24 answers

Moderate to Severe Abdominal Pain in 13 Year Old Boy.

My son is 13 and on Sunday afternoon around 4 started having stomach "cramps". These cramps were doubling him over and coming in waves. At about 7 I called our family doc and he told me the progression of appendicitis. At the time the pain was just around the belly button. He said that if over the next 5 to 6 hours he got worse to call him back, otherwise he wanted to see him yesterday morning. He slept through the night and seemed better in the morning, but still hurting. By 8:30 they were more than cramps, it was out and out pain. He was doubling over and holding his stomach. I called the doctor's office and was told to come straight there. We drove there and a different doctor looked at him. She was not in the room with him long and told me to take him to the ER and they could give him pain meds, do a cat scan and blood work. We did this. We spent 3 hours there, he was given morphine which helped with the pain and Zofran for nausea (no nausea or vomiting). They took 4 tubes of blood and did a CT scan with contrast. He had to drink this nasty stuff and have dye put in his IV. Long story short, they came back and said the blood work showed nothing, the UA showed nothing and the CT showed nothing. They assumed that since he had kidney stones in the past that that was what he had. They wrote a prescription for Vicodin and sent him home. (I am a Pharmacy Tech, have been for 13 years) The Vicodin does not touch the pain. By 7pm last night he was crying and I called the doc back. He is stumped. He still thinks it is the appendix. He told us to try to make it through the night and be at his office this morning. The pain is just about an inch to the right and at an angle down from his belly button. So, here we are, he is crying and moaning again and we are heading back to the doc this morning. Has anyone experienced this? Just curious. I am sure we will spend another day in hospitals. At this point I just want to know what is going on with my kid.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We are actually still waiting it out on the advice or our Family Doctor. He says it is not kidney stones, he truly feels it is not the appendix. His pain is concentrated in one place and one place only, no other part of his abdomen hurts. He gave us an anti-spasmatic (LIBRAX). We are to use it as directed today and watch him, if there is any change to the worse I am to page the doc immediately. If there is still pain tomorrow, he wants to do an Ultrasound. The CT, blood work and UA yesterday showed absolutely NOTHING. He also gave me his cell phone number to reach him over the weekend. I am comfortable with what my Doctor told me, the pain is less today. I also have a hospital 4 miles from my house. Thank you so much for your advice.

SECOND UPDATE: Librax did not work, I had to take him back to the Hospital. We went to St. Louis Children's Hospital and they did an abdominal ultrasound. Everything was fine. We still have no clue. They said either a virus or an irritated intestine. They said to try Ibuprofen and Prilosec and see a GI Doc in a week. He is finally in bed sleeping.

We believe that the whole thing was viral. On Wedensday he was a little better, Thursday a little better than Wednesday, and Today, his pain is between a 2 and 4 and the spasms are alot farther apart.

Thanks Again

More Answers

He's really young to be having gall bladder, but I can attest to the fact that gall bladder attacks can just completely lock you up, you can't even breathe, it feel like you are having a heart attack because the pain just radiates from the gall bladder area clear into the chest. Horrible. AND it comes and goes. It can be triggered by greasy foods, if you are having problems with it.
. I sure hope you get some answers and quickly! I have a 13 year old son, and can't imagine watching him go through something like this while the doctors scratch their heads.

My little brother just had his appendix removed and had some very similar symptoms. His was not to the point of bursting yet but his CT and blood work did show that his appendix was inflamed so they took it. You might also have them check his galbladder. I had mine out a few years ago and the symptoms can be very similar from what I understand. Galstones can be as painful as kidney stones and I have heard that the pain can be as bad if not worse then labor pains. I have not been in labor so I wouldn't know for sure on that one.

About 15 years ago, my mother had a similar problem. They finally did "exploratory" surgery and found a ruptured appendix. They had done all kinds of tests that showed nothing.

Wow. what is wrong with those doctors?? I had appendicitis
at 13-an experience I will NEVER forget and what your son
has sounds exactly like what I had. my case was acute-it
came on really fast and I was in an operating room in a few
hours, but the pain starting at the belly button and radiating
down to the right sounds exactly the same. with me it
eventually settled down into the lower right of my belly and
I was throwing up a lot and had a low-grade temp.
I'd take him back in and hopefully this time the doctors
will pull their heads out their butts!
good luck, Mom. and happy thanksgiving!

This sounds like a blatant case of appendicitis. Get him to the ER before it bursts. Just my RN opinion.!

