women uterus (Uterus) may be responsible for the cramps. Are conceivable here Uterine fibroids (Swelling of the muscle layer in the uterus) or Polyps (Enlargement of the mucous membrane) as the cause. Ultimately, however, it can also get stuck very deep in the ureter Urinary stones Cramp-like pain in the middle lower abdomen, near the urinary bladder, which is behind the pubic bone.

Abdominal cramps and back pain

Back pain in combination with severe abdominal cramps represent a very specific combination of symptoms. Although it is also conceivable that both symptoms occur independently of one another, in principle they should make one think of two clinical pictures.
One of these is the Ureteral colicwhich by the occlusion of the ureter by a Urinary stone is caused. The consequences are severe labor-like pain, which are mostly in Flanks and Lower abdomen can be localized, but can also radiate into the back and the scrotum or the labia.
The second clinical picture that can be accompanied by pain in the abdomen and back pain is that acute pelvic inflammation (Pyelonephritis). The character of the pain can be both spasmodic-wavy, as well as stabbing be, and either in the Flanks, in the move yourself or even belt-shaped around the trunk be localized. Usually come with them fever and chills added. In addition, severe pain is typical even with light to moderate tapping of the flanks (please refer: Symptoms of pelvic inflammation).
This shows how helpful it is to note the exact nature of the pain. So also solves the acute pancreatitis (Pancreatitis) one intense, belt-shaped pain radiating from the upper abdomen to the back out. However, this one is not convulsive and therefore not to be called colic.

Flatulence with cramps in the abdomen

Flatulence, in technical language as Flatulence or with stronger, possibly painful expression than Meteorism referred to, arise through an increased Accumulation and release of intestinal gases. These are mainly made up of methane, carbon dioxide and the odor-intensive hydrogen sulfide, which are also produced during the normal digestive process.
The excessive production and accumulation of intestinal gases with accompanying cramps and flatulence can have various causes. Usually there are flatulence, however harmless and due to a sudden change in diet or psychological stress. Both high-fiber, high-carbohydrate, protein-rich and fatty foods can cause digestive disorders if they are unfamiliar.

However, should abdominal cramps and gas from very strong intensity be about last for many hours or even days or even accompanied by vomiting, should be a medical evaluation respectively. Serious illnesses can be the cause here.
Typical triggers for recurring intestinal colic and flatulence are Malabsorption (reduced intake) or Maldigestion syndromes (reduced breakdown of food components), i.e. sub-forms of Food intolerance.
These include, for example Gluten intolerance (Sprue /Celiac disease) and the Lactose intolerance. The flatulence is caused by the fact that intestinal bacteria take over the degradation of the poorly or not at all digested food components. In this process, intestinal gases are increasingly produced, which, by inflating the intestine, lead to a painful stretching of the intestinal wall.
These are some other possible causes of gas and bowel cramps Irritable bowel syndrome, Food allergies, one disturbed intestinal flora as part of a lengthy Antibiotic therapy or even Pancreatic disease. Precisely because the symptom complex of flatulence and colic is so unspecific, the need for one should possibly be Doctor's visit be considered.

Abdominal cramps and constipation

Similar to flatulence, constipation is a very extensive topic and can have various causes. However, constipation is a very widespread disease of civilization among us and can typically be attributed to factors such as a low fiber diet, inadequate hydration and Sedentary lifestyle lead back.
However, various metabolic disorders such as the are also conceivable Diabetes mellitus or the Hypothyroidism, as well as disorders of the Electrolyte balance, Narrowing of the intestines and Medication side effectssuch as opiates, to name but a few causes of constipation.

People who suffer from frequent constipation should take a corresponding first step Diet change tackle. This includes in particular a sufficient Fluid intake of 1.5 to 2 liters per day, such as high fiber meals. Vegetables and especially fruit are recommended here. Much of the blockages can occur with consistent implementation of these measures be treated effectively within a few days. Of course, severe and regularly occurring abdominal pain should still be clarified by a doctor so that the underlying causes can be identified and treated.

