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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2016 Jan 29;113(4):51-7. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2016.0051.

Chronic Abdominal Wall Pain.

Author information

1
Department of General Practice, Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, HELIOS Klinikum Berlin-Buch.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chronic abdominal wall pain is a poorly recognized clinical problem despite being an important element in the differential diagnosis of abdominal pain.

METHODS:

This review is based on pertinent articles that were retrieved by a selective search in PubMed and EMBASE employing the terms "abdominal wall pain" and "cutaneous nerve entrapment syndrome," as well as on the authors' clinical experience.

RESULTS:

In 2% to 3% of patients with chronic abdominal pain, the pain arises from the abdominal wall; in patients with previously diagnosed chronic abdominal pain who have no demonstrable pathological abnormality, this likelihood can rise as high as 30% . There have only been a small number of clinical trials of treatment for this condition. The diagnosis is made on clinical grounds, with the aid of Carnett's test. The characteristic clinical feature is strictly localized pain in the anterior abdominal wall, which is often mischaracterized as a "functional" complaint. In one study, injection of local anesthesia combined with steroids into the painful area was found to relieve pain for 4 weeks in 95% of patients. The injection of lidocaine alone brought about improvement in 83-91% of patients. Long-term pain relief ensued after a single lidocaine injection in 20-30% of patients, after repeated injections in 40-50% , and after combined lidocaine and steroid injections in up to 80% . Pain that persists despite these treatments can be treated with surgery (neurectomy).

CONCLUSION:

Chronic abdominal wall pain is easily diagnosed on physical examination and can often be rapidly treated. Any physician treating patients with abdominal pain should be aware of this condition. Further comparative treatment trials will be needed before a validated treatment algorithm can be established.

Comment in

PMID:
26883414
PMCID:
PMC4760149
DOI:
10.3238/arztebl.2016.0051
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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