The general appearance of the patient often furnishes valuable information as to the nature of the condition. Patients with renal or biliary colic writhe in bed. They squirm constantly and can find no comfortable position. In contrast, patients with peritonitis, who have intense pain on movement, characteristically remain still in bed because any slight motion worsens the pain. They may be lying in bed with their knees drawn up to help relax the abdominal muscles and reduce intra-abdominal pressure. Patients who are pale and sweating may be suffering from the initial shock of pancreatitis or a perforated gastric ulcer.
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