Visceral hyperalgesia is a higher awareness of organs working normally inside the body. A person may notice normal intestinal activities that most people do not feel. These feelings may be painful. The pain when a person is sick is also stronger.
It may be felt in the pancreas, intestines, and stomach.
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It is not clear why visceral hyperalgesia happens. It often starts after an infection, illness, or injury.
Things that may raise the risk of visceral hyperalgesia are:
The main symptom of visceral hyperalgesia is pain. 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 it may come and go.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
There is no test. It may be suspected when no other cause is found.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
- Counseling to learn how to change thought patterns to manage pain, such as through relaxation tools, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medicine to lower pain signals that are sent to the brain, such as antidepressants or antiepileptic medicines
There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.
- Ford, A.C., Lacy, B.E, et al. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. N Engl J Med, 2017; 376 (26): 2566-2578.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. London Gastroenterology Centre website. Available at: https://www.gastrolondon.co.uk/irritable-bowel-syndrome.
- Visceral hyperalgesia. Cincinnati Children’s hospital website. Available at: https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/v/visceral-hyperalgesia.
- James P. Cornell, MD
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