My husband went through a great deal of abdominal pain back when my daughter was first born. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him and due to that, they labeled it as "IBS". My husband's pain came in "waves" and was so horrible that he tried taking hot baths to help the pain subside. After about 4 months of this excruciating pain, many trips to the doctor, and a trip to a specialist (all stumped) we decided to take him to the emergency room. There they found that it wasn't IBS at all, but he had large gall stones and his gall bladder extremely infected. They waited a week for the infection to go down before they removed it. I'm not saying that this is the problem with your son, b/c it sounds like they have run all the test, but if you haven't specifically asked about it maybe they have missed it like my husband's case. Also, would it be possible that he have extremely bad gas? Just a thought too.... Good luck!

Hi, K.--

Did they check him for strep throat? We went through something similar with my daughter a few years ago...several trips to the doctor and ER, only to have a nurse suggest swabbing her throat for strep since they had had a few kids with strep present with severe stomach cramps, no fever, no sore throat. My daughter tested positive, was put on antibiotics and was fine within 48 hours!

If they haven't tested for strep, I would ask for it, especially given that all other diagnostics turn up nothing.

Best to you!


Your family doc sonds right.All the er has to do is a sonogram and they could of found out right away if it was his appendix . They sound like stupid people I sure hope your family doc is right and they yank all that pain outta there!

My son was 3 @ Walmart he doubled over in pain so bad he couldn't even walk and he watned to cry I was unable to pick him up due to me being pregnant but I tried to ask him where it hurt and we are leaving to go home.Anyway this happened a few more times I took him in to see the ped. she said it was constipation no need to worry but have him use mineral oil and that did the trick my son refused to poop in the potty once potty trained and he would only go once a week (we are oh so better now @ age 5).I have read in an article about appendicts it says beely button hurting pain but have your child jump up and doan a few times and if it is the appendictis they will be unable to do this exercise.Good Luck

Hi K.,

Your story sound very similar to what I went through with my daughter when she was 14. She was in so much pain and couldn't even walk upright and she shuffled along, she was always doubled over. Doc thought for sure that it was her appendix. She went through blood tests, ultrasounds, CT scans and everything came back negative. I even took her to a Gynocologist to see if it could be female problems. I explained all the problems and what her Peditrician thought. She ended up going in with a scope through her belly button to see if she possibly had endometrosis. She also had a general surgeon come in and look at her appendix at the same time just to be safe. Her appendix did look inflammed so they went ahead and removed it and low and behold they found 3 stones in it. The doctors were stumped. They said they had never seen stones in an appendix before and NONE of the routine tests (blood,ultrasound,CT scans) nothing detected them. She was fine after they removed her appendix, so it was the problem all along.
I know how hard it is as a mother to see your child in pain and the doctors telling you time and time again they can't find anything wrong. Keep fighting and praying!

well here is another suggestion. My 3 year old was having pain like that and we did the same thing, x-rays, ultrasounds, etc. Once we took him to the children's hospital they said "he is probably constipated" we told them that he had been having bowel movements daily and they said "you can still be constipated with bowel movements", so they gave him an enima. Well, 30 minutes later and a lot of poo later (sorry, had too), he was himself again. The doctors told us that with kids diets now a days they are seeing this problem more and more. so check with the doctor to see if maybe he just needs to be cleaned out. that would be a simple solution to the problem. And yes, my son had extreme pain behind his belly button radiating to the side and he was doubled over in pain and could hardly walk. So check it out. we just give him myralax now to keep everything moving and of course we feed him a little better. :) Hope this helps.

Especially since the anti-spasmodic helped, you might check into colon spasms. I have personally had these and been through the battery of tests, they are very painful and not much to do except the Librax. Hopefully this will pass - Good luck and God Bless you & your family!

Hi K...
I read your 1st post, and was thinking 'GI doc!' I'm glad he's going to be seen by one. Dont know where you live, but Childrens hosp. is as good as it gets. Does your ped. have addmitting privlages there?
A GI may want to do a colonoscopy...I know I've spelled this wrong.there are all kinds of inflamatory bowel disease's..
Chrones and ulcerative colitis are just a few, and 3 of my family members suffer w/ the latter...including me.
Hopefully they will keep his pain at bay while he's diagnosed.

Have you heard of something called polycystic kidney disease? There are two kinds, juvenile and adult onset. Mine does not fit into either kind. It came on when I was about 13/14 and had me in my bed in severe pain for days on end. It is supposed to be able to be seen via ultrasound, but mine didn't show up. Only via CT scan, and only because they were looking at my kidneys specifically, was I ever diagnosed.

It took five years for doctors to diagnose me.

I kept waiting for them to refer me to a psychiatrist because it didn't seem like anyone believed me except my parents. No matter what the doctors say, keep being an advocate for your son. He needs your support and love.

I'm so sorry your son is going through so much pain right now. Unfortunately, I don't have any advise to give, but as a mother of a 14 yr old son, I really do feel for you and your son. My heart goes out to him, because I know most teenage boys don't cry too easily and it hurts to hear that he is in so much pain. I hope whatever it is will pass soon and your son gets to feeling better...I will keep you both in my prayers.

