Upper abdomen & back pain

Posted by cristina9532 @cristina9532, Sep 15, 2020

Hi everyone,

I've found this group suggested on a different Mayo Clinic question and thought I'd add here what's worrying me. My father (53) has been having on and off abdominal pain (started on the right, under his ribcage and sometimes moves to the left) for the past 3 weeks or so. Last night he also complained about lower centre back pain. He's a very fit man, has a very physical job and has a pretty balanced diet. However, I've never heard him complain about this "dull pressure" in his abdomen the way he is complaining now. I'm super scared as I suffer from very bad health anxiety which comes back at least once a year. A few years ago I was convinced I had a brain tumor, which turned out to be a very bad case of vitamin D deficiency. I know reading up stuff on the Internet will do me no good and I'm trying to limit it, but it's still something I struggle with.

We went to our family doctor a few days ago, he did a physical exam and just said he shouldn't worry about anything as long as these are the only symptoms he has. I was a bit shocked hearing that. I'm worried about it being PC. I'm trying to convince him to go get a CT scan done as I don't want us to wait until worse symptoms appear.

For some context, he did get a pretty bad back strain a couple of weeks ago, pain was there for a few days and then slowly it got better. I'm thinking the pain from last night could be for that? But his back has been alright for more than week so why this sudden reappearance? He also just told me today that he thinks the pain usually comes after doing physical effort. The way he describes it is like the spleen pain you get after running a long distance.

Thanks for listening to my rant. Any thoughts?

@cristina9532 – Hi and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect! I understand how worried you must be to see your father having undiagnosed abdominal pain. Your FP did not order any tests? I agree with you that your father should have more diagnostic tests done. I can think of abdominal ultrasound, CT, lab work and EKG.
Remember, we are not doctors, but members who have gone through various difficult to diagnose illnesses or more common problems wanting to connect with others.
I can’t tell you where to go, but he needs someone experienced in Internal Medicine. If you have a major university hospital nearby you could call and get an appointment. Obviously, if the pain gets bad enough, he should go to ER where they would do a lot of these tests.
I hope he can be seen soon- unusual to have abdominal pain for so long.
Can you get back to us when you know more?

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Hi @cristina9532 – I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with @astaingegerdm. Thank you for advocating for your father. Here is some more information you may find helpful – Abdominal Pain Causes by Location: Upper, Lower, Left, Right: https://www.medicinenet.com/abdominal_pain_causes/views.htm.

I agree with @astaingegerdm that it would be good to seek treatment at a large teaching hospital or health facility like Mayo Clinic. If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, contact one of the appointment offices. The contact information for Minnesota, Arizona and Florida can be found here http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63.

You mentioned that your father is very fit and the pain usually comes after some physical effort. Are you able to keep track of the physical activity your father was doing before the pain occurred? That might be good to provide to the doctors.

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@astaingegerdm

@cristina9532 – Hi and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect! I understand how worried you must be to see your father having undiagnosed abdominal pain. Your FP did not order any tests? I agree with you that your father should have more diagnostic tests done. I can think of abdominal ultrasound, CT, lab work and EKG.
Remember, we are not doctors, but members who have gone through various difficult to diagnose illnesses or more common problems wanting to connect with others.
I can’t tell you where to go, but he needs someone experienced in Internal Medicine. If you have a major university hospital nearby you could call and get an appointment. Obviously, if the pain gets bad enough, he should go to ER where they would do a lot of these tests.
I hope he can be seen soon- unusual to have abdominal pain for so long.
Can you get back to us when you know more?

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Hi Ingegerd and thank you for taking the time to reply to this, I appreciate it. Our GP is currently on holiday so we're waiting for him to get back to refer my father for a CT scan hopefully. The pain is not severe so I don't think he could go to the ER. He actually had absolutely no symptoms for a few days and now they're back.

