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Abdominal pain Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Abdominal pain. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. When did pain start

    Why: to determine if pain is acute or chronic.

  2. How often does the pain occur?
  3. Where is the pain located?

    Why: To determine if the pain is diffuse or focal.

  4. What is the nature of the pain?

    Why: is it colicky, or steady.

  5. Does the pain radiate to other areas?
  6. What makes the pain worse?
  7. What makes the pain improve?
  8. Have you had any recent surgery?
  9. What medications are you on?
  10. Have you been traveling overseas recently?

    Why: to areas where hepatitis is endemic.

  11. Alcohol history?

    Why: to establish risk of liver disease.

  12. Sexual history?

    Why: To establish risk of hepatitis.

  13. History of intravenous drug use?

    Why: To establish risk of hepatitis.

  14. Family history of bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  15. Can you describe the pain?

    Why: The description that you tell your health professional will give them both clues as to the cause of your abdominal pain, as well as subtly tell them what your primary concerns are. For example, you may have abdominal pain but your main worry is that you won't be able to play in your football final that afternoon.

  16. Have you ever had pain like this before?

    Why: If you have experienced pain before which is similar to the pain you currently have, then this can greatly expedite your diagnosis and treatment.

  17. How long have you been experiencing the pain?

    Why: Pain that has been going on for a long time is likely to be the result of a chronic condition, rather than an acute condition such as appendicitis.

  18. Does the pain "come and go" or is it constant?

    Why: This can indicate whether or not you are experiencing colic. This can occur in the bowel, ureter and uterus. Commonly, the pain experienced with biliary colic is constant in nature rather than truly colicky.

  19. Have you experienced any change in bowel habit?

    Why: Abdominal pain can be the result of bowel conditions which can alter your bowel movements and habits, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastroenteritis, bowel obstruction or intussusception.

  20. Have you noticed any blood in you stool or black stools?

    Why: Bright red blood can mean bleeding in the lower bowel or massive upper bowel bleeding, whereas black stools can mean bleeding in the upper bowel, stomach or esophagus.

  21. When was your last menstrual period and could you be pregnant?

    Why: In women of reproductive age, it is important for your health professional to explore the possibility of gynecological conditions such as ectopic pregnancy, salpingitis or ovarian cyst torsion as the cause of your abdominal pain.

  22. Have you noticed any swelling of your abdomen?

    Why: Abdominal swelling in conjunction with abdominal pain may indicate the rupture of an intra-abdominal organ, bowel obstruction or simply severe constipation.

  23. Have you been involved in any trauma, "knocks" or other injuries recently?

    Why: Physical trauma, even minor and up to several weeks prior to your seeing a health professional, can be a cause of abdominal pain. This trauma may in the most critical of circumstances cause rupture of an abdominal organ such as occurs in splenic rupture or ruptured aortic aneurysm. It can alternatively cause pancreatitis.

  24. Have you ever been told that you had splenomegaly or an enlarged spleen?

    Why: Splenomegaly can predispose you to splenic rupture even in the instances of relatively minor abdominal trauma and several weeks after it.

  25. Have you ever had a gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer or peptic ulcer before?

    Why: Peptic ulcer disease predisposes you to perforation of either your stomach or small intestine (duodenal perforation, gastric perforation), which can cause peritonitis and abdominal pain.

  26. Do you drink alcohol or have you drunk much of it recently?

    Why: Significant alcohol consumption can be a precipitant for pancreatitis and gastritis.

  27. Have you ever had gallstones?

    Why: Apart from being a major cause of biliary colic which can result in severe abdominal pain, gallstones can also cause pancreatitis, cholangitis and cholecystitis.

  28. Is the pain related to eating?

    Why: Pain that comes on just before, during and after meals can be caused by gallstones, reflux or peptic ulcer disease.

  29. Does your pain move anywhere, or do you have any pain outside of your abdomen?

    Why: pain which radiates or moves through to your back from the right upper corner of your abdomen may be as a result of biliary colic, whereas pain which radiates from the middle of your upper abdomen to your back may be caused by an abdominal aneurysm. Sometimes pain may additionally be felt in one or both of your shoulders and this can indicate either a completely separate problem in your shoulder/s causing the pain, or it can indicate certain abdominal conditions which exhibit referred pain e.g. pancreatitis or subphrenic abscess. Pain felt as being in your abdomen may actually be a result of myocardial infarction or myocardial ischemia, in which case additional pain may be felt in your chest, neck or arms.

  30. Have you experienced any fevers or "shakes" like you feel very cold (rigors)?

    Why: Both fever and rigors ("shakes and shivers with a fever") increase the likelihood that abdominal pain is as a result of infection and in the latter case, severe infection e.g. cholangitis or cholecystitis.

