511091 tn?1211149660

Attacks of severe abdominal pain around navel with vomiting - Help

Since October 2009, I have had almost monthly episodes of abdominal pain which is centered around my navel and goes to the lower right side of my abdomen and radiates into my back.  The pain comes on gradually and seems to be similar to contractions and I can hear a lot of gurgling noises coming from my abdominal area.  The pains get worse and worse and I start having nausea and vomiting, and each episode lasts at least 10-12 hours.

After the first attack in October 2009 which landed me in the emergency room, a CT with contrast was performed which was normal.  No appendicitis.  The CT did show severe irritation at my terminal ileum (I think; whatever the juncture of the small and large intestines is called).  I was given Flagyl and Leviquin via IV, along with morphine for the pain.  I had taken Norco 10/325 at home for the pain, but it didn't help, and I threw it up anyway, because after the pain starts, it just gets worse and worse and then the nausea and vomiting set in.

The gastroenterologist at the hospital said I might have inflammatory bowel disease.  I don't have any diarrhea or constipation with these pain episodes, which I told him.  This doctor performed a colonoscopy and an EGD 6 weeks after I got out of the hospital and told he "everything looked great".  I asked him what was causing the pain, and he said "IBS, I guess." and prescribed Dicyclomine.  

I faithfully took the Dycyclomine but had another attack in November and then another one in December.  I went to the ER again in December, and they didn't do another CT scan, just gave me Flagyl via IV and Dilaudid for the pain and kept me in the hospital for 3 days.  I went to the gastroenterologist again and said "This can't be IBS; the pain wakes me up at night, and the only medication that relieves it is morphine."  He said it was his conclusion that it WAS IBS and "all we can do is manage the symptoms".

I went to a colon/rectal surgeon in January 2010 to see what he thought it might be -- I was living in fear about another "attack" and wanted a 2nd opinion.  He ordered another CT scan with IV contrast, but the nurses gave up trying to start my IV after over an hour of trying unsuccessfully to start one, and the radiologist said to just do the CT without the contrast.  The CT results were normal.

I had a gallbladder ultrasound and HIDA scan in 2008 and told all the different doctors of this, and they did not order any more tests on my gallbladder.

I decided maybe the pain was gynecologic in nature since it seemed to happen on a monthly basis and saw an ob/gyn who specializes in pelvic pain.  He ordered a transvaginal and pelvic ultrasound and said I had several fibroids and that my uterus was filled with scar tissue from an endometrial ablation done 5 years ago, and that was the source of my pain.  We made the decision that I needed to have my uterus removed, and since he didn't perform laparoscopic hysterectomies, I went to yet another ob/gyn who specializes in laparoscopic hysterectomies.  I continued to have these pain "attacks" approximately every 21-25 days.  The last few I had, I "toughed it out" at home and put a heating pad on my stomach and didn't go to the ER, but the pain was excruciating.  The doctor prescribed phenergan in a cream form I could rub on the inside of my wrist for the nausea and vomiting since I would throw up a pill, and I couldn't insert a suppository.

I had a supracervical da Vinci assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy July 16, 2010.  I breathed a sigh of relief thinking this had solved my pain.  Although no pictures were taken, the surgeon told me that my appendix looked OK and that he didn't see "any gross abnormalities" in my abdomen or any of the organs that he was able to visualize during the surgery.

Last night I started having the contraction pains in my abdomen, right around my navel, and immediately took a Norco 10/325 and rubbed some Phenergan cream on my wrist.  It didn't help at all.  I started vomiting violently and the pain just continued to get worse.  I had a normal bowel movement during all this, but the pain didn't let up.  This is the worst episode I have had to date.  

I called the surgeon who performed my hysterectomy and he said "You must have eaten something bad."  I told him "No, this is the same kind of pain I came to you about in the first place and you thought the hysterectomy would relieve."  He asked me if I thought I needed to go to the ER and I told him "yes, I certainly do".  So I went to the same hospital where my hysterectomy was done, and the ER doctor took blood and did a CT without contrast.  The blood tests were normal and the CT scan was normal.  

I had to ask him to please give me something to help the pain, and he gave me a dose of Dilaudid in my IV.  It did help the pain, but when I asked him what was the cause of the pain, he said he didn't know; that his job was to make sure there was nothing "immediately life threatening" wrong with me and asked if I had seen a gastroenterologist.  I explained that I had and that I had been experiencing this pain for several months and had gone to the ER with it before, too.  He suggested I go to a gastroenterologist affiliated with the hospital.