It's not even that they're bad, he says it doesn't feel like pain, but rather like a fullness / bloating on his left side and sometimes right side. No back pain since that one evening. He also says he's constipated and that also went away those few days he had no abdominal issues. The GP comes back in a week so fingers crossed everything goes well.

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@johnbishop

Hi @cristina9532 – I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with @astaingegerdm. Thank you for advocating for your father. Here is some more information you may find helpful – Abdominal Pain Causes by Location: Upper, Lower, Left, Right: https://www.medicinenet.com/abdominal_pain_causes/views.htm.

I agree with @astaingegerdm that it would be good to seek treatment at a large teaching hospital or health facility like Mayo Clinic. If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, contact one of the appointment offices. The contact information for Minnesota, Arizona and Florida can be found here http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63.

You mentioned that your father is very fit and the pain usually comes after some physical effort. Are you able to keep track of the physical activity your father was doing before the pain occurred? That might be good to provide to the doctors.

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Hi John! Unfortunately we're based in Germany, so we don't have access to the Mayo Clinic. We've been trying to track the "pain" (rather discomfort) but it seems rather random now that we thought about it. It doesn't intensify after eating or anything like that. He sometimes gets it first thing in the morning, before having anything to drink or eat. Thanks for your recommendations!

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@cristina9532 – Thank you for getting back to us! It does not sound as if your father is worse, thank goodness. I hope you get to see your GP as soon as he is back. You seem more confident now knowing what to do. Are you using the German Health system?

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@astaingegerdm

@cristina9532 – Thank you for getting back to us! It does not sound as if your father is worse, thank goodness. I hope you get to see your GP as soon as he is back. You seem more confident now knowing what to do. Are you using the German Health system?

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We went to the GP yesterday and he did a physical exam again. He said he's sure there's gas / air trapped in there and it's what's causing the bloating / pain. He prescribed some medicine and we'll see how that goes and that he can't advise him to get an ultrasound right now as from a clinical perspective, there are no other symptoms to worry about. I feel slightly more at ease given his confidence but still somewhat worried as I've seen plenty of people misdiagnosed who were given the same medication when in reality there was something much more wrong going on. And yes, we're using the German Health system.

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@cristina9532 – If your father’s symptoms are not improved with the new medication, you should go back to the doctor and request testing.

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@cristina9532

We went to the GP yesterday and he did a physical exam again. He said he's sure there's gas / air trapped in there and it's what's causing the bloating / pain. He prescribed some medicine and we'll see how that goes and that he can't advise him to get an ultrasound right now as from a clinical perspective, there are no other symptoms to worry about. I feel slightly more at ease given his confidence but still somewhat worried as I've seen plenty of people misdiagnosed who were given the same medication when in reality there was something much more wrong going on. And yes, we're using the German Health system.

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Hello @cristina9532, I agree with @astaingegerdm. If your father's symptoms are not vastly better after a week on the new med you should request additional testing.

You might also consider keeping a food journal to see if there are specific food triggers that cause more discomfort. Gluten is often a problem for many people, especially as they age.

Perhaps you could suggest to his doctor that he/she run an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound in order to rule out anything more serious than a gas problem.

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@astaingegerdm

@cristina9532 – If your father’s symptoms are not improved with the new medication, you should go back to the doctor and request testing.

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the only thing that helps me is making sure that I follow the FODMAP diet guidelines. When I don't, I get that trapped gas and bloating. Miserable. I copied the chart and I have the app on my phone.

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I first learned I had an issue with particular foods was when my son was in the 2nd grade and I was on a field trip with his class. I ate an apple and had the worst bloating and stomach ache in the center of my stomach. An attack that I became familiar with off and on for years but didn't know why. That was 45 years ago and I am finally "getting" it. It is about certain foods. A lot of people can eat a lot of things but I cannot. I just can't.

