As much as most of us hate to experience pain, it actually serves an important purpose, and is actually a necessary function. Pain is your body’s way of telling the brain that something is not right, and the current activity needs to be stopped. Without pain, you could do severe damage to your body parts, and never know it until it was too late. You would be unaware of infections, and potentially serious health issues, and would probably not live very long at all.
Human pain receptors and transmitters are so efficient that many responses are automatic, such as jerking your hand away from a heat source when the temperature triggers the pain response. In many cases, pain is a signal that actual tissue damage is occurring. You would be wise to pay attention to pain signals, even when mild. Contrary to popular belief, pain of any kind is not ‘normal’, no matter how common it may be.
The location, and type of pain can often give clues as to the cause. One area you need to be concerned about is the lower right abdomen. For medical purposes, the abdomen is divided into 4 quadrants, with the navel, or “Belly Button” (umbilicus for those of us with medical training) as the hub. The Right Lower Quadrant (RLQ) is to the right (distal to) and below (inferior to) the navel (umbilicus). It contains the Cecum (beginning of the large intestine, or colon), the Ascending Colon, the Appendix, Right Ovary, Right Fallopian Tube, Right Ureter, lots of blood vessels, some muscles, and a few other assorted items. All of these are subject to disease and injury, as well as malfunctions. In addition to injuries, pain in the Right Lower Quadrant can be indicative of:
- Gastroenteritis- inflammation of the small intestine
- Mesenteric adenitis- inflammation of the mesentericlymph nodes, sometimes misdiagnosed as Acute Appendicitis.
- Meckel’s diverticulum- abnormal pouch in the small intestine, present at birth. Normally of little consequence, it can become inflamed. Sometimes misdiagnosed as Acute Appendicitis.
- Intussusception-a type of obstruction in the small intestine, possibly serious.
- Enteritis- inflammation of the small intestine
- Renal Colic-usually caused by Kidney Stones, which pass painfully, but harmlessly in most cases.
- Pelvic Inflamatory Disease (PID)- inflammation of the Fallopian Tubes, uterus, or ovaries.
- Ectopic Pregnancy- an embryo implanting outside the uterus.
- Endometriosis- a gynecological condition in which the uterine tissue begins to grow and accumulate outside the uterine cavity.
- Ovarian Cyst-abnormal nodes on the ovaries, usually harmless, but can sometimes become inflamed.
- Mesenteric Ischemia- a type of inflammation of the small intestine
- Cancer- abnormal tissue growth, sometimes malignant.
Any time you feel pain in the Right Lower Quadrant, you should see a physician, especially if it is accompanied by fever, or bleeding. Your physician has the training and equipment to make a correct diagnosis, and formulate an appropriate method of treatment. Many health conditions depend on early detection for successful treatment, so it is better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt (no matter how slight), see a doctor.