What does inflammatory bowel disease pain feel like

Pain associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is different for everyone with the disease. The location and type of abdominal pain also varies with the two main types of IBD, Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), and their subtypes.

Some people with IBD don’t always have any pain during an IBD attack.Still others may experience pain from unrelated medical conditions, such as appendicitis, gallstones, or gastroesophagus Reflux disease (GERD).

This article describes the types of pain that are common symptoms of IBD. It also explains the quadrant or section of the abdomen and how the location of the pain can aid in the diagnosis.

Symptoms of IBD Pain

People with CD or UC have many common symptoms of IBD, which can lead to peptic ulcers. They can include:

  • diarrhea
  • blood in stool
  • lose weight
  • stomach ache

Pain itself is a key symptom. It is important for you to understand the body organs in your abdomen so that you can better determine what is causing your pain.

Health care providers divide the abdomen into four sections when talking about symptoms. These sections are called the upper right quadrant (RUQ), the lower right quadrant (RLQ), the upper left quadrant (LUQ), and the lower left quadrant (LLQ).

Your belly button marks the center where these four quadrants meet.


People with IBD have some common symptoms, but they experience pain differently depending on whether they have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or an unrelated problem. Knowing how to describe this pain will help you and your healthcare provider better understand its source and possible causes.

right or middle abdominal pain

This pain may feel like a cramp in the abdomen or the middle of the RLQ.The most common type of CD is called ileocolitis and ileitis. These subtypes together account for 75% of all CD diagnoses.

Ileocolitis is the cause of 50% of CD cases, and inflammation occurs in the ileum, the last segment of the small intestine. It also affects part of the colon or large intestine.

Ileitis is diagnosed in 25% of cases and affects only the ileum. People with ileitis sometimes find that their pain or discomfort comes within a few hours of eating.


RLQ or mid-abdominal pain may suggest the most common type of Crohn’s disease. Ileocolitis and ileitis affect the colon and lower part of the small intestine and account for 75% of all CD cases.

Ileocolitis: An Overview and More

upper and middle abdominal pain

One type of IBD is called Gastroduodenum CD. It usually causes pain in the middle and upper abdomen.

This disease type is even rarer, occurring in up to 4% of all diagnoses.It’s harder for you to have if only The duodenum, part of the digestive tract of the small intestine, is affected. This occurs in only 0.07% of all CD cases.

In addition to pain, other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling full, or unable to eat a lot at one time
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • lose weight

Do you know how your digestive system works?

variable abdominal pain

so called pain Jejunoileitis Can vary a lot. In some cases, it may be mild, but in others, people experience severe pain.

This type of CD affects the jejunum, the middle part of the small intestine. This is a fairly rare subtype. People with this variant of CD may also experience cramping pain after eating.

What you need to know about the jejunum and small intestine

rectal pain

Pain affecting the rectum can have many causes. This is the last part of the digestive tract, at the end of the large intestine just before the opening of the anus.

The cause of the pain may be simple, such as hemorrhoids from swollen rectal veins. They can also be very serious, such as rectal cancer.

For IBD, rectal pain is a common symptom of UC.a type called ulcerative Proctitis, is the initial diagnosis in between 25% and 55% of all cases. This type of UC may progress and affect other parts of the colon.

In addition to pain, other symptoms may include:

  • loose or runny stools
  • rectal bleeding
  • more frequent bowel movements
  • nervousness, even after a bowel movement
  • incontinence
  • constipate


If your pain is in the upper middle or with larger changes in the abdomen, it may mean that a rarer type of CD affects the small bowel​​​. Rectal pain is a common symptom of ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative Proctitis and Colitis: Symptoms, Location, Treatment

left side pain

Pain on the left side of the abdomen is one of the more typical symptoms of UC. There are two common types that cause this pain.

a called Proctosigmoiditis. In this case, the ulcers are located in the rectum and sigmoid colon at the end of the large intestine. A 2022 review of 165 people diagnosed with UC found that 22.4 percent had the type.

The other is called distal or left-sided colitis, which the same study found in 27.7% of UC cases. With this diagnosis, it is the rectum, sigmoid colon, and descending colon that are inflamed. Left-sided colitis pain can sometimes be severe.


In one study, half of people with ulcerative colitis had one of two common types, proctosigmoid or left-sided colitis. Pain on the left side of the abdomen is common in UC and can be severe in some cases.

Signs of an IBD flare

severe abdominal pain

Severe abdominal pain can be a symptom of many different digestive disorders. However, for IBD pain, it usually points to pancolitis. This type of UC causes canker sores throughout the large intestine.

red flag symptoms

Be aware of any new, severe, or accompanying pain with other symptoms. These may include poor stools, bloating, nausea, constipation, or vomiting. If your symptoms are severe, call your healthcare provider or 911 right away. The cause may be a serious illness such as toxic megacolon or intestinal obstruction.

Pain as a diagnostic tool

Pain can come from different sources, and abdominal pain is especially difficult to pin down. This means that it is not a symptom usually used to diagnose IBD or a specific form of IBD.

Instead, the type and location of pain can be used along with other signs and symptoms. Pain helps healthcare providers start diagnosing IBD or other conditions. Remember, this is just a starting point.


Most people with IBD experience pain at some point, although pain is not always part of an IBD flare-up. The type of pain is not always the same, depending on your IBD diagnosis and the exact location of the pain.

Pain in Crohn’s disease is most common in the RLQ or mid-abdomen. But in rarer cases, such as gastroduodenal CD, it may be higher in the abdomen or spread out and change position.

Rectal pain is a common symptom of ulcerative colitis. Depending on the type of UC, so can pain on the left side of the abdomen.

Knowing where the pain is can help you understand your symptoms and discuss them more accurately with your healthcare provider.

VigorTip words

If you have IBD, you probably take a lot of the pain in stride rather than complaining about it. However, pain is always something you need to discuss with your healthcare provider or gastroenterologist.

Here’s how to tell when you need a gastroenterologist