Shared files

IBSDiets-FODMAP-chart (IBSDiets-FODMAP-chart.pdf)

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Hi all,
I'm coming here with an update. We honestly don't know what to believe anymore. My dad took the prescribed meds for a week (that's what the doctor said), but things didn't seem to improve. They didn't necessarily get worse either. Pain / bloating is just there, not excruciating and not constant, but still there. Something strange happened last night, he had a fever (102) and severe shivers / chills. He also said the abdominal pain seemed to get worse. Because of the fever and chills (and well, the state of the world RN), this morning we decided to go to the ER. I remember reading about PC and fever / chills so of course my hypochondria kicked in immediately. We got to the ER and we told the doctor about the symptoms, we told him we've seen our GP several times and he won't refer him for an ultrasound. So the doctor in the ER decided to run blood tests and do an ultrasound. Everything came back clear. He said he couldn't see anything wrong on the ultrasound and the blood tests only showed a slight trace of infection, but nothing to worry about. Said to just take some paracetamol and ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and fever. We got home and that's what we're doing. Still, now that he got the ultrasound and nothing was there, am I crazy to still think it's extremely strange to have such prolonged abdominal pain and no explanation for it?

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@cristina9532

Hi all,
I'm coming here with an update. We honestly don't know what to believe anymore. My dad took the prescribed meds for a week (that's what the doctor said), but things didn't seem to improve. They didn't necessarily get worse either. Pain / bloating is just there, not excruciating and not constant, but still there. Something strange happened last night, he had a fever (102) and severe shivers / chills. He also said the abdominal pain seemed to get worse. Because of the fever and chills (and well, the state of the world RN), this morning we decided to go to the ER. I remember reading about PC and fever / chills so of course my hypochondria kicked in immediately. We got to the ER and we told the doctor about the symptoms, we told him we've seen our GP several times and he won't refer him for an ultrasound. So the doctor in the ER decided to run blood tests and do an ultrasound. Everything came back clear. He said he couldn't see anything wrong on the ultrasound and the blood tests only showed a slight trace of infection, but nothing to worry about. Said to just take some paracetamol and ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and fever. We got home and that's what we're doing. Still, now that he got the ultrasound and nothing was there, am I crazy to still think it's extremely strange to have such prolonged abdominal pain and no explanation for it?

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Hi @cristina9532,

I can sense the frustration you and your dad are experiencing and that is quite normal. From your posts, it appears as if your dad is depending on his GP or the ER to look for answers to his abdominal pain, however, it sounds like your dad needs a specialist in order to understand this continual pain.

It is the right of every patient to get a second opinion if your current doctor is not able to give you answers.
Have you considered asking for a referral to a GI specialist for a second opinion?

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@cristina9532

Hi all,
I'm coming here with an update. We honestly don't know what to believe anymore. My dad took the prescribed meds for a week (that's what the doctor said), but things didn't seem to improve. They didn't necessarily get worse either. Pain / bloating is just there, not excruciating and not constant, but still there. Something strange happened last night, he had a fever (102) and severe shivers / chills. He also said the abdominal pain seemed to get worse. Because of the fever and chills (and well, the state of the world RN), this morning we decided to go to the ER. I remember reading about PC and fever / chills so of course my hypochondria kicked in immediately. We got to the ER and we told the doctor about the symptoms, we told him we've seen our GP several times and he won't refer him for an ultrasound. So the doctor in the ER decided to run blood tests and do an ultrasound. Everything came back clear. He said he couldn't see anything wrong on the ultrasound and the blood tests only showed a slight trace of infection, but nothing to worry about. Said to just take some paracetamol and ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and fever. We got home and that's what we're doing. Still, now that he got the ultrasound and nothing was there, am I crazy to still think it's extremely strange to have such prolonged abdominal pain and no explanation for it?

