20 Possible Causes of Pain Around the Belly Button
Why Does My Belly Button Hurt?
In this article you will find 20 possible causes for abdominal pain in the navel area as well as suggestions for treatment.
Since there are many different causes of abdominal pain, this article does not go into detail for each one. Rather, you should use this article to find the conditions that you might need to do more research on.
When You Should Be Concerned About Your Pain
Please remember that this article is not a substitute for a visit to your physician. If any of the following apply to you, you should see a doctor immediately:
- You are in severe pain
- Pain stops you in your tracks or wakes you up in the middle of the night
- You have been having abdominal pain for an extended period of time
- You are vomiting uncontrollably or have been unable to keep food down for two days
- You have symptoms of dehydration (like very dark urine) because you've been unable to keep fluids down
- You are passing blood in your stool or have tarry black stools
- Your pain is a result of an injury to the abdomen
Most Common Causes of Abdominal Pain
Some of the most common reasons for pain near the belly button are quite simple and include gas, constipation, and indigestion.1
Pain from these conditions can take a variety of forms, from general discomfort to sharp, stabbing sensations in the abdomen.
Below you'll be able to see more causes of abdominal pain.
Type of Abdominal Pain
Some Other Symptoms
Sharp, jabbing pains that can occur anywhere in abdomen; can feel very intense
Belching, flatus, bloating, "knotted" feeling in abdomen
Normally they pass on their own
Belly pain or discomfort. Normally mild but can cause intense or severe, sharp pain
Few bowel movements, difficulty passing stool
Lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms, though root cause may need treatment
General pain or burning sensation
Bloating, belching, feeling full during or after meal, nausea
Lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms, though root cause may need treatment
Wide range of symptoms: include vomiting, hives, tongue swelling, shortness of breath, and others
Avoid the allergen; depending on how bad the reaction is, might need epinephrine or other emergency treatment
Gas, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting
Cramping, abdominal pain
Nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, fever
Usually does not require medical treatment, only rest and plenty of fluids
Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)
General abdominal pain
Nausea, vomiting, mild fever, diarrhea
Bug resolves itself without medication; drink fluids, rest, and eat simple foods
General abdominal pain
On-going constipation, diarrhea, or combination of both
Depends on the individual case
Side effect from medication
Depends on the medication
Talk to a doctor
Pain or pressure in lower back or abdomen
Burning feeling when you pee; cloudy, dark, or strange-smelling urine, fever or chills
Heavy feeling in abdomen
Noticeable swell in groin or in lower abdomen, discomfort in abdomen when bending over or lifting something
See a doctor
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pain in lower belly and abdomen
Heavy vaginal discharge with odor, bleeding between periods, fever and chills
See a doctor
Sudden onset of intense pain in low back, side, groin, or abdomen
Pain does not get better with position of body, nausea or vomiting because of pain
Treatment depends on the specific case
Pain that starts in center of belly but moves towards lower right
Fever, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling
Needs immediate medical attention
Pain associated with pregnancy
Can be several different kinds of pain
Cramping, intermittent pain; belly may be sore when touched
Diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever
Varies depending on the patient
Pain that lasts for hours in upper belly and back
Nausea, vomiting, other digestive issues
Many people get surgery
Upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back, swollen and tender abdomen
Fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain that worsens with eating fatty food
See a doctor — this requires medical attention
Recent surgical procedures
Varies depending on the procedure
Consult your physician about on-going care
Pain between belly button and upper abdomen
Bloating, burping, acid reflux
Treatment can involve lifestyle changes as well as medication
Reasons for Pain Near the Belly Button
There many causes of abdominal pain that range from minor digestive hiccups to major organ damage. If you're only having pain near your belly button with few other symptoms, here are some of the possible causes. All of these can also be a symptom of other illnesses, however, so take stock of your body and note if anything else seems off.
Remember that only a doctor can properly diagnose your pain, and if your pain is on-going or severe, you should absolutely see a doctor.
Not only can it be embarrassing, but having gas can be uncomfortable and even very painful. Usually, the symptoms of gas are fairly apparent,2 and include:
- Passing gas, either on purpose or not
- Sharp pains anywhere in your abdomen that can quickly get better
- A "knotted" feeling in your stomach
- Swelling and tightness in your abdomen
Gas pains are so severe sometimes that they can be mistaken for gallstones, appendicitis, or even heart disease. If you're only experiencing gas without any other symptoms, and the gas pains aren't interfering with your ability to live a normal life, there's probably nothing to be concerned about.
