Stinging pain in abdomen

Originally Published: October 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: September 17, 2008
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I have a sharp, stinging pain in my abdomen, upper-left quadrant. It is tender to the touch, and hurts when I walk. What is it? I have no money to go to the doctor. What should I do?


Dear Bellyache,

If you have severe abdominal pain, it's important to visit a health care provider as soon as possible in order to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment (both things you can't get online). There are many potential explanation for abdominal pain and tenderness, including (but not limited to)

  • ulcers
  • gallstones
  • pancreatitis
  • bacterial infection
  • giardia
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • food poisoning
  • gastroenteritis
  • diverticulitis

If not treated promptly, some of these conditions can have consequences for your health. If you're a Columbia University student, head to the Urgent Care Center. (The visit is free if you've paid the Health Services fee.) If it's after hours, or you don't go to Columbia and can't visit your primary provider right away, acute abdominal pain is a good reason to go to the emergency room. Although medical care can be expensive, it's still a small price to pay for your health.