I am completely beaten down emotionally and physically now, because I have taken what I thought were radical steps to alleviate this pain, but apparently the removal of my uterus did not "fix" whatever is causing the pain.  I asked the ER doctor if he could write me a prescription for Dilaudid so I can have it on hand for future attacks -- I can't keep going to the ER every time I have this pain -- I have bills from previous ER visits that I can't pay now and apparently they can't diagnose the problem -- but he told me he couldn't write a prescription for that kind of medication; the strongest he could prescribe was Norco, which I already take, and which doesn't even make a dent in the pain.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can or should do at this point?  This pain is interfering with my life -- I have missed work because of it and need help.  I feel like every doctor I've gone to except the ob/gyn who did my hysterectomy has kind of blown me off.

I need help really badly.

Thank you,

Dana B.
11 Responses
Avatar universal

May not be connected and already look in to, but I get very similar reactions to something. Once I have been sick, it does seem to very slowly get better from thereon. I managed to make a fruit connection (not all fruit, just sometimes and not empty stomach dependant etc). I have been tested and am not allergic to the fruit and it is not acid as one may assume. The closest to a diagnosis that I have managed to trace over the past 5 or 6 years is that once food has been broken down in my body, new chemicals are formed. In some (unknown) circumstances, I then seem to have a reaction to these new chemicals. The symptoms are a gradual stomach ache (0-2hrs) then more significant (2-4hrs) then really bad (4-9) then sick (9-11); another 3-4 hours of bad stomach ache that gradually recedes. I then feel rough for a day or so. This used to happen about every 5-6 weeks (although not always that far apart—sometimes it happened within a week of a previous attack). The pain area is naval area and a 3” circle around it.

I have no idea if there is any relation between the two or if you only experience problems on a regular basis (e.g. every 4 weeks); in which case it would suggest it is your own body that is causing the problems.

I assume that you have eliminated all things like the above but as the actual symptoms seemed so close I thought I would mention it.

Hope you get to the bottom of it.

Avatar universal

I have similar pains that I have noticed some monthly, or after eating something. It's hard to say if I have a food allergy or not, because some days I'm fine with whatever I'm eating, and other days, I'm not fine. My pain stays near the belly button area and seems to be my intestinal wall inflaming and coming through the abdomen muscles. It is highly painful to the touch. I also do not have any constipation, but that's because I do not eat grains anymore. I was told to increase my fiber because the doctor thought I had IBS. When I increased fiber, my symptoms got worse. So, instead, I eat lots of fruit, veggies, meats and dairy. My current pain occured 5 days after my period started, and the next day after I ate peanut butter. The episode I experienced last month also happened after my period and after eating peanut butter. So, I'm thinking I should stay away from the peanut butter as well, especially while I have my period. This doesn't always happen whenever I eat peanut butter, but it is always better to stay off whatever might be causing the inflamation.  

I suggest you eat lots of fruits, yogurt, and drink lots of water when you are suffering.  When your pain subsides, test out different foods: for one week, stay off of all wheat products, then the next week eat something with wheat and record your body's reaction. Then test out dairy, legumes and beans.  All nutritionists say that if you have a food allergy, you have to stay off the food for at least 6 months to allow your intestines to heal, and then reintroduce the food in small amounts to see if your body can handle it.

What I discovered was that my body reacted to wheat, rice and oats, so I stay off of all grains. My body did not react to dairy. My body did react to beans, so this recent activity to peanut butter might be related. All meats work great for me thus far. Eggs are fine, as are whey protein powders.

Sometimes I think my intestines just want to be inflamed! I have worked so hard to stay off foods that hurt, and it's hard, but this thing still comes back to hurt me.