However, if you have other symptoms along with the gas like prolonged abdominal pain, bloody stools, persistent or recurring nausea or vomiting, chest pain, weight loss, change in stool quality or consistency, then you should see a doctor.
Constipation is another seemingly normal complaint that can cause a surprising amount of pain in certain cases. Its symptoms are usually fairly obvious and can include:3
- Difficulty passing stool
- Irregular bowel movements
- Pain in your belly or a swollen belly
- Throwing up
- Stools that are small or hard
Treatment for constipation depends on what is causing it in the first place. For some people, lifestyle changes like drinking more water, eating more fiber, or getting enough exercise will be enough to solve the problem. For others, it may be a symptom of an underlying illness or require other kinds of medical intervention.
If you think you may be constipated, try changing your diet and exercise habits. If the constipation is ongoing, however, you may want to seek medical help.
There are many accompanying symptoms of indigestion, which itself is usually a symptom of an underlying problem.4 Symptoms of indigestion can include:
- Pain in your abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Burning in stomach or upper belly
- Fullness during or after meal
- Burping and gas
- Acidic taste in your mouth
Indigestion is a fairly common ailment, though there are some conditions that can make people more prone to it, like GERD (acid reflux), ulcers, and IBS. Lifestyle choices can also make you more prone to it. To treat, you can make lifestyle changes like avoiding spicy foods, eating slower to avoid swallowing air, and avoiding eating late at night.
If your indigestion is on-going even with making the appropriate lifestyle changes, you should see a doctor to help diagnose what might be an underlying condition.
Most food allergies are caused by one of eight main allergens: wheat, soy, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.5 Allergic reactions can include all or some of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Weak pulse
- Repetitive cough
- Tongue swelling that makes it difficult to talk or breathe
- Anaphylaxis (condition that can cause the body to suffocate)
Usually people experience an allergic reaction to foods within two hours of consumption. If you think you have a food allergy, carefully note what you eat, what kind of symptoms you experienced, and when you experienced them before going to an allergist for confirmation.
Treatment for food allergies involves avoiding the food that you're allergic to.
People who are lactose intolerant cannot digest lactose, which is the sugar found in milk. You can either be born lactose intolerant (this is rare) or you can develop it over time. Its symptoms include:6
- Cramping in the abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
If you notice that you seem to have abdominal discomfort or any of the above symptoms after eating dairy, you might want to experiment with cutting it out. If that helps the problem, it's likely you're lactose intolerant, though you'll have to see a doctor to be sure. If your symptoms persist even after cutting out dairy, you might want to see a doctor to find out if something else could be the problem.
There are many different kinds of food poisoning, which of course depend on what kind of contaminant you ate.7 Most people, unfortunately, are all too familiar with the symptoms of food poisoning, which can include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Most cases of food poisoning resolve themselves within 24 or 48 hours, but you should seek medical attention if you can't keep any liquids down, are in extreme pain, have been having diarrhea for more than three days, are becoming dehydrated, or have neurological symptoms like blurred vision or tingling in the arms.
According to Heathline,8 the stomach flu is actually a condition caused by a number of different viruses that can go after your digestive system. Stomach flu can hit hard and fast, leaving you exhausted and always in close reach of a bathroom. Its symptoms include:
- Aches and pains
- Abdominal pain
While dealing with the stomach flu, it's important to drink plenty of water, eat simple foods like bananas, rice, toast, and applesauce, and rest. You can also take over-the-counter medications to help relieve the symptoms. You'll want to see a doctor if you haven't been able to keep any fluids down for 24 hours, are showing signs of dehydration, are vomiting blood or have bloody diarrhea, or if your fever is over 102 degrees F.
IBS is a digestive disorder that has a variety of symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. While most people experience these things from time to time, people with IBS experience them for at least three months or longer.9 There are several different types of IBS, which include:10
- IBS with diarrhea — comes with stomach pain and discomfort, frequent need to go to the bathroom, unusually frequent bowel movements, and loose stools
- IBS with constipation — comes with stomach pain and discomfort, infrequent bowel movements, and hard or lumpy stools
- IBS with both diarrhea and constipation
If you've been experiencing the above symptoms for over three months, you should see a doctor to work out a plan of treatment. Self-medicating either with laxatives or antidiarrheals is usually not advised for IBS.
Side Effects From Medication
Medications can have both good and bad effects on your body. Nausea is one of the most common side effects of medication. It's also possible that your medication is interfering with another medication that you're taking, causing new or worse symptoms.
If you're experiencing abdominal pain and taking one or more medications on a regular basis, you should let your doctor know.
