Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Visceral Hyperalgesia

(Visceral Hypersensitivity)

Definition

Visceral hyperalgesia is an higher sensitivity of the organs inside the body. You may notice normal feelings that most people do not feel. The feeling of pain when you are sick is also stronger.

It may be felt in the pancreas, intestines, and stomach.

Nervous System
CNS and PNS

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Causes ^

It is not clear why this sensitivity happens. It often starts after an infection, illness, or injury.

Risk Factors ^

Certain abdominal problems may raise your risk:

Symptoms ^

The type of pain can differ from person to person. It may be dull and achy, sharp, or burning pain. The pain may be all the time or come and go.

Diagnosis ^

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

There is no test. It may be suspected when no other cause is found.

Treatment ^

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. This may mean:

Pain Specialist

A pain specialist can help you learn ways to lessen the pain. The pain is caused by a health problem, but your thought patterns can impact it as well. You may have:

  • Relaxation tools
  • Biofeedback—a machine that can help you identify and control responses that are controlled on their own
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy—learning to control the way you look at and react to problems

These methods can also help you learn coping skills to go about your daily tasks. Family therapy may also help ease stress from relationships.

Medication

Medicine may be advised. Certain antidepressant and antiepileptic medicines can lower pain signals that are sent to the brain. It may also be advised for feelings of pain during normal tasks that impact day to day life.

Prevention ^

The cause is not clear. It cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES:

American Chronic Pain Syndrome
https://theacpa.org

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Functional abdominal pain syndrome. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder website. Available at: http://iffgd.org/lower-gi-disorders/functional-abdominal-pain-syndrome.html?showall=&start=1. Accessed May 18, 2016.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome. London Gastroenterology Centre website. Available at: http://www.gastrolondon.co.uk/treatment-for-ibs-visceral-hypersensitivity/. Updated August 22 ,2017. Accessed July 17, 2018.

Visceral hyperalgesia. Cincinnati Children’s hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/v/visceral-hyperalgesia. Updated April 2018. Accessed July 17, 2018.

Visceral hypersensitivity. Royal Melbourne Hospital website. Available at: http://www.ibsclinic.org.au/causes.php?pageId=578&moduleId=186. Accessed July 17, 2018.

Last reviewed June 2018 by James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 7/18/18