Did you consider the gall bladder? I know that the pain is in different areas on everyone, and I know a few people that it took them over a year to get diagnosed, because the tests don't always show it. A friend of mine had to have a (I know I'm not going to spell this right) pippita test that showed the function of her gall bladder before they decided on it. Good luck to you hope you find out quickly I know it is worse since it is your son.

Hi K.,

THis is a long shot -- but 2 years ago I had a thing called Meckles Diverticulitis. It is the small intestine intercepting itself. It is the worst pain EVER!! It is more common in young males and very hard to detect!! The pain meds never touched the pain unless I was sleeping. They had to do the CT scan during an attack to see what it was. I had emergency surgery to remove 5 inches of my small intestine. Just maybe - have them check for that. It was a long process to find out what was wrong with me - I hope it's not the same for your son. My prayers are going up for you and your family. J.

Our daughter had severe abdominal pain almost 2 years ago. I was sure it was an appendicitis and so did the nurse we talked with before we took her. We found out it was a virus called mesenteric adenitis. This is inflammation of the lymph nodes around the stomach. Especially painful because when the lymph nodes are swollen the stomach has no place to expand. Nothing works to relieve this except: IV fluids and rest. She was 12 at the time. This did show up on CT scans. We were seeing a pediatric GI specialist here in St. Louis. After this resolved she still had pain and it was becoming increasingly worse. After several months we were referred to Children's Hosp. for pain management or we could see a specialist at KU by the name of Dr. Paul Hyman. We chose Dr. Hyman. He is Pediatric GI specialist and Pain Management physician. He speaks all over and is head of Pediatric GI at KU. You will either love him or hate him but after 20 minutes with him we had a diagnosis of visceral somatic convergence. This is the nerves staying open and relaying that there was pain. Then these nerves were telling other nerves there was pain and so it was getting worse over time. I recommend this Doctor highly. He is in Kansas but it was well worth it. We also used massage therapy, yoga (especially yoga breathing), chiropractors, psychotherapy for pain management along with candles, stress free music.............This information may not pertain to your son's pain but thought the background info along with the Drs. name might give you some help.

my brother had pain like that when he was about that age. They thought he was having appendicitis so when they did the surgery they found out his appendix wasn't as bad as they thought but took them out anyway. It ended up being illeitis sp? something to do with the illium so you may want to have that checked out.

Hi, K.. By the time you read this, I sure hope your son has been diagnosed and correctly at that. I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. How frustrating! My brother had a problem similar to this, and it was extreme constipation. It probably sounds silly, but I am assuming they checked for this. Whatever the case, I hope your son is feeling better today. God Bless.

My daughter's father as well as my friend's 13 year old son had symptoms like this. Doc's couldnt figure out what it was. Finally they went in and did an exploratory surgery of the testicles (for other reasons) and found that the testicles had the ability to twist 180 degrees!!! When my daughter's father finally got it fixed, the stomach pain went away and amazingly he hasnt gotten sick nearly as much. He had problems with abdominal pain and diarrhea ALL the time! I was to the point where I thought he was faking it because he didnt want to go to work! Oops, I was wrong.

This could be one of many reasons for the clear bloodwork on your son as well as the abdominal pain. You could talk to the doctor about this and maybe get an ultrasound on his testes. However, when my ex got his ultrasound nothing showed up. It took an exploratory surgery to figure out what was wrong! Hope this helps!!! It sounds kind of out there but apparently it is a medical condition that causes stomach pain, bowel problems, etc. Who'd have thought??

I have been going through something so similar to this with my 12 year old son.... we were in the er for 8 hours with the sme thing same tests and all showed noting....they sent him home after 8 hours with him throwing up in my car on the ride home....they had to give him 2 doses of morphine and he could still feel some pain there.....it went away after a few days but now today is back just not as strong....i would really like to know what this is....calling his dr in the am. She thought it was his appendix as well the first time.

How's he doing???
It sounds like his appendix to me...though severe constipation and gas can cause similar symptoms (but you'd usually see distention on films if that was the case). Usually, though, with pain that severe, they will often do an appendectomy even if the CT is negative (don't want to risk missing appendicitis). Believe it or not, some of the appendices I've seen removed actually appeared to be healthy, but the pain usually stopped after removal (go figure!)
Hope things are getting better...there's nothing worse than a sick or hurting kiddo!

Remember you can always demand a second opinion right there in the hospital...I've never had appendicitus but from accounts I have heard about, it sure sounds like it. I sure hope everything works out for you and your son today. BTW- if he had had kidney stones they should have showed up on the x-rays...they always did for my sister!

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