Lower Left Abdominal Pain

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Several conditions can cause lower left abdominal pain. Since part of the colon, left kidney, and reproductive organs are located in the lower left abdominal space, dysfunction in these structures can result in pain.

Infection, hernias, and certain immune disorders can also cause pain in that area. Lower left abdominal pain can be benign (harmless) or a sign of a serious illness.

This article will review the symptoms, reasons, and treatment for lower left abdominal pain.

Woman on the couch with abdominal pain

Moyo Studio / Getty Images

Symptoms of Lower Left Abdominal Pain

Pain in this region is categorized as acute (of short duration) or chronic (lasting more than six months). Lower left abdominal pain can feel different depending on what's causing the discomfort. The pain can be:

  • Sharp
  • Stabbing
  • Dull
  • Deep
  • Superficial

You should be concerned about lower left abdominal pain if it's accompanied by fever, shaking chills, a change in bowel patterns, urinary symptoms, chest pain, and a change in mental status (confusion, for example).

Causes of Lower Left Abdominal Pain

Since several organs occupy the lower left abdominal space, there could be many causes for pain in this area. Potential reasons for lower left abdominal pain include digestive, urological, gynecologic, infectious, and structural conditions.

Small Intestine and Colon Conditions

The small intestine and colon take up a large portion of the lower left abdomen. Some small intestine and colon disorders can cause lower left abdominal pain, which can include:

In addition to lower left abdominal pain, these conditions can cause bowel changes, indigestion, gas, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.

Urological Conditions

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, urethra, and bladder. Certain disorders of the urinary tract can cause lower left abdominal pain, including:

  • Left-sided kidney stones: Kidney stones try to exit through the ureter, urethra, and bladder. Pain and discomfort can be felt in the back and lower left abdomen.
  • Kidney or bladder infection: These conditions can lead to irritation, inflammation, and pain.
  • Left ureter malfunction: A blockage of the left ureter can decrease the ability for urine to pass from the kidney to the bladder, resulting in pain.
  • Cancer of the urinary tract: A tumor in any part of the urinary tract can grow over time, causing urological dysfunction and pain.

If you are experiencing lower left abdominal pain, decreased urine output, and hematuria (blood in urine), you should be evaluated by your healthcare provider immediately.

Gynecologic Conditions

Lower left abdominal pain in people with female reproductive organs can signify a serious medical condition that may require emergent treatment, which can include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy: When a fertilized egg grows in a fallopian tube, it can rupture, causing severe abdominal pain, shoulder pain, and bleeding.
  • Endometriosis: Swelling, bleeding, and pain can happen if uterine lining cells travel outside the uterus and begin growing on other organs, like the left ovary.
  • Left ovarian cyst: These fluid-filled sacs in or on the ovary can become very large, painful, and even rupture. There's also a risk of an ovarian torsion, as well.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: Inflammation and irritation of reproductive organs can be caused by an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Cancer of the reproductive system: A growing tumor within the uterus, fallopian tube, or ovary can cause pain that radiates to the lower left abdomen.


Abdominal pain accompanied by blisters or a red, scaly skin rash located only on the left abdomen could be shingles, a viral infection affecting the nerves, causing intense pain. You may also experience fever, chills, nausea, and headache. You may need specific medication to reduce nerve pain. If you are 50 or older, you can be vaccinated against the virus.

Structural Condition

A hernia occurs when an organ, such as the colon, pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall, causing a bulge. Hernias are common in the abdomen and inguinal (groin) area. Some hernias are not painful or disruptive, but others may require surgical repair to improve symptoms.

