Referred to in common parlance and conversation as ‘the belly’, the abdomen begins at the base of the chest or thoracic cavity and finishes just above the pelvis or pelvic girdle. The abdomen contains major organs including the liver, pancreas and all of the digestive tract from the stomach down through the small and large intestines.
Where is the abdomen?
The gallbladder is also sited here. If you have a pain in your abdomen, then take your pick as to which vital anatomical element may be causing it.
A worrying lump in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen
Having read the list of vital body parts sited in the abdomen, any sudden lump that appears often engenders immediate and justified anxiety. However, a high percentage of lower abdominal lumps on both the lower left side and right sides are, in fact, hernias, unwelcome but hardly terminal.
Hernias account for the majority of exploratory medical referrals and a lump in the lower left abdomen could be as simple as that.
Different categories of hernia
There are three classifications of hernia all of which can produce a small lump. Most prevalent in adults is the Inguinal hernia where a section of the intestine pushes through a weak area of the abdominal wall. These are often located low down near the groin. The lump will not be painful unless you bend over or lift something heavy. Babies can develop an Umbilical hernia around the navel after birth which often resolves without intervention but will need surgery if it is still present by the time the child is ready to start school. Finally, an incisional hernia which is a weakness created by previous surgery for a totally unrelated condition.
What causes hernias?
Often strain so repetitive heavy lifting with a poor and unsafe technique, long bouts of coughing due to illness and unbelievably, chronic constipation and repeated straining to pass hard stools. Hernias are not troublesome but can cause pain and cannot ultimately be left without repair as they give rise to complications such as intestinal obstructions and impaired blood flow.
How do you get rid of a hernia?
Following diagnosis, you will be referred for surgical correction to repair the hernia. Most are mended using keyhole or laparoscopic surgery. This is totally non-invasive and usually accommodates a quick recovery period allowing the patient home on the same day. More complicated operations demand more complex and protracted procedures, it depends on how bad the hernia is and its location. There are different anaesthetic options such as local or spinal injection. Some cases merit full anaesthesia and these are the candidates who would remain in the hospital for longer periods to recover.
What other conditions cause a lump with pain in the lower left abdomen?
A Hematoma is a possible cause, basically, a large blood blister commonplace after an injury. Usually, the body will reabsorb this without difficulty. The skin around it often discolours which aids diagnosis. Lipomas reveal themselves not as hard lumps but as firm, rubbery or gristly mounds.
They are benign fatty tumours, prevalent often in cases of dramatic weight loss when they are no longer disguised by folds of fat. Unless there is a cosmetic and exigent reason to remove them, they are usually left in situ. Lumps and pain in the lower left abdomen can have perfectly plausible explanations without any reference to cancer.
Are there any lower abdominal lumps peculiar to men only?
An undescended testicle can create a small, hard lump in the abdomen which is where they reside before the descent into the scrotum. Sometimes one remains whilst one drops. This can be redressed by either surgery or hormone therapy.
And correspondingly for the ladies?
Women repeatedly develop cysts on their ovaries, located in the lower abdomen on both sides of the uterus or womb. A cyst is just a sac filled with fluid. There are two types, a Follicle cyst so called after the small sac which contains the egg released monthly as part of the menstrual cycle. If the follicle fails to rupture, it can then morph into a cyst.
The other sort is a Corpus Luteum cyst created by the empty follicle after the ovum has left. The follicle should dissolve but if it fails, it becomes the perfect receptacle to form a cyst. Ovarian cysts are generally symptomless, first noted by the swelling in the lower abdomen if that. They definitely require scrutiny because, on rare occasions, they can herald the presence of a cancerous mass. Ovarian cancer is labelled the silent cancer proving very challenging to detect early hence the crucial importance of always checking out a cyst.
Treatment and cure
Abdominal lumps are not visible, most people are alerted to their existence by pain yet some remain elusively asymptomatic. If situated deep within the abdomen, only an experienced doctor can locate these by palpation. An ultrasound is vital to one hundred per cent verify the nature of the lump which then inexorably suggests a treatment path.
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