Belly button pain can be sharp or mild, and it can be constant or come and go. You may feel pain only near your belly button, or pain that radiates to other parts of the body.
Belly button pain isn’t a condition on its own, but it can point to the correct condition when you take other symptoms into account. Sometimes the pain can be treated quickly, and other times it may require medications or even surgery.
The type of pain you feel can help you and your doctor figure out the cause. Some people experience sharp belly button pain, while others may feel bloating or pulling. If you see a doctor, be sure to pay attention to the specific type of pain and any accompanying symptoms. Doing so can help your doctor figure out the cause and the subsequent treatment.
Certain symptoms along with belly button pain may indicate a medical emergency, including:
- vomiting with blood
- constant pain for more than four hours
- chest pain on exertion
- shortness of breath, along with chest pain that radiates to the jaw, arm, or neck
- blood in the stool
If you feel a sharp pain near your belly button that gets worse when you stretch or cough, you might have a hernia. A bulge near the belly button is the most common symptom. You may also experience pain in the area near your groin.
Hernias are caused by increased pressure near the belly button, and part of the intestine or fatty tissue then bulges out. Hernias should be treated surgically.
If you have vomiting along with the sharp pain, seek immediate treatment, as the hernia is probably strangulated. Factors that make you more prone to getting hernias are:
- weak abdominal walls
- lifting heavy weights
- gaining weight quickly
- chronic coughing
A hernia can also cause a belly button to be sensitive to touch, but Crohn’s disease can cause this symptom as well.
Crohn’s disease usually comes on slowly, and symptoms include:
- abdominal cramps
- weight loss
- feeling as though you need to have frequent bowel movements
This inflammatory bowel disease can affect the small intestine, which is what causes pain near the belly button. It can also cause pain in other areas of the stomach.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen, as this can point to Crohn’s disease. Other, more severe symptoms, include a perianal fistula, an ulcer, or joint inflammation. Find out more about Crohn’s disease.
There are a few possible causes of bloating with belly button pain. The most common, and least severe, is indigestion. With indigestion, you may also experience:
- a feeling of fullness before finishing a meal
- discomfort after a meal
- pain not just near your belly button, but also just below your breastbone
See a doctor if your symptoms last longer than two weeks. Contact your doctor right away if your pain is accompanied by:
- black, tarry stools
- vomiting blood
- frequent vomiting
- loss of appetite or weight loss
- trouble swallowing
- unexplained fatigue
Bloating with belly button pain can also be caused by appendicitis. This condition occurs when the appendix becomes infected and then inflamed.
The appendix is part of the large intestine, which is why the pain is near the belly button. Other symptoms of appendicitis include fever and an upset stomach. The pain also usually moves from the belly button to the lower right side of your abdomen, and you may also experience back pain.
Pain due to appendicitis usually feels different from normal belly pain. Appendicitis can be distinguished from other reasons for pain near the belly button because the pain usually either starts or migrates to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen.
If it doesn’t go away after four hours, call your doctor, and if it’s severe, seek treatment right away. Is it appendicitis? Learn what to look for.
Bloating and pain near the belly button can also be indicative of an ulcer. The most common causes of ulcers are infections and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen over a long period of time.
If you have an ulcer, you may experience:
- a dull pain near your belly button
- nausea and vomiting
- weight loss
- acid reflux or burping
- feeling full or not wanting to eat due to pain
- dark and tarry stools
- pain that gets better when you eat, drink, or take an antacid
Even though your pain may be mild, contact your doctor if you have several of the symptoms listed above. Find out what you can do about stomach ulcers.
Pregnancy can cause pain near the belly button due to round ligament pain. You might feel sharp pain on just one side or both, and it may be near your belly button or in your hip area.
You’re most likely to experience round ligament pain during the second trimester. The round ligament connects the front of the uterus with the groin, and it stretches during pregnancy in order to support the uterus.
Certain movement can cause the ligaments to contract quickly, such as standing quickly, coughing, and laughing. The quick contractions of these ligaments may result in pain, but the pain only lasts for a few seconds. It’s normal to experience round ligament pain during pregnancy.
Contact your doctor if your pain lasts for more than a few seconds. Your doctor may also suggest stretches if you experience the pain frequently. Learn more about round ligament pain.
The treatment for your belly button pain will depend on its cause. Some causes are relatively normal and pass on their own, and others require treatment from a doctor. In some cases, you’ll need emergency care.
To treat a hernia
Your doctor will treat a hernia with either open hernia repair or laparoscopic repair. Nonsurgical treatments aren’t recommended, as the condition can worsen.
To treat Crohn’s disease
This disease requires lifelong treatment, which may include medications, surgery, stress management, nutritional counseling, and dietary supplements.
To treat indigestion
It’s important to determine the cause of your indigestion in order to find the right treatment. You may discover that you’re lactose intolerant, have celiac disease, or have trouble digesting other types of foods.
Work with your doctor to determine your cause of indigestion for the best treatment approach.
To treat appendicitis
This condition is treated with surgery, called an appendectomy. Your doctor may either remove the appendix through an incision site or use a laparoscopic treatment, which requires only small incisions.
To treat an ulcer
Most ulcers are treated with prescriptions, though sometimes surgery is needed. The most common nonsurgical treatments are antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). You may also need antibiotics, follow-up endoscopies, and H2 receptor blockers.
To treat round ligament pain
This condition is usually treated with daily stretches and rest. Change positions slowly, and flex and bend your hips if you know you’re going to sneeze, laugh, or cough.
Determining the cause of your belly button pain can help you find the appropriate treatment. Pain may start at your belly button, then move to another area of your stomach. Be sure to keep track of all your symptoms to help your doctor find the cause and treat it quickly.
Depending on the cause, your treatment may get rid of the pain entirely, or you may have to incorporate lifestyle changes.