  31. Do you take any medications, particularly steroids, ibuprofen or asprin?

    Why: Steroids can cause pancreatitis, ibuprofen/asprin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, and it is important for your Health Professional to know which medications you are taking (or have recently taken) before they treat your abdominal pain.

  32. Are your immunizations up to date, particularly to mumps? Do you know if you have been near anyone recently who has had mumps?

    Why: Mumps can be a cause for pancreatitis.

  33. Have you ever been diagnosed with any autoimmune disease, particularly polyarteritis nodosa? Have you recently noticed any weight loss, joint pain (arthralgia), just feeling unwell (malaise), blood in your urine (hematuria), chest pain, shortness of breath (dyspnoea) or loss of sensation or movement (mononeuritis multiplex, polyneuropathy)?

    Why: Autoimmune Diseases can be a cause of pancreatitis, particularly polyarteritis nodosa. Polyarteritis nodosa may in itself cause abdominal pain, predominantly by causing organ perforation.

  34. Have you recently undergone any surgical procedures?

    Why: Some $surgical procedures such as endoscopic retrograde pancreatography predispose patients to pancreatitis.

  35. Have you been recently exposed to low temperatures or experienced hypothermia? Have you ever been told that you have high cholesterol or blood lipids (hyperlipidemia)?

    Why: Both hypothermia and hyperlipidemia predispose patients to pancreatitis.

  36. Have you ever been told that you have high blood calium (hypercalcemia), or have you recently experienced renal colic, renal stones/kidney stones, significant confusion, weakness or weight loss?

    Why: These are some of the signs of hypercalcemia which can directly cause abdominal pain by the production of renal colic/stones, constipation or vomiting. It can also indirectly cause abdominal pain by causing pancreatitis.

  37. Have you ever been told that you have diverticular disease or diverticulitis?

    Why: diverticular disease and/or diverticulitis can be a cause of abdominal pain.

  38. Can you tell me a little about your usual diet?

    Why: Both your diet and your long term dietary trends can influence the likelihood of your having some diseases such as diverticular disease and bowel cancer. Additionally an idea of any new, unusual or "suspicious" foods you have recently consumed may indicate gastroenteritis which is commonly called food poisoning.

  39. Have you had any nausea or vomiting, and if so has it caused any relief from your pain?

    Why: Whether or not you have been vomiting, and whether or not that nausea has relieved the abdominal pain, is very important. Vomiting with relief of pain is an indicator of bowel obstruction, whereas pain which is not relieved by vomiting can be caused by gastroenteritis.

  40. Have you ever been told that you have irritable bowel syndrome?

    Why: This is a common and important cause of abdominal pain which is associated with change in bowel habit (particularly interchanging diarrhea and constipation), abdominal bloating, and some relief from moving your bowels.

  41. Has anyone you know been ill recently?

    Why: Many causes of abdominal pain are infectious and may be easily "caught" from people you have contact with.

  42. Have you ever had heart disease, angina, chest pain, or a myocardial infarction?

    Why: The pain experienced in many heart disorders (including all of those above) may in fact not be felt in the chest, but rather be referred to the abdomen. It is very important for your Health Professional to consider this possibility before proceeding the treat your pain.

  43. Has your urine been an unusual colour or smell recently?

    Why: A urinary tract infection can cause abdominal pain, but is more common in women and older people.

  44. Have you experienced any recent weight loss or decrease in appetite?

    Why: These are symptoms which can indicate a wide variety of diseases, including gastric cancer, cancers and many chronic diseases.

  45. Is there any appetite change (see appetite changes?)
  46. Is there any weight loss (see weight loss)
  47. Is there any nausea or vomiting (see nausea) (see vomiting)
  48. Is there any heartburn (see heartburn) or reflux symptoms
  49. Is there any difficulty with swallowing (see swallowing difficulty)
  50. Is there any diarrhea (see diarrhea)
  51. Is there any constipation (see constipation)
  52. Is there any blood in the bowels (see bloody stool)
  53. Is there any jaundice (see jaundice-like symptoms)
  54. Is there any blood in the urine (see blood in urine)
  55. Is there a fever (see fever)
  56. Is there any abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding after menopause, bleeding in between the periods or bleeding after intercourse?
  57. Is there any vaginal discharge (see vaginal discharge)
  58. Questions to establish if abdominal pain may be due to a condition outside the abdomen

    Why: e.g. pneumonia (cough, shortness of breath); heart attack (chest pain).

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Abdominal pain:

The following list of conditions have 'Abdominal pain' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Abdominal pain or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Conditions listing medical complications: Abdominal pain:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Abdominal pain' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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