Pain In The Navel : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated: 05/07/2022

Pain in the navel is a symptom of functional digestive disorders, intestinal infections, chronic enteritis and pancreatitis and associated enzyme deficiency. Soreness in the umbilical zone occurs with surgical pathology (appendicitis, small bowel obstruction, umbilical hernia), diseases of the gastroduodenal zone. To diagnose the cause of pain, X-ray, ultrasound, endoscopic and laboratory research methods are used. To stop the symptom, enzyme preparations, antispasmodics, probiotics, analgesics are used. Be sure to select diet therapy.

Causes of pain in the navel

Intestinal dyspepsia

Pain occurs with errors in the diet (the predominance of fatty, heavy foods), after heavy feasts with alcohol, under the influence of stress factors. The pain syndrome is unstable, has a moderate intensity. Patients describe their sensations as aching, pulling, stabbing. Pain in the navel increases after eating, accompanied by heaviness and rumbling in the abdomen, diarrhea.

Pain syndrome is typical for dyspepsia caused by food allergies. In this case, the feeling of discomfort in the navel develops 1-2 hours after consuming a certain product. With severe sensitization of the body to the allergen, pain appears immediately after the end of the meal. Then nausea, vomiting, diarrhea occur with the release of liquid stools of the usual color.

enzyme deficiency

Disorders of digestion (maldigestion) and absorption (malabsorption) of food in the small intestine are one of the most common causes of pain in the navel. Patients complain of constant discomfort, intensifying after 30-4 minutes after the end of the meal. Features of symptoms are determined by the type of enzyme deficiency:

  • lactase deficiency. Pain syndrome is provoked by the intake of milk or dairy products containing lactose. There are moderate pains in the navel, which are accompanied by rumbling in the abdomen, flatulence. The pains are slightly relieved by stool, during which loose, frothy, sour-smelling stools are discharged.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Discomfort and soreness do not depend on the composition of the food taken. Disturbed by constant pulling pains in the abdominal cavity, which are localized near the navel, in the epigastrium and the region of the left hypochondrium. The pain syndrome is combined with steatorrhea, creatorrhea, lentereria.

food poisoning

Unpleasant sensations develop in the umbilical region with food poisoning, intestinal infections, which proceed as gastroenteritis, enterocolitis. For poisoning, cramping pains near the navel are typical, which appear suddenly, have different intensity. They begin a few hours after eating low-quality foods, drinking water from unknown sources.

The symptom is most often found in salmonellosis, for which the "triangle" is pathognomonic - pain in the epigastrium, around the navel and in the ileocecal zone. When pressing on the navel, a person feels a sharp pain. Pain syndrome is also possible with other intestinal infections (escherichiosis, rotavirus gastroenteritis, yersiniosis). It is accompanied by repeated vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration.

Chronic enteritis

In chronic enteritis, minor pain and discomfort in the area surrounding the navel are constantly observed. Exacerbation of pain occurs under the influence of food and other provoking factors. Soreness intensifies immediately after the completion of the meal, at the same time there are urges to defecate. After passing gases and emptying the intestines, the pain subsides.

Pain in the navel


Pathologies of the gastroduodenal region

In diseases of the stomach and duodenum, pain occurs not only in the epigastric region, but also around the navel. Severe hungry or night pains that decrease after eating are characteristic of antrum ulcers, duodenal ulcers. With pyloric stenosis, complaints are made of bursting and dull pains that subside after vomiting, but do not completely disappear. An attack of sharp pain in the epigastric and umbilical region may be associated with volvulus or acute expansion of the stomach.


For chronic pancreatitis, constant, non-intense pains to the left of the navel are typical, aggravated by eating a large amount of fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods. The symptom is accompanied by diarrhea, the feces contain pieces of undigested food. In acute pancreatitis, the patient experiences sharp girdle pain, capturing the umbilical region and upper abdomen.

Umbilical hernia

At the initial stages of the disease, a slight discomfort is felt near the navel, which is aggravated by squeezing this area with tight clothing, a belt. As the hernia grows in size, a constant dull pain appears. In the area of ​​the umbilical ring, a painless protrusion is formed, which is easily reduced into the abdominal cavity. The complicated course of the hernia is evidenced by severe pain attacks with localization around the navel.


With inflammation of the diverticula of the small intestine, stabbing, aching, sharp pains develop around the navel. Sensations are not directly related to meals, but may intensify after a heavy meal, when an increased load on the intestines is created. The pain syndrome is supplemented by chronic diarrhea, which occurs 3-5 times a day and alternates with periods of normal stool.

Small bowel obstruction

Against the background of complete well-being, there is a cramping pain in the navel. Its intensity periodically increases, which corresponds to the passage of a peristaltic wave. An early sign is vomiting of gastric contents, which after a while acquires a fecal character. After 24-36 hours, the intensity of pain decreases, which serves as a prognostically unfavorable sign. A similar clinical picture is also typical for intestinal volvulus.


In the first 2-3 hours of acute appendicitis, pain is felt near the navel. They have a cramping character, which does not change after a change in body position, defecation. After the onset of pain, there is one or two vomiting. After a couple of hours, the pain shifted to the right iliac region. They are accompanied by weakness, pallor of the skin, fever.