Abdominal cramps during pregnancy

Abdominal pain is more or less severe Companion to every pregnancy. The nature of the pain is sometimes very different from woman to woman. Some complain more of a slight pulling, while others have a cramp-like character. The latter in particular can be very worrying for the mother-to-be. But first of all: cramps, like pulling pains, are in most cases just that Result of increasing strain on the ligaments and muscles in the pelvis. These are responsible for stabilizing the uterus - a task which understandably becomes more demanding as the child grows. The result can be both Belly-, as well as Back pain which can resemble menstrual cramps or sore muscles.

Abdominal cramps can also have other causes. So can Sexual intercourse during pregnancy cause mild pain, which can even resemble light labor. Nonetheless, it should be mentioned at this point that sex is nonetheless no danger represents for the child.

Still, cramps can occur during pregnancy in rare cases, an impending premature birth or miscarriage Clues. However, these are then in almost all cases accompanied by light bleeding or discharge. At the latest when this is the case, that is Visit the gynecologist or the midwife important. Heavy bleeding and abdominal pain are even an emergency and require inpatient treatment. warning sign, which should definitely entail a visit to the doctor, arise aggravating abdominal painn, as well as fever and chills or symptoms like nausea, Vomit and Burning sensation when urinating None of these symptoms must necessarily be the result of an impending miscarriage. Nevertheless, they represent serious symptoms that can be the result of serious illnesses.

You can find more information at: Abdominal pain in pregnancy.

Abdominal cramps in children

Abdominal pain in children as well as adults can have many causes. In fact, they have a stomach ache often not of organic origin. Instead of intestinal infections, gas or food intolerance, the pain often has one psychosomatic background. Lead especially with older children Stress and anxiety to nausea and cramping pain. However, recognizing this is seldom easy. Because of this, parents should look to warning sign respect, think highly of. These include unusually severe and sudden pain in the child great unrest.

On the other hand should too long-lasting painthe cause of which is not clear. Likewise, a severely tense abdominal wall, as well as other symptoms such as fever, chills, diarrhea and Vomit indicate a serious disease of the abdominal organs.

However, there is another problem in the clarification of abdominal pain in children. Small children in particular are still there unable to pinpoint pain and so often report pain in regions that are actually quite far from the stomach as stomach pain. To make matters worse, pain can also radiate into the abdominal region or from this to other parts of the body. A classic example of this is biliary colic, which can cause pain in the right shoulder area.
For all these reasons, it is therefore helpful to note when and in what context the abdominal pain occurs. If they occur while urinating, a urinary tract infection should be considered. If they get worse when you inhale or exhale, however, there could be a respiratory infection or even pneumonia, whereas abdominal pain during bowel movements can indicate constipation or an intestinal infection.

Further information on the subject can be found at: Abdominal pain in children.

Abdominal cramps while running / jogging

Eating food before running often leads to discomfort while jogging.

Gastrointestinal complaints during running training are one frequently described phenomenon. These are often not just stomach cramps; additionally can other symptoms such as heartburn and diarrhea occur. Although these complaints are widespread, little is known about their background. It is noticeable, however, that the complaints especially with intensive training or an increase in stress occur.

Obvious when looking for the causes is a connection with the reduced blood flow to the digestive organs during physical exertion. The blood that is additionally available as a result can instead be used to supply the muscles with oxygen and nutrients and thus represents a useful mechanism for increasing performance during great physical exertion. Does the athlete take during or food just before training it is digested much more slowly and can cause gastrointestinal problems.

However, the runner's diet is generally a major focus in the search for solutions. So it is often recommended to use the Share of dairy products in food to reducewhich makes sense insofar as the human digestion is not optimally adapted to the processing of large amounts of lactose. Also one Reduction of fiber or short-term carbohydrates in food should be able to provide a remedy in some cases.

Apart from that, however, there are also references in the direction of the respective Breathing technique. Likewise a Strengthening of the core muscles in some cases relieve symptoms. To what extent all of these measures actually counteract cramps while jogging remains questionable. Regrettably, no general advice on this can be given.

