The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach that helps the body digest food. Pancreatitis refers to the inflammation of the pancreas.
In most cases, pancreatitis is caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use. Other causes include medications, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders, and surgery. In a small percentage of patients, the cause is unknown.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back
- swollen and tender abdomen
- increased heart rate
People with pancreatitis are typically treated with IV fluids and pain medications in the hospital. When acute, it should resolve on its own and pain medications are rarely needed.
Cancer and chronic disease may come with constant severe pain. Opioids and antineuropathics should initially help this. If the pain is severe and is not responding to the medication, epidural injections or sympathetic blocks may be needed. If all else fails, spinal pumps and epidural catheters may be placed to provide with constant potent medications directly to the spine and near the pancreas.