Urinary Tract Infections
Though both men and women can get urinary tract infections, they are much more common in women. According to WebMD,11 some experts say the chance of a woman getting a UTI in her lifetime is nearly as high as 1 in 2. The symptoms for a UTI include:
- Pain or pressure in your lower back or abdomen
- Changes in your urine — if it's cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling
- Burning feeling when you urinate
- Frequent or intense urge to urinate, even if nothing much comes out when you do go
- Low-grade fever or chills
If you think you have a UTI, you should head to the doctor as soon as possible to get it treated. Your doctor will test your urine, and if an infection is present, they will prescribe you antibiotics.
The abdominal organs, like the stomach, bladder, intestines, and bowels, have weak points. A hernia is when part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the muscle or tissue wall of the cavity containing it, producing a bulge. The abdomen is one of the most common regions where hernias occur, mainly because of the sheer number of organs located here.
Among the types of hernia that may involve belly button pain are hernias of the bladder, stomach, intestines, and umbilicus. Symptoms of a hernia include:12
- An obvious swelling in the abdomen or groin that may be tender or go away when you lie down
- Heavy feeling in abdomen — you might also see blood in your stool or be constipated
- Discomfort in abdomen or groin when bending over or lifting things
You should see your doctor if you think you have a hernia and they can advise you on a course of care.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
According to WebMD,13 pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of a woman's reproductive organs, and it's usually the result of an STI like chlamydia or gonorrhea that wasn't treated quickly enough. It's most common in women ages 15 - 24 who are sexually active.
You might not have any symptoms if you have PID. If you do, they might include:
- Fever and chills
- Pain when you pee or difficulty peeing
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding in between your periods
- Heavy vaginal discharge that has a bad odor
- Pain in your lower belly and pelvis
If you think you have PID (or any other infection of the reproductive organs), you should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment as soon as you can to prevent any further damage.
According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside of the kidneys.14It's possible to have kidney stones and not know it since most people won't be aware of them until they start experiencing symptoms, which can include:
- Severe pain in back, side, and below the ribs
- Pain spreading to lower abdomen and groin
- Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
- Pain when urinating
- Urine that's pink, red, or brown or cloudy or foul-smelling
- Vomiting or nausea
- Constantly feeling the need to go
- Peeing more often
- Fever and chills (if an infection is present)
- Urinating small amounts of urine
For many people, treatment for small kidney stones includes drinking plenty of water and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Large kidney stones may need additional medical attention which can include using sound waves to break up the stones or even surgery to remove them.
You should get medical help if you're in extreme pain, if you have fever or chills, if you have nausea and are vomiting, if there's blood in your urine or if you're having difficulty passing urine.
Appendicitis affects about one in 15 people in the United States,15 and it's most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30. The classic symptoms of appendicitis are:
- A dull pain near the navel or upper abdomen that becomes more sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen — this is usually one of the first signs of appendicitis
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting or nausea when abdominal pain begins
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Fever between 99 and 102 F
- Inability to pass gas
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately because appendicitis is considered a medical emergency because of its poential for complications.
There are a few reasons a woman might experience pain around her belly button during pregnancy. Belly button pain is most common in the second and third trimester, as the belly continues to expand.16 The amount of pain you experience depends on a variety of factors, and it usually goes away. Some of the most common causes include:
- Your skin and muscles stretching
- Pressure from your expanding uterus
- Umbilical hernia — with this you might notice a bulge near your navel, have swelling, or vomiting (If you have these symptoms, you should contact a doctor)
Unless you're experiencing vomiting, swelling, cramping, bleeding, or a fever, you're probably fine and the pain should go away on its own.
This is one of the more serious ailments of the digestive tract that might show up as pain around your belly button. This disease is mainly characterized by the inflammation of any part of the digestive tract, with the pain coming from any part of the stomach and intestines.
While Crohn's disease can be caused by genetics, it may be also be triggered by environmental factors. Some of its classic symptoms include:17
- Belly pain — this can be a cramping, intermittent pain that can turn to a dull, constant ache as the condition worsens. You may also find that your belly is sore to the touch.
- Frequent diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you've been having these symptoms for an extended period of time, you should see a doctor to find out what the underlying issue could be. Crohn's is a lifetime disease that will require management and will go through worse and better periods. The sooner you see your doctor, the sooner you can start managing your illness.
Many people who have gallstones are unaware of them until their doctor tells them or until they start experiencing symptoms.19 Symptoms can include:
- Pain in upper belly or back that can last for several hours
- Nausea and vomiting
- Other digestive issues like heartburn, bloating, and indigestion.
Only your doctor can diagnose you with gallstones. Many people have surgery to get them out before they cause any more trouble.
