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Where is your appendix located?

Updated on December 3, 2013

The appendix is a finger-shaped, sac-like organ that projects out from the colon and is located on the lower right part of the abdomen. This small structure does not have any known crucial function or purpose. However, this does not signify that it cannot cause issues.

There are varied causes that can result in appendix pain such as bowel disorders and blockage, infection and injury. However, one of the major causes of appendix pain is a condition known as appendicitis. It causes inflammation of the organ eventually leading to accumulation of pus in it.

The location of appendix pain generally moves from one area of the abdomen to another. However, the initial appendix pain may develop in the center of the upper abdomen, or may arise from the umbilical area.Appendix pain that is related to appendicitis usually commences from the region adjoining the navel and then transfers to the lower right part of the abdomen. This kind of appendix pain tends to deteriorate over a time span of 12 to 18 hours, eventually becoming very unbearable.

Appendix pain caused due to appendicitis are of two types, i.e., acute and chronic.It can affect people from all sections of the society, but is more common in people aged 10 to 30 years. Most instances of appendix pain, particularly that resulting from appendicitis, are treated via surgical elimination of the appendix.

Symptoms of appendix pain

A few signs and symptoms that may occur along with appendix pain are mentioned below:

  • Throbbing pain that originates near the navel region and normally moves towards the lower right part of the abdomen

  • When pressure is exerted on the lower right part of the abdomen, then it causes tenderness

  • Rebound tenderness is also noticed. It refers to extreme pain that is experienced after application of pressure on the right part of abdomen and subsequent rapid release of pressure.

  • The general pain tends to increase in severity with the passage of time

  • The pain will normally worsen when the patient walks, coughs, or engages in other kinds of movements that cause jarring

  • A low intensity fever

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Inability to eliminate gas

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Nausea

  • Loss or lack of appetite

  • Indigestion

Appendix pain tends to vary according to the age of the affected person as well as the appendix location. Appendix pain is especially varied in pregnant women. Younger children may also elicit appendix pain in different parts of the abdomen.

Appendicitis is the main cause of appendix pain. It can result in the below listed complications:

  • A torn or ruptured appendix: When the appendix bursts open it can result in spread of the intestinal matter and infectious germs across the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, i.e., infection of the abdominal cavity.

  • Development of a pus-pocket in the abdomen: It may also be noted that the leakage which accompanies a ruptured appendix can result in the formation of an abscess. An appendiceal abscess refers to an area of infection that occurs around the appendix. It is important to promptly treat such an abscess pocket, else it can also rupture and lead to further and widespread infection of the abdominal cavity.

Causes of appendix pain

The exact reasons for appendicitis or other causes of appendix pain cannot be always diagnosed. Listed below are certain causes of the condition:

  • Some kind of bowel obstruction: The opening of the cavity which is present along the appendix length can sometimes get blocked by food waste products, a fecal stone or a hard thick piece of feces, and other such matter. This can cause appendix pain.

  • Some type of infection: There are varied kinds of inflammation or infections like viral gastrointestinal infection that can increase the vulnerability towards developing appendicitis or appendix pain.

In the above listed instances, the bacteria occurring in the appendix tend to rapidly multiply. This results in inflammation, buildup of pus, and swelling of the organ. Untreated cases can cause the appendix to rupture.

  • Conditions of the bowel: The presence of different types of bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can also increase the risk to appendix pain.

  • Trauma or injury: In some cases, stress, trauma, or injury to the abdominal regions can also result in appendix pain.

Treatment of appendix pain

The varied causes of appendix pain, including appendicitis, can be treated via surgical removal of the swollen appendix. The patient may also need to undergo a number of additional treatment options to resolve issues pertaining to his/her medical situation.

Removal of appendix via surgery or appendectomy

This procedure can be performed as an open surgery that involves making a single incision of about 2 to 4 inches in length in the abdomen. It can also be carried out as a laparoscopic operation wherein some small incisions are made in the abdomen. When performing the latter, the doctor will place specific surgical instruments and a video camera inside the abdomen and use them to surgically remove the abnormal appendix.

Additionally, a laparoscopic appendix surgery comes with better healing, faster recovery time, and minimal scarring. It may however be noted that individuals affected by abscess development, or those experiencing widespread infection due to a burst appendix, may need to undergo an open surgery. The doctor can completely clean and disinfect the abdominal cavity during an open appendix surgery.

Abscess draining prior to an appendectomy

A tube is inserted via an incision in the skin into the abscess and then it is drained. Surgical removal of the appendix is typically carried out after several weeks, when doctors are sure that the infection has been fully and completely eliminated.

The recovery period

The recovery period for an appendectomy usually lasts for a few weeks. It may take longer for patients who have experienced a ruptured appendix. Patients may follow the steps listed below to aid the healing process:

  • Support the abdomen when coughing

  • Limit physical activities for some weeks after the surgery

  • If pain relievers are not working, then contact the doctor

  • Take plenty of rest. You can start walking when you feel that you are ready

  • Consult your doctor about return to routine life

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