How to Treat Lower Left Abdominal Pain

If you have new or worsening pain in the lower left abdominal area, it's important to see a healthcare provider for treatment. Since diagnosis may not be immediate, the following interventions may temporarily alleviate lower left abdominal pain:

  • Heating pad
  • Ice pack
  • Warm bath or shower
  • Laying or sitting in a comfortable position supported by pillows
  • Drinking warm herbal tea
  • Use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  • Eliminate gas-producing or acidic foods from your diet

Complications and Risk Factors

Untreated acute or chronic lower left abdominal pain can result in serious complications like:

  • Sepsis (the body's extreme, life-threatening response to an infection)
  • Damage or dysfunction to the affected or nearby organs
  • Being diagnosed with later-stage cancer

Factors that can contribute to lower left abdominal pain include:

  • Hereditary disorders: About 15% of people with Crohn's disease have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with the condition.
  • Genetic mutations: The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase your risk for cancers that can grow or spread to the organs in the lower left abdominal space.
  • Lifestyle: Diet can affect constipation, diverticulitis, or kidney stones.
  • Female reproductive organs: The gynecologic system increases your chance for disorders that cause lower left abdominal pain.
  • Age: Aging puts people at higher risk for diseases like shingles and cancer, which can cause pain in the lower left abdomen.


Depending on the type of symptoms you're experiencing, a healthcare provider may use several methods to diagnose the cause of lower left abdominal pain.

  • Physical exam: Your healthcare provider will also review your family history.
  • Bloodwork: Laboratory values can provide clues to a possible diagnosis.
  • Imaging: Computerized tomography scan (CT scan), ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and colonoscopy are just a few tests that can help identify specific medical conditions.
  • Surgery: An abdominal laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique to visualize internal organs and structures.
  • Biopsy: Certain conditions require a biopsy to make a diagnosis. A piece of tissue from the affected organ or tissue is removed from the body and examined by a pathologist.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Seek medical attention if you have lower left abdominal pain accompanied by fever, shaking chills, blood in your stools or urine, and unexplained weight loss. Or, if symptoms are severe, progressive, or persistent. Early detection is vital for diagnosing and treating lower left abdominal pain.


Lower left abdominal pain can be caused by several medical disorders. If not treated, complications like infection, organ dysfunction and late-stage cancer may result. Although there are a few associated risk factors, anyone can experience lower left abdominal pain. Early detection is essential to diagnosing and treating the cause of lower left abdominal pain.

A Word From Verywell

If the cause of your lower left abdominal pain is benign, most of the time it can be managed at home. But there may be a more concerning cause of your symptoms, making it essential to see your healthcare provider. In addition, maintaining age-appropriate screening exams can help identify changes in your health that may require further medical workup. Prevention and early detection are key to well-being.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Chronic pain.

  2. FitzGerald JF, Hernandez Iii LO. Ischemic colitisClin Colon Rectal Surg. 2015;28(2):93-98. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1549099

  3. Corridoni D, Arseneau KO, Cominelli F. Inflammatory bowel diseaseImmunol Lett. 2014;161(2):231-235. doi:10.1016/j.imlet.2014.04.004

  4. Strate LL, Morris AM. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of diverticulitisGastroenterology. 2019;156(5):1282-1298.e1. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2018.12.033

  5. Yashiro M. Ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal cancerWorld J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(44):16389-16397. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i44.16389

  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Urologic diseases.

  7. Centers for Disease Control. Common reproductive health concerns for women.

  8. MedlinePlus. Ectopic Pregnancy.

  9. MedlinePlus. Ovarian cysts.

  10. MedlinePlus. Shingles.

  11. HerniaSurge Group. International guidelines for groin hernia management. Hernia. 2018;22(1):1-165. doi:10.1007/s10029-017-1668-x

  12. MedlinePlus. Crohn Disease.

  13. Falzone L, Scandurra G, Lombardo V, et al. A multidisciplinary approach remains the best strategy to improve and strengthen the management of ovarian cancerInt J Oncol. 2021;59(1):53. doi:10.3892/ijo.2021.5233

By Serenity Mirabito RN, OCN
Serenity Mirabito, MSN, RN, OCN, advocates for well-being, even in the midst of illness. She believes in arming her readers with the most current and trustworthy information leading to fully informed decision making.