Pain Under Left Rib: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More
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Your heart and stomach, both of which are located below your left ribcage, are shielded from injury by those ribs. Pain in this region can be brought on by a variety of factors, including an accident, an infection, or an underlying ailment.
If you are experiencing discomfort in your chest, you may be concerned that a major problem, such as a heart attack, may be developing. Pain under the left side of your ribcage is one of the symptoms that may indicate you are having a heart attack; however, discomfort in this region is not necessarily associated with the heart.
Pain in the left rib can be described as either intense and stabbing or dull and aching, depending on the underlying reason. Pain in this region is often caused by a benign (not harmful), curable condition that affects many people. However, if you are experiencing chest pain, you should seek an appointment with a medical practitioner as soon as possible to rule out any potentially life-threatening conditions.
Continue reading to learn about the probable causes of left rib discomfort, as well as the diagnostic and treatment options for this condition.
When should I call 911 if I have pain in my left rib?
Pain in the chest is one of the symptoms that can occasionally point to a more serious medical issue, such as a heart attack. It is in your best interest to get medical attention if you are experiencing pain in the left side of your rib cage.
Symptoms of a heart attack include the following:
You may experience chest pain, discomfort, or a heavy feeling, most frequently in the center of your chest or on the left side.
a painful or uncomfortable feeling in your neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, back, or anywhere above your belly button
a rapid heartbeat heavy sweating and exhaustion
feeling queasy and throwing