by Jones P
(Visceral Hypersensitivity)


Visceral hyperalgesia is a higher sensitivity to the normal activity of organs 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.

Nervous System
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It is not clear why this problem happens. It often starts after an infection, illness, or injury.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk are:


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 your 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.


American Chronic Pain Syndrome 

American Gastroenterological Association 


Canadian Digestive Health Foundation 

Health Canada 


Ford AC, Lacy BE, et al. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017 Jun 29;376(26):2566-2578.

Functional abdominal pain syndrome. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Irritable bowel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Irritable bowel syndrome. London Gastroenterology Centre website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Visceral hyperalgesia. Cincinnati Children’s hospital website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2020
  • Update Date: 05/05/2021