Whipple disease

For Whipple's disease, paroxysmal pain around the navel is specific, which occurs suddenly and is not associated with nutritional factors. At the same time, diarrhea develops up to 1 time per day, nausea and vomiting. There is severe flatulence with colic-like or bursting pains in the center and lateral parts of the abdomen. Pain syndrome is accompanied by arthralgia, febrile fever, swollen lymph nodes.

Malignant tumors

Neoplasms of the small intestine are manifested by pain in the navel or to the left of it. The pain syndrome worries the patient for several months, its intensity gradually increases. Over time, umbilical pain becomes unbearable, they are not affected by standard painkillers. For malignant neoplasia, stool disorders, sudden weight loss, and signs of protein-energy deficiency are characteristic.

Rare Causes

  • Pathologies of the urinary system : horseshoe kidney, urachus cyst.
  • Vascular damage : atherosclerosis of the abdominal aorta, mesenteric ischemia.
  • Hernias : white line of the abdomen, Spigelian line.


During a physical examination, a gastroenterologist performs superficial and deep palpation, assesses the areas of greatest pain, and pays attention to signs of a violation of the nutritional status. To identify the causes of pain in the navel, laboratory and instrumental studies are prescribed. The diagnostic plan includes:

  • Radiography . Survey radiography of the abdominal cavity is informative for detecting signs of small bowel obstruction. X-ray examination with oral contrast is necessary to find ulcerative defects, diverticula. The technique provides an assessment of the motor function of the intestine.
  • Ultrasonic diagnostics . Ultrasound of the abdominal organs is a non-invasive way to visualize the anatomical and physiological features of the gastrointestinal tract. With the help of sonography, the doctor detects signs of an inflammatory lesion of the pancreas, stomach or intestines. Duplex scanning is effective for assessing the condition of the abdominal aorta.
  • Endoscopic techniques . The most informative method of examining the small intestine is video capsule endoscopy. It allows you to assess the structure of the mucosa, identify erosive and ulcerative defects, detect volumetric neoplasms and signs of metaplasia. When the gastroduodenal region is affected, EFGDS is indicated.
  • Additional instrumental methods . When voluminous neoplasms of the intestine are found, CT or MRI is necessarily performed to clarify their structure and the degree of involvement of surrounding tissues. To determine the motor activity of the intestine, electrointestinography is shown.
  • Fecal analyzes . To evaluate the activity of digestive enzymes, a coprogram is used. Signs of pathology are the presence of striated muscle fibers, neutral fats, starch grains. Inflammation of the intestine is indicated by the content of mucus and leukocytes in the stool. If an intestinal infection is suspected, stool culture is recommended.

Pain in the navel 1



Help before diagnosis

Functional dyspeptic disorders are successfully corrected with changes in diet and lifestyle. If the pain at the navel is combined with loose stools, dairy products, fatty foods, dishes with artificial sweeteners should be temporarily excluded. The diet should be dominated by cereals, stewed or boiled vegetables, lean meat and fish in moderation. It is important to avoid stress.

If there are signs of food poisoning, first aid includes gastric lavage, if the use of low-quality food was recent, the intake of sorbents. It is necessary to drink more fluids (water, unsweetened dried fruit compote) to prevent dehydration of the body. With severe umbilical spasms and a sharp deterioration in well-being, the patient needs emergency medical care.

Conservative therapy

The treatment regimen is selected after finding out the root cause of the paraumbilical pain syndrome. Treatment is mainly carried out on an outpatient basis. Hospitalization is required in case of exacerbation of a chronic disease, possible acute surgical condition, severe dehydration. In gastroenterology, for pain in the umbilical region, the following groups of drugs are used:

  • Enzymes . Preparations of pancreatic enzymes improve the processes of digestion, eliminate the phenomena of malabsorption, due to which the pain syndrome disappears. In some combined pathologies of the intestines and stomach, in addition to enzymes, gastric juice is recommended.
  • Antispasmodics . Most episodes of pain in the navel are associated with spastic contractions of the intestine, which are successfully stopped by drugs with antispasmodic action. With severe pain, analgesics are taken.
  • Probiotics . Medicines normalize the intestinal microflora, prevent bacterial overgrowth syndrome (SIBO). They are effective in a combination of pain syndrome and dyspeptic phenomena. To enhance the action, probiotics are supplemented with prebiotics.
  • Antidiarrheal drugs . In chronic diarrhea that is not corrected by diet, drugs of the loperamide group are prescribed. They normalize the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, slow down the movement of feces, eliminate excessive peristaltic contractions and associated pain in the abdomen.

The doctor selects a balanced diet that must be followed in order to prevent exacerbation of the disease. In the period of remission of chronic diseases, it is recommended to drink mineral waters, methods of physiotherapy, spa treatment. In severe functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, it is advisable to conduct psychotherapy, which is aimed at eliminating the impact of stress factors.


Pain in the umbilical region can be caused by surgical pathologies (appendicitis, intestinal obstruction), in which prompt surgical treatment is indicated. In uncomplicated forms of diseases in abdominal surgery, the laparoscopic technique of surgical intervention is used. Small bowel obstruction, destructive forms of appendicitis require an open operation by laparotomy.

For hernias, various methods of hernioplasty are performed using mesh allografts, the patient's own tissues, to close the defect of the umbilical ring. Treatment of oncological processes involves an extended operation with resection of a section of the intestine and surrounding tissues as a single block, after which an intestinal anastomosis is formed or an enterostomy is removed.

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