The pancreas is a large gland located behind the stomach and next to the small intestine. It can be one of the major sources of abdominal trouble. There are two kinds of pancreatitis — acute and chronic.20 Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Pain in your upper abdomen that radiates to your back. Eating may make it worse, especially eating fatty foods.
- A swollen and tender abdomen
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar but can also include weight loss. See a doctor immediately if you're having symptoms of pancreatitis as this can be a medical emergency and needs urgent attention.
Pain After a Recent Surgical Procedure
If you've had a recent procedure done on your abdomen, it's quite possible that you can have pain around the belly button as a result of the trauma your body experienced during the procedure. Many time, the pain will heal by itself, but if it becomes severe or gets worse when you press on it, or if you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, then you should consult your doctor.
Pain near your belly button could also be a symptom of an ulcer, which is an erosion of the digestive tract lining that can be caused by a combination of factors including hyperacidity, bacterial infections, and stress. Ulcers tend to worsen when you consume acidic and spicy foods or when you become emotionally upset. In the worst cases, ulcers can have advanced symptoms such as intestinal bleeding. Symptoms of an ulcer generally include:21
- Dull pain in the stomach
- Pain that improves when you eat, drink, or take antacids
- Weight loss
- Not wanting to eat because of pain
- Burping or acid reflux
If you've been having these symptoms, you should see a doctor since ulcers should be treated promptly to ensure there is no permanent damage.
Take Notes on Your Symptoms for When You Visit the Doctor
If you see a doctor for your pain, it will help them diagnose you if you can provide detailed information about the kind of pain you're experiencing as well as the length and severity of your symptoms.
Here are some things to note:
- Consistency. The consistency of the pain you are feeling is a very important factor to consider. Is the pain constant, or is it sporadic, only flaring up from time to time? Does it only manifest when you are moving and, if so, what kind of movement triggers the pain? Is the pain worse at the end of the day or after a meal, or is there some other cycle it seems to follow? Noting these details will make it easier to find out what's going on inside.
- Type of pain. Determining the level and type of pain you're experiencing can help determine how serious your condition is. Is the pain mild and subtle, just enough to catch your attention during the course of the day, or is it sharp and extreme, inhibiting or even prohibiting movement? Is the pain sharp or stab-like, or is it aching, throbbing, or diffuse? Does it feel like it's on the surface of your skin or does it feel as if something is exerting pressure from inside your belly?
- Amount of time you've been experiencing symptoms and other symptoms you're having. Have you been feeling ill for a while? Has this happened before? Do you have a fever?
- Digestive information. Have you been having regular bowel movements? What has the consistency of them been like? Have you been having diarrhea, lots of gas, or any other kinds of bowel problems?
The more information you can give your doctor about your pain, the better they'll be able to diagnose you. Start writing down your symptoms, their severity, and their length as soon as possible.
Have you ever got pain around belly button?
- Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS. "Abdominal Pain." April 10, 2015. WebMD. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- "Gas and Gas Pains: Symptoms." May 2, 2014. Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian. "What Is Constipation?" October 6, 2016. WebMD. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- Reviewed by William Blahd, MD. "Indigestion." September 4, 2016. WebMD. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- "Types of Allergy: Food Allergy." 2014. American College of Allergy, Asthma, Immunology. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- "Lactose Intolerance: Symptoms." September 2, 2014. Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- "Food Poisoning Symptoms." July 24, 2014. Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 30, 2017.
- Kinman, Tricia. Reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD. "Stomach Flu Remedies." January 30, 2017. HealthLine. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Michael Camilleri, MD. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome Fact Sheet." July 16, 2012. Womenshealth.gov. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD. "Types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome." October 17, 2016. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD. "A Guide to Urinary Tract Infections." August 4, 2015. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS. "Symptoms of a Hernia." March 22, 2015. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD. "What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease." February 13, 2017. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- "Kidney Stones Symptoms." Feb 26, 2015. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD. "Appendicitis." January 26, 2017. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Marcin, Ashley. Reviewed by Nicole Galan, RN. January 26, 2016. "Why You Might Have Belly Button Pain During Your Pregnancy." Accessed March 31, 2017.
- "Crohn's Disease: Symptoms." (n.d.) WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- "Crohn's Disease: Treatment Overview." (n.d.) WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD. "Gallstones: What You Should Know." February 27, 2016. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS. "What Is Pancreatitis." September 25, 2015. WebMD. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Johnson, Shannon. Reviewed by Steve Kim, MD. "Stomach Ulcer." August 25, 2015. HealthLine. Accessed March 31, 2017.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.