The Common Causes Of Upper Left Abdominal Pain Under The Ribs
Individuals can experience a painful sensation in the upper part of the left abdomen directly under their ribs for several reasons. Some of the possible causes will include gastrointestinal conditions and problems or an injury that affects specific organs around the left upper part of their body.
The rib cage is attached to the spine and the breastbone, while the ribs perform the function of protecting many of the vital organs. The organs found on the left-hand side include:
- Left kidney
- Left lung
Here is an overview of 10 common causes of left upper abdominal pain that occurs under the ribcage, along with when an individual with these symptoms should seek medical attention.
1. IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Possible causes linked to left upper abdominal pain can include IBD, IBS, and costochondritis.
Pain that occurs frequently in the upper abdomen could be IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome is linked to several symptoms that affect the GI (gastrointestinal tract).
These symptoms often include:
- Change in normal bowel movements
- Stomach cramps
- Mucus that is white in the stools
Several factors can lead to IBS. It most frequently happens due to:
- Stressful life events
- Food intolerances or sensitivities
- Gut changes or a bacterial infection
People that suffer from IBS can benefit when they make certain lifestyle changes, like:
- Increasing fiber intake
- Doing more exercises
- Taking probiotics
- Reducing stress with relaxation techniques and practicing mindfulness
- Getting enough rest
People with IBS can also benefit from a product like PSO-RITE™. This is a full-body and versatile self-massage tool. This device allows the user to control the placement and pressure, making it an excellent solution to release muscles that are hard to reach.
2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD, which stands for inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term that is used for the conditions involving chronic inflammation in the GI tract. The more common IBD types include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
IBD symptoms include:
- Blood in stools
- Pain in the area of the abdomen
- Frequent diarrhea
- Weight loss (unintentional)
IBD can be caused by a poorly-functioning immune system, that specific types of medications can treat.
Costochondritis is a condition that causes inflammation in the cartilage found between the breastbone and the ribs. People with this condition may feel a painful sensation in their chest that becomes worse when taking deep breaths or when they participate in physical activities.
Applying warmth to these areas and using pain relievers can help to treat costochondritis.
When the person starts experiencing nausea, fever, shortness-of-breath, combined with chest pain. They should see a doctor right away.
4. Broken Or Bruised Ribs
When an injury has resulted in broken or bruised ribs, the person might experience a painful sensation around the ribs that are affected along with pain in the chest when they breathe in. They might have also felt a crack when the accident occurred.
Damaged ribs typically heal within 3 to 6 weeks (on their own). People with broken or bruised ribs can speed up the process of healing and ease the pain by:
- Taking pain relievers
- Using a compress (cold) to the affected ribs to help reduce swelling
- Holding something soft as a pillow directly against the chest when the person needs to cough
- Taking deep and slow breaths to clear mucus in the lungs
A broken rib can in some instances puncture organs that surround the rib cage. For this reason, when a person has broken ribs they should seek medical attention immediately when:
- The pain in the chest becomes worse
- They start to develop pain in the shoulder
- Experience chronic shortness-of-breath
- Start to cough up blood
Doctors usually suggest pain relievers for people suffering from pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed. It is usually diagnosed as either chronic or acute. People with this condition can experience:
- Pain or tenderness in the area of the abdomen that can spread to other areas like the back
- A sensation of abdominal swelling
- Increased heart rate
People with chronic pancreatitis can suffer from other symptoms, that often include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
A person with this condition should seek medical attention immediately.
The doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment plan according to how severe the condition is. This can include:
- Pain relievers
- In more severe cases, surgery may become necessary
- Intravenous food and fluids
Pericarditis results in sharp pains in the chest, which can also impact the left upper abdominal area. Symptoms associated with this condition can include:
- Heart palpitations combined with a heart fluttering sensation
- When the heart pumps too fast or too hard, or when the heart skips a beat
The pericardium is made up of 2 tissue layers that perform the function of protecting the heart and helping it to function. Pericarditis is when this tissue becomes inflamed, which often occurs from viral infections.
Anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and rest can assist with treating pericarditis.
The pain in the chest caused by pericarditis often feels like the person is having a heart attack. People that experience chest pain need to see a doctor immediately.
Gastritis is a medical term to describe inflammation in the stomach lining. This can be caused by:
- Alcohol or drug overuse
- Bacterial infection
- Radiation exposure
- The stress response of the body to severe injury or illness or surgery
This type of inflammation is known for causing discomfort or pain to the left upper abdomen, which is also linked with causing vomiting and nausea.
The treatment options for gastritis, involve medications that lower the acid present inside the stomach, which allows the stomach to heal.
8. Kidney Infection
An infection in the left kidney can result in left upper abdominal pain. Other common symptoms linked to kidney infections often include:
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the groin and back
- A painful sensation when urinating
An infection of the kidney could be dangerous, which is why any person that experiences the above-mentioned symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.
Treatment for this type of infection usually involves antibiotics, that is either given intravenously through a drip or orally.
In some cases, severe infections can result in the formation of large abscesses on either one or both kidneys. Surgery is then usually required to drain them.
9. Kidney Stones
Small kidney stones can often pass out of the body in urine painlessly, yet when the kidney stones are larger that often result in these symptoms:
- Blood in the individual's urine
- Pain in the back and abdomen
- A painful sensation when urinating
Drinking plenty of fluids and taking a pain reliever can help to lower the symptoms and help to encourage the stones to pass out of the body. People that have large kidney stones might require shock-wave treatment that will break the stones up or in severe cases surgery will be required for removal.
10. Enlarged Spleen
Pain in the left upper abdomen can also be an indication of spleen issues. The spleen becomes enlarged due to specific conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or liver disease, or from an infection.
Enlarged spleen symptoms typically include:
- Feeling full when eating only small amounts of food
- Bleeding easily
- Recurrent or frequent infections
Doctors usually aim at treating the underlying causes of this type of enlargement. When there is an infection present, the person will usually need to take antibiotics.
On occasion, injuries to the body on the left-hand side can result in a ruptured spleen, that causes dizziness, pain, and discomfort in the left upper abdomen, and rapid heart rate.
When a spleen ruptures it requires immediate medical attention and it can result in excessive internal bleeding.
When to Seek Medical Attention:
The person should see a doctor immediately when they have black stools, experience weakness, along with abdominal pain.
Consult with a medical practitioner about discomfort or pain experienced in the left upper abdomen that occurs regularly and it is severe
Seek immediate medical attention when abdominal pain is accompanied by these symptoms:
- Tar-like, black stools
- The person experiencing shortness-of-breath and chest pain, fever or dizziness should call 911 and get medical attention immediately.
When trying to prevent an injury from happening, we highly recommend you use our Psoas Muscle Massage to help loosen your abdomens and other muscles to stay healthy and feeling good.
Tenderness or pain that occurs in the upper left side of the abdomen directly under the area of the ribs, could be a result of various conditions or broken ribs that can affect the organs nearby. People might also experience pain and discomfort in the area of the back or chest.
Another popular tool to use for pain in the area of the back caused by some of these conditions includes PSO-SPINE. This tool includes a unique and innovative 5-peak design, that provides the user with different options when it comes to applying pressure to the spinal muscles. The structure is very stable which provides an easy way to massage parts of the spine that are painful, sore, and tense.
When the left upper abdominal pain is severe or regular, it is important to see a physician to diagnose the cause. A medical practitioner will present the different treatment options dependent on any underlying conditions.