You are not alone in this, and you are right, that doctors don't really know what we are going through.
Avatar universal
I almost wept when I read your post.  I am experiencing word for word the same type of episodes.  I have been worked up from head to toe from a gastro specialist who came highly recommended.  i have tried a gluten free diet and changed my eating habits.  Nothing has worked for me.  I have also gone through testing with my ob/gyn.  The pain and vomiting come on suddenly and I try to stay away from the ER but I always end of going due to the level of pain.  Please let me know if you have found out anything new since your last post.  I am desperate to solve this.  I always fear my next episode.  (This has been going on for two long years!)
I wish you the very best.  I understand your pain.
Avatar universal
My daughter has been experiencing the same thing for eigh months!!! Every 6 weeks she throws up and her pain is so bad we have given fecal specimens 5 different times and this time I hope there is an answer!! I am one exhausted parent!! she is only 7 poor baby, she is exhausted!
Try giving her over the counter stomach enzymes from a health food store with every meal. Sometimes a young stomach does not produce the enzymes needed for digestion.
Avatar universal
I to feel your pain. I have had all the same tests done, and one doctor was certain that it was my gallbladder. I refused to let him remove it, because other people have had theirs removed and still have the "attacks". I keep a diet journal to try to see if it is associated with something I eat. That hasn't proven to be very helpful either. One doctor said that it was all in my mind, what an *******. I have over $70,000 in hospital bills and no diagnosis. This is so unfair. Someone has to be able to help us. If anyone finds anything that could help, please don't hesitate to inform us. There has to be a cure. The only thing that remains the same is that every time I have an attack my white blood cell count is through the roof. My employer gets upset, because sometimes these attacks lasts as long as two weeks. There has to be an answer to this mystery. HELP!!!
Avatar universal
Hi, I stumbled across this post as I am also having similar symptoms. I am a 30 year old male and have suffered since my early 20's. I would have an episode of stomach cramps which would lead to severe abdominal pain to the point of throwing up and exhaustion for hours. To the point that I have nothing left and basically fall asleep after a 8 hours episode. It was manageable when I was younger as I would typically get and episode twice a year. I have now been experiencing the symptoms and episode more severe now - I too like the other mentioned cases have seen doctors and without much success. No acknowledged allergies, not celiac, gall bladder and kidneys are fine, endoscopy and biopsy with no result, barium with meal test showed up nothing either. My recent visit with the gastroentraologisy prescribed me a pharmaceutical medicine "mebeverine" a hydrochloride. It is an antispasmodic and releaves pain of the gut and spasms of that nature. I had another episode this Thursday, I took a tablet about 3 hours in, as I had to get home from work. Within half an hour as the crippling pain commenced the symptoms stopped, no more cramping. I had a headache for the rest of the day and felt a bit off but was nothing compared to what I was about to go through. Anyway I hope this may help anyone else suffering. Worthwhile sharing my experience and the medication so far. Fingers crossed it works next time
Avatar universal

I have read this post and all comments and have experienced very similar.  I can truly empathize with everyone.  

Has there been any kind of resolution for anyone?

Thank you.
Avatar universal
Hi everyone, I have been reading all the post and I am hoping for an update from anyone, my daughter just turned 19 and has been in the same pain for years, I honestly don't remember her not ever having a belly ache, but over the past 5 years, the episodes are getting worse and the pain is stronger, even pain meds don't help most times, she has also started vomiting with these episodes of pain and nausea, she has had every test there is and nothing comes back, still no diagnoses, I cant bear to see her like this, she has not had much of a childhood due to this pain, she doesn't socialize or even go out of the house any more, the medical doctors think its in her head and the head doctors think its medical, I just want a diagnoses so we can work with what ever it is, she goes from 83 lbs-90 lbs and I am afraid this may turn into a eating disorder, because food causes pain, ( any kind of food) and she links food and pain together, I do have her on ensure now, but how long can this child go through this, I would appreciate any and all advice or leads. Thank you!
Avatar universal
You had the option to get your gallbladder removed, but you refused it. So, you had already gotten a diagnosis. The doctors are not stupid. If he was certain it was your gallbladder you should have trusted him and had it removed. It is a simple laporascopic surgery. MOST peoples attacks stop after gallbladder removal surgery. Ypu are just torturing yourself refusing treatment or diagnosis. You cant really say its "unfair" when you had a reasonable diagnosis that would have not had any bad effects if it was incorrect, but you refused it. You cant pick and choose your diagnosis. It actually seems almost stupid. Go back to the doctor.
Avatar universal
Wow, with all the other people being told different stuff and the OP even having a hysterectomy for no reason, because the Doctor told her too and still had problems, you sound like an unsympathetic tool.
Avatar universal
NO CONTRACTIONS OF GALLBLADDER- Death of gallbladder without stones is easily misdiagnosed. My doctor explained it like this. The dead gall bladder will fill with fats over one to two months depending on how much fat you eat. It will not brake down the fats with enzymes and will not contract it’s muscle to push the fats out into the intestines. Once the gallbladder is full and begins to roll and give off toxins the body becomes so sick that the stomach begins vomiting violently to expel the bile. The person will vomit the stomach contents and then the dark brown bile that is greasy and smells like rotten eggs and Sauerkraut which is being pushed out of the top of the gallbladder backing up into the stomach and out. This even came with dehydration, low blood pressure, headache, and fever. I would become so pale that family members were scared for me. Diagnosis came with a test of the gallbladder’s function. I don’t remember the name of the test but I drank a liquid and a Cat Scan recorded no contractions or movement of the gallbladder. It was dead and was removed in 4 days by surgery. After surgery I still had issues with meals and fat but never as violent and life threatening. Someone told me to take enzyme pills from a health food store with my meals to help digest fat and I’m 100% better now. I carry the pills in a key chain and always take them but I couldn’t be happier.
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