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Know the symptoms and know what to do

There are several types of cramps that can affect us. Its origins and causes are not always the same, even when the symptoms are similar. While cramps are not always a manifestation of a serious health problem, they can become quite disabling. So, find out more about the cramps that can hit you.

kidney colic

Renal colic can manifest itself through intermittent pain, the intensity of which can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain on the side of the obstruction. However, this pain can radiate to the abdomen, groin or genitals. In some cases, it is even necessary to resort to hospital services for pain relief and control.


In addition to the pain already described, renal colic may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as: nausea and vomiting; increased frequency of urination or urge to urinate; and/or blood in the urine.


At the origin of this colic and pain, there is an obstruction (total or not) in the urinary tract. Generally, this obstruction may be associated with the presence of calculationsclots, papillary necrosis, stenoses (squeezing) of inflammatory or parasitic causes, eg. tuberculosis or bilharziasis, or ureteral junction disease, or, more rarely, obstructive urothelial tumors. Despite being uncommon, the causes can also be extrinsic, such as compression by tumors of neighboring organs, traumatic injuries or idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis.

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis is based on the clinical history, observation of the patient and imaging tests, such as a simple x-ray, an ultrasound of the urinary tract and a CT scan.

To relieve the symptoms associated with renal colic, the patient is usually administered analgesia therapy and prophylaxis of complications.

If there are stones at the origin of the colic, they can be eliminated naturally, if they are small and located in a location that facilitates their expulsion. In case of recurrent fever or suffering, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the calculus. This intervention can be non-invasive (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotricia); mini-invasive (endoscopic); or bloody (open surgery).

Eliminated calculations must always be subject to analysis.

biliary colic

Biliary colic occurs when there are stones in the gallbladder that clog the cystic duct or bile duct. This is a problem that affects approximately 10% of Europeans, being more prevalent in females. This condition can increase the risk of gallbladder cancer.


The main symptom related to this type of colic is pain in the stomach area or below the ribs, in the right area. However, the discomfort can radiate to the left side, to the back, to the chest or to the rest of the abdomen.

This pain usually comes on suddenly, usually at night, and can last for minutes or hours. In addition to pain, there may be nausea, vomiting, sweating and pallor. Consequently, other complications may appear, such as: inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), of the biliary tract (cholangitis) or of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and/or fever and jaundice.


The origin of the appearance of these calculations may be the crystallization of substances present in the gallbladder, such as bilirubin and cholesterol. The joining of several of these crystals can result in stones. This situation is more likely when the bile is very concentrated with cholesterol, for example, or when the gallbladder does not empty properly.

Other causes and risk factors for this problem are:

Diagnosis and treatment

To detect this problem, it is important that the patient undergoes an abdominal ultrasound or CT scan.

Therapy is recommended when there are symptoms of biliary colic, and the most effective treatment for this problem is surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). This intervention can be performed through a cut in the abdominal wall or via a “laparoscopic” approach.

In rare cases, other therapies may be used, such as the dissolution of stones by drugs or by “shock waves”. In some cases, treatment can still be performed through endoscopic examination.

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Menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea is a symptom that can appear before the arrival of menstruation and intensify with the onset of menstrual flow. It can be considered that there are two types of colic: the primary, which manifests itself from the first menstruation; and the secondary, which appears after a period without pain.

While primary colic originates from the functioning of the female organism itself; secondary colic may be associated with other diseases such as:

  • pelvic inflammations;
  • endometriosis;
  • fibroids;
  • changes in the ovaries and/or uterus;
  • IUD use;
  • fibroids;
  • uterine malformations;
  • unperforated hymen (which does not allow menstrual flow to exit).


In addition to pain in the pelvic region, associated with colic, other symptoms may manifest, namely:

  • sickness;
  • diarrhea;
  • vomiting;
  • tiredness;
  • headache;
  • nervousness;
  • vertigo and fainting.

Diagnosis and treatment

When menstrual cramps prove disabling, it is important to carry out clinical and laboratory tests in order to detect the exact cause of the pain. In some cases, it is recommended to perform a pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound, computed tomography or bacterioscopy of the vaginal secretion, in order to rule out possible inflammation of the cervix, fibroids, endometriosis, among other problems.

As for therapy, in mild cases, it can include physical exercise; by ingestion of fiber rich foods; and by applying hot water bags to the painful area. However, there are conditions that require taking medication, duly prescribed by the doctor.

Woman suffering from chronic constipation

intestinal colic

Digestive and intestinal problems affect thousands of people around the world and can have several causes, such as poor diet, low consumption of vitamins, fibers and nutrients or flatulence. Intestinal colic is characterized by mild to moderate pain in the abdomen.


Intestinal cramps can originate from:

  • constipation;
  • flatulence;
  • diarrhea;
  • not drinking enough water;
  • overeating;
  • fermentation of foods such as chickpeas, cabbage and soft drinks;
  • intestinal infection;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • irritable bowel syndrome;
  • diverticulosis;
  • diverticulitis.


When intestinal colic is intense and recurrent, it is important to seek medical help. Sometimes, the solution to the problem may simply lie in changing some lifestyle habits, such as drinking more water and eating a more balanced diet.

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