Worried your kid might have appendicitis? Try the jump test

My 5-year-old was complaining of stomach pain, and I was worried and had questions. I asked her how bad the pain was and where it hurt and whether it was getting worse. Being a kindergartner, she couldn’t answer my anxious questions with much clarity.

I was worried about appendicitis. Maybe I’d been conditioned by my early devotion to the children’s book Madeline and her sudden, urgent crisis in the middle of the night. Isn’t appendicitis what all parents worry about when a child complains of stomach pain?

I called my pediatrician’s office and got an after-hours call back. The doctor quickly guessed what was making me fret.

“If you want to check for appendicitis, you can do the jump test,” she said.


You can also lay on your back, then swing a leg across and onto the ground next to you, thus twisting your torso. When I had it this was the sign. It was white hot death, I reflexed away from the stretch like I had been bitten or something,…completely definitive for me.


When I had my appendicitis I was in so much pain I could barely walk let alone jump. It was Mother’s Day and we went to the zoo. As the day went on I was in such agonizing pain but my mom thought I was faking it so I did not have to spend the day with her. I was offered soda (something I was never allowed as a child) which I refused. When we got home my dad said we were having banana splits for dinner (something else I was never allowed as a child), I said I just wanted to go to bed.

My dad then took me to the er. It has now become a joke in family, have a banana split or go to the er.


“The what?”

“Just get her to jump and see if she doubles up in pain,” she said. “If not, you don’t need to worry so much — it’s probably just something she ate or constipation.”

I got off the phone and duly got my 5-year-old to jump. She wasn’t happy about it, but it clearly didn’t cause her a huge amount of pain. My stress level plummeted. I took a deep breath and went back to offering apple juice and saltines and riding it out.

The jump test is a real thing, Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, assures me. “There are studies on the jump test,” she explains. “They look at what are the chances if you have a positive jump sign that you also have appendicitis, and it’s around 70% — so it’s high, but it’s not a perfect test.”

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