Chronic abdominal pain is a common symptom with an extensive differential diagnosis. The work-up is frequently costly, yet many patients elude definitive diagnosis. We describe 12 obese women with long-standing abdominal pain, many of whom eluded diagnosis but who met criteria for abdominal wall pain. Each patient underwent a focused history and physical examination which included checking for Carnett’s sign and performing a “pinch test”. All patients had positive Carnett’s sign and pinch tests. An injection of local anaesthetic, with or without corticosteroid, completely relieved the pain within 10 min. Of the six patients seen in follow-up, four remained pain free and two responded to a second injection of local anaesthetic. Abdominal wall pain is an under-appreciated cause of chronic abdominal pain. Diagnosis is often straightforward and treatment with a local injection of anaesthetic is both diagnostic and curative.
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Competing interests: none.