Diverticulitis: Why Do I Hurt?

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

The Pain of Diverticulitis.

Just about everyone has heard of diverticulitis, especially those who are older.  And, everyone has heard of the proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon.  But, do you know how diverticulitis and the proctologist are related?

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First, What Is Diverticulitis?

Small outpouchings off of the colon (large intestine) are known as diverticular openings.  These outpouchings, or diverticulae, are areas of the colon through which nerves and blood vessels enter the wall of the colon in order to nourish it.  The colon is a long muscular tube designed to absorb water and propel the solid stool forward to the rectum and anal canal for discharge at a convenient time.

In order to move the stool forward, the muscular layer generates high pressures.  These pressures, while beneficial in moving things along, also further weaken the colon wall, producing the diverticulae.  The condition of having these outpouchings is known as diverticulosis.  In and of themselves, the diverticulae pose no threat.  It is the complications associated with them that brings patients to the doctor.  The symptoms are broadly grouped into a disease known as diverticulitis.  Diverticulitis is an inflammation of a diverticulum.  When inflamed, diverticulitis causes irritation to the surrounding structures and to the abdominal wall next to the inflamed diverticular opening.  Hence, the often severe abdominal pain.

What Are The Symptoms of Diverticulitis?

Some of the symptoms are severe and some are mild.  They are:

  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Mild, vague, aching abdominal pain.
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain the begins suddenly, is intense, and often is located in the left lower part of your abdomen
  • Fever.
  • Rectal bleeding occurs rarely.

What To Do If You Become Ill.

Often, patients know that they have diverticulosis.  They were told of this after having a colonoscopy.  Patients may have had a prior episode of diverticulitis.  At any rate, these patients will know to visit their colon and rectal surgeon as soon as possible.

However, if the symptoms are new to you, the visit becomes even more imperative to both secure a diagnosis and to obtain peace of mind.  Your colorectal surgeon will examine you and, if diverticulitis is suspected, will immediately treat you.  The treatment may range from a dietary change and bedrest, to hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.  Rarely, an emergency operation may be necessary.  You should do well as long as you see your colon and rectal surgeon at the first sign of a problem.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

Diverticulitis is seen commonly by the board certified surgeons of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.  The doctors are well versed in the subtleties of diverticulitis.  The surgeons will see you at the first sign of a problem.  Call (310)273-2310 as soon as you begin to feel a problem.

The staff and physicians will help you through the visit in a smooth and confidential manner.  Health maintenance is important, and the doctors and staff of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are available to help.

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