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Causes of a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen

author image Robyn Hughes
Robyn Hughes has been writing since 2008 about health, nutrition, fitness and botanical medicine. She is a naturopathic physician and freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science from Indiana University and a doctoral degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore.
Causes of a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen
Sudden sharp pain in the lower left abdomen may be cause for concern. Photo Credit Igor Mojzes/iStock/Getty Images


Pain in your lower left abdomen can occur for several reasons. Because there are many organs in the abdomen, deciphering the source of this pain can be challenging. Sudden abdominal pain can also be a sign of a life-threatening situation. Seek medical attention right away for an accurate diagnosis if you experience sudden, sharp abdominal pain with an unknown cause.


Causes of a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen
Nausea, vomiting, fever and cramping can accompany diverticulitis. Photo Credit Ana Blazic/iStock/Getty Images

A diverticulum is a small pouch that forms from a weakened area in the intestinal wall. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, or NDDIC, approximately 10 percent of Americans over age 40 and half of Americans over age 60 have diverticula on their large intestine. Diverticula do not cause symptoms in and of themselves, but if they become inflamed--a condition called diverticulitis--abdominal pain ensues. The pain is usually located in the lower left section of the abdomen. It may arise suddenly and become severe. Additional symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, cramping and changes in bowel habits. Diverticulitis can lead to worse complications, such as rectal bleeding, perforations of the intestinal wall, further infection within the abdomen and colon blockages. The NDDIC suggests that a high fiber diet and exercise may help prevent the formation of diverticula and the associated condition of diverticulitis.

Kidney Stone

Causes of a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen
Kidney stones are caused by urolithiasis. Photo Credit choicegraphx/iStock/Getty Images

Urolithiasis, a condition where stones form in kidneys or ureters, is one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. The stones form when crystals abnormally separate from the urine while it progresses through the urinary tract. If a large stone forms in the left kidney, it can cause sharp and cramping pain on that side of the abdomen, usually in the lower quadrant. The pain may also be felt in the left mid-back, side and groin. Accompanying symptoms may be nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine and pain with urination. Many kidney stones pass through the body if a person gets sufficient rest and drinks large amounts of water. However, if a stone does not pass or kidney infection occurs, medical intervention becomes necessary. Kidney stones can be prevented by staying sufficiently hydrated.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Causes of a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen
Sudden pain in the lower left abdomen can result from an ectopic pregnancy. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Sudden pain in the lower left abdomen can result from an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterus, most typically in a uterine tube, also called a fallopian tube. MedlinePlus, a division of the National Institutes of Health, reports that up to one percent of pregnancies are ectopic. Such a pregnancy is non-viable, and it causes symptoms of pain on the side where the pregnancy occurs. The pain occurs on the lower abdomen, lower back and pelvis. Additionally, there may be nausea, abnormal vaginal bleeding and breast tenderness. When there is concern of an ectopic pregnancy, medical attention is warranted.

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