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He and you are not crazy. I spent a few days with bloating, pain and dizziness which scared me to death. I even tripped on a sidewalk elevation because my head felt as if it was spinning. I get in front of the mirror every day to see if I look sick and I don't. My husband doesn't think so either. I am usually struggling with IBS-C and I am really careful about my diet but still I felt really sick sick sick. The most sick I have felt in forever. No fever just terror. I couldn't wait to get home and never go out again. I journal daily and I realized that it is the confinement, the fear of dying of Covid, the lurking presence of it out there and nowhere to run. I can't get away from it. My son-in-law is in the hospital with it, my friends daughter dying with it. 2 sons of mine have died not related to Covid but one was only 32, the other 40 of a heart attack. 2 long marriages and both of them have died, parents are dead, my home burned all the way up…….all that I could see. Covid-19 is invisible and breathing down our necks. If I don't go out I'll whither away. No appetite, I miss my friends and activities. No end in sight.

REPLY
@cristina9532

Hi all,
I'm coming here with an update. We honestly don't know what to believe anymore. My dad took the prescribed meds for a week (that's what the doctor said), but things didn't seem to improve. They didn't necessarily get worse either. Pain / bloating is just there, not excruciating and not constant, but still there. Something strange happened last night, he had a fever (102) and severe shivers / chills. He also said the abdominal pain seemed to get worse. Because of the fever and chills (and well, the state of the world RN), this morning we decided to go to the ER. I remember reading about PC and fever / chills so of course my hypochondria kicked in immediately. We got to the ER and we told the doctor about the symptoms, we told him we've seen our GP several times and he won't refer him for an ultrasound. So the doctor in the ER decided to run blood tests and do an ultrasound. Everything came back clear. He said he couldn't see anything wrong on the ultrasound and the blood tests only showed a slight trace of infection, but nothing to worry about. Said to just take some paracetamol and ibuprofen to alleviate the pain and fever. We got home and that's what we're doing. Still, now that he got the ultrasound and nothing was there, am I crazy to still think it's extremely strange to have such prolonged abdominal pain and no explanation for it?

Jump to this post

@cristina9532 – Hi Cristina!
I think you are handling things very well, helping your father. He definitely has something going on, having a fever suddenly. Blood test confirmed infection. Ultrasound normal is also good.
I’m thinking of illnesses your Dad could have –
Gallbladder problem/ pancreatitis should have shown on ultrasound- no guarantee though.
Appendicitis should also show- he would most likely be sicker too.
Diverticulitis is fairly common, probably wouldn’t show on ultrasound.
Kidney stones and urinary tract infection?
In Germany I assume your GP would have to give you a referral to see a specialist? Such as a Gastroenterologist.
If you are near a university with a medical school they have specialty clinics. I’m trying to think out loud here and maybe it will help you deciding what to do next. Your GP should be in charge of finding out what ails your father.
Let’s keep talking!

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@donnacarp

He and you are not crazy. I spent a few days with bloating, pain and dizziness which scared me to death. I even tripped on a sidewalk elevation because my head felt as if it was spinning. I get in front of the mirror every day to see if I look sick and I don't. My husband doesn't think so either. I am usually struggling with IBS-C and I am really careful about my diet but still I felt really sick sick sick. The most sick I have felt in forever. No fever just terror. I couldn't wait to get home and never go out again. I journal daily and I realized that it is the confinement, the fear of dying of Covid, the lurking presence of it out there and nowhere to run. I can't get away from it. My son-in-law is in the hospital with it, my friends daughter dying with it. 2 sons of mine have died not related to Covid but one was only 32, the other 40 of a heart attack. 2 long marriages and both of them have died, parents are dead, my home burned all the way up…….all that I could see. Covid-19 is invisible and breathing down our necks. If I don't go out I'll whither away. No appetite, I miss my friends and activities. No end in sight.

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Hello @donnacarp,

You have personally experienced a lot of losses, @donnacrap. The COVID problem has created a lot of stress for all of us. It is more difficult when you have a chronic illness as you have in your life. Mayo just recently posted a podcast on this very topic! It's called Mental Health and Coping with the Pandemic.

Here is the link where you can watch and listen to this great information, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/podcasts/newsfeed-post/mental-health-and-coping-during-the-pandemic/?

Please give it a listen and let me know if you think.

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