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Pediatrics/left upper abdominal cramping


My 10 year old son is very active, plays competitive soccer and is always on the go. He has mild asthma (only using ventolin when very hot and humid weather, or when has bad cold).

For the last few weeks, he has been complaining that he gets a cramp, in his left upper abdomen, near the edge of his ribs. It happens when he is active, for example, during soccer game, gym time at school, etc. It will happen sometimes when he is walking as well, but not too often. He says it feels "crampy" and that it hurts, like a 6/10. It lasts about 5-10 mins when it happens, and it can occur 3-4 times per day, or not at all.

I have been trying to decide if I shoudl take him to have it assessed. It is not worseing...meaning it doesn't seem to be more frequent than usual or getting worse. He is eating well, sleeping well, no diarhea or nausea. No other symptoms to go along with it. I kind of figured he pulled a muscle or something, with all his activeness.

What should I be looking for? Should i take him in, or does it seem reasonale to watch and wait as I have been doing?

Thanks from an anxious mom (who is also an RN and doesn't want to over diagnosis nor undertreat her own child!).

Hi, Jennifer,

L sided abdominal pain in a healthy boy this age is almost always benign and usually related to stools and bowel habits.  Gas can get caught in the area of the transverse and descending colon, sometimes due to a relative amount of constipation.  Make sure he is having daily BM, that they are reasonably soft, and that he tries to poop before sports events.  I doubt if a visit to the doctor is warranted, unless this is getting steadily worse.  

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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