Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is Appendix Pain?
This is an indication that something is wrong with your appendix and is usually referred to as appendicitis meaning “inflammation of your appendix”. Your appendix is a tube of tissue that is approximately three and a half inches long and extends from your large intestine. To this day no one has figured out exactly what function your appendix plays. All that is known for certain is that you can live without it without having apparent consequences. In the United States one in fifteen people will have appendix pain resulting in appendicitis. It is rare to see this in children under the age of two. It is most commonly found in people between the ages of ten and thirty.
Appendix Pain Location
The location of appendix pain is either in your upper abdomen or near your navel and as it moves to your lower right abdomen the pain becomes sharper.
Symptoms of Appendix Pain
The classic symptoms of appendix pain that could indicate that it is from appendicitis can include:
- Dull pain is usually the first sign and then it becomes sharper
- Loss of appetite
- Soon after you begin to have abdominal pains you may have nausea and/or vomiting
- Swelling of your abdomen
- Fever of ninety-nine to one hundred two degrees Fahrenheit
- Not having the ability to pass gas.
- Tenderness in your lower right abdomen
Other symptoms of appendix pain that occur approximately fifty percent of the time can include:
- Dull or sharp pain anywhere in your abdomen, rectum, or back
- Urination that is painful
- Vomiting that comes before you start with abdominal pain
- Cramps that are severe
- Diarrhea or constipation with gas
An important thing to remember is that if you have any of these signs you should not eat, drink, take any laxatives or antacids, use a heating pad, or taking any pain remedies as any of these because if your appendix is inflamed it could cause it to rupture.
When a person is suffering appendix pain it could become worse with sudden movements that are jerky, when you take a deep breath, cough, or sneeze.
When a person has appendix pain it is because their appendix has become blocked. This blockage could be from a foreign body, stool inside your appendix, or infection because your appendix will swell in response to any infection in your body. It could even be cancer. Other possible causes of appendix pain can include:
- Trauma to your abdomen
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Ulcerative colitis
- Infection in your gastrointestinal tract
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammation because of blockage of the inside of your appendix called lumen. This will cause spoiled blood flow and increased pressure.
When a person has appendix pain it can be a little tricky to determine if it actually appendix pain because the symptoms of appendix pain can be similar to other medical issues such as urinary tract or bladder infections, gallbladder problems, ovary problems, intestinal infection, or gastritis.
To make the correct diagnosis of appendix pain these following tests are commonly used.
- Doing an abdominal exam to detect if there is any inflammation
- Urine test to help rule out a urinary tract infection
- Blood test to see if your is fighting any type of infection
- Ultrasound and/or CT scans
One important thing to remember if you are having appendix pain that it is a medical emergency and the only way to treat it is to have your appendix removed. If you do not have it removed it can perforate or burst, resulting in infectious material spilling into your abdominal cavity. If this happens it can be fatal if it is not treated quickly using strong antibiotics. This possibly fatal condition is called peritonitis and is an inflammation of your peritoneum, the lining of your abdominal cavity. The surgery to have your appendix removed is called an appendectomy. Many times if the surgeon suspects that it your appendix pain is signaling appendicitis they will go ahead and remove it to avoid it rupturing. If it is found that your appendix has an abscess they will usually drain the abscess of fluid and pus and then later do the surgery to remove your appendix. If you have to have your appendix removed it can be done by laparoscopic or open surgery.
There have been some people who have felt appendix pain even after having their appendix removed. This is usually because the tissue that is around your appendix is still inflamed, which can be treated with antibiotics. When your appendix pain is treated by removing your appendix the recovery time will vary from one person to another and which type of surgery you had.
This is also referred to as laparotomy and with this surgery a large single incision will be made in your lower right abdomen in order to remove the appendix. With this type of surgery you may be in the hospital for a few days up to seven days. If you have any complications you may have to be in the hospital longer.
With this surgical technique the surgeon will make three or four little incisions in your abdomen areas and remove your appendix. Usually this type of surgery only requires an overnight stay in the hospital.
The recovery time can be from four to six weeks, again depending on which surgery you opted to have. In addition if your appendix burst before you had surgery the recovery time frame may be longer. After having surgery you will not be able to do any strenuous physical activities or any household chores for seven to fourteen days depending on the surgeon. You will usually only be able to have clear liquids for one day after surgery and then start drinking a lot of water and eat a healthy diet.