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What Causes Abdominal Pain With Palpation?

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
What Causes Abdominal Pain With Palpation?
Many conditions can cause abdominal pain with palpation.

Many conditions can cause abdominal pain with palpation. The abdomen is a part of the body that is easily examined by palpation or touch. Certain abdominal conditions cause tenderness when a specific point in the abdomen or the entire abdomen is palpated. The location and intensity of the pain are clues that help physicians determine the cause of the pain and the appropriate course of treatment. Abdominal pain with palpation can be mild, moderate or severe.

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Appendicitis causes severe abdominal pain when the right lower abdomen is palpated. According to, appendicitis is a condition in which a person's appendix becomes inflamed and fills with pus. The appendix is a short, narrow tube that projects out from the large intestine in the right lower abdominal quadrant. Although appendicitis can manifest in anyone, it commonly affects people between the ages of 10 and 30. In most cases, the appendix is removed before life-threatening complications can arise. Common signs and symptoms associated with appendicitis include point tenderness when pressure is applied to the right lower abdominal quadrant, aching pain that begins around the navel or belly button, pain that grows sharper over time as it shifts away from the navel and toward the appendix, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal swelling.


Hepatitis can cause abdominal pain when the liver is palpated or examined by hand. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may be caused by viral infections, alcohol-related liver damage, certain medications and certain autoimmune conditions or conditions in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues or organs. Common signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis include abdominal pain with palpation of the right upper abdominal quadrant, dark urine, clay-colored stools, fatigue, itching, jaundice or a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, loss of appetite, weight loss and nausea and vomiting. Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing hepatitis, including intravenous drug use, consuming contaminated foods, alcohol abuse, having HIV or AIDS, being an organ transplant recipient or engaging in risky sexual behaviors.


Peritonitis can cause intense abdominal pain when pressure is applied to the abdomen during abdominal palpation. Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum--a thin membrane that covers the abdominal wall and envelops the abdominal organs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peritonitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections of the peritoneum. Common signs and symptoms associated with peritonitis include diffuse tenderness with abdominal palpation, abdominal pain that ranges from dull and aching to sharp and severe, fever and chills, loss of appetite, thirst, nausea and vomiting, decreased urine output and an inability to defecate or pass stool. Certain factors may increase the risk for peritonitis, including liver disease, a depressed immune system, pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis and pancreatitis.

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