Abdominal cramps during your period

Make abdominal cramps during your period one of the most common gynecological complaints The pain can even radiate into other parts of the body. Also Back pain or Pain in the thighs are not infrequently described during the period. The cramps originate in Contractions of the uterus (Uterus). These are through a Decrease in female sex hormones which occurs after the egg cell has not been fertilized. As a result, the previously built up mucous membrane of the uterus is finally shed, which results in a bloody discharge.
Some women may have very severe abdominal cramps behind Diseases like endometriosis (irregular appearance of uterine lining) or benign muscle tumors of the uterus (Fibroids). Overall, however, this is rarely the case.

A well-suited remedy for pain relief is this Endurance sports. Through this the Increased blood flow to the pelvic organsso that cramps are reduced. In addition, the Taking the birth control pill suitable to get through the cycle symptom-free.


Ultrasound is often used in making a diagnosis.

The first, and often most important, step in the diagnosis of almost any human body disease is the anamnese, so the Asking for symptoms and medical historyInformation about the exact location and intensity of the cramps, when they occur or how they can be alleviated, can be particularly useful. Current and previous illnesses of the patient and recently taken medication can also play a role.
As a standard, every diagnosis of abdominal complaints includes the following physical examination including listening, tapping and palpation of the stomach.
Nowadays, imaging procedures are also of particular importance. While X-rays are only of limited help in diseases of the abdomen, ultrasound examinations are used. With their help, the trained examiner can detect an enormous variety of diseases of the abdominal organs. On the other hand, CT and MRI images of the abdominal cavity are rarely initiated.
Depending on the suspected cause of the colic you can Laboratory tests of the blood, such as endoscopic examinations (Reflection of hollow organs) provide further information. The endoscopic examination of the large intestine is called Colonoscopythat of the stomach and duodenum as Gastro, or. Duodenoscopy designated.


In this section of the article, only three of the most common conditions associated with colic will be discussed.

One of these is the Intestinal colic. In the acute situation, in most cases antispasmodic, such as pain reliever drugs administered. One of these is primarily that which has an antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscles Butylscopolamine, as well as the opiod Pethidine (Dolantin®). Further therapy is adapted to the respective cause of the intestinal colic. A bacterial infection for example, using Antibiotics treated against Viruses however, antibiotics are ineffective, so here only one symptomatic therapy can be done. Additionally can special diets and inflating measures lead to symptom relief. Is a Narrowing (Stenosis) as the reason for the abdominal cramps, it must be operationally if necessary be treated.

The Kidney or Ureteral colic is also called first medicinal With Painkillers (especially metamizole) and antispasmodic drugs (above all butylscopolamine). As good as always one Urinary stone who is responsible for the complaints must, however, as early as possible Stone removal be sought. Various procedures are available for this. A comparatively new method is the "extracorporeal method" Shock wave therapyThe stone is shattered by means of sound waves under X-ray or sonographic control. The remains of the shattered stone can then be excreted naturally. Alternatives to this are the open surgical or endoscopic (minimally invasive) or cytoscopic (via the urinary bladder) distance of the stone Incidentally, very small stones often come off spontaneously. This process can be carried out with the help of an appropriate pain therapy high hydration, Move and local heat application get supported.

Also the Biliary colic will typically begin with using the pain reliever Metamizole and the anticonvulsant drug Butylscopolamine treated. If there is a suspicion of an inflammation of the biliary tract, a antibiotic administered. Most of the time there is a 24-hour food leave to prescribe which afterwards of a special diet is replaced. For the further procedure, there are various methods to choose from, depending on the severity of the stone disease. Classically, a complete removal of the gallbladder made, which is overall very few complications and almost completely eliminates the problem of new stone formation. If the gallstone gets stuck in the bile duct, it can be replaced using the so-called ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), one endoscopic procedureto be removed. Finally, another frequently used method is the drug dissolution of the stone (Litholysis), as well as the extracorporeal Shock wave therapy for optional.


The duration of abdominal cramps cannot be foreseen without an appropriate diagnosis of the cause. So it can be both a harmless intestinal infection act which in most cases heals on its own within a day.
On the other hand, the colic can also through Gallstones with possibly serious consequences which are caused if left untreated do not regress themselves. It should be noted that the classic characteristic of cramps is their undulating course. That ultimately means that the Pain can also disappear completely in phases and gain strength again later. Should stomach cramps longer than a few hours stop or be very strong, that is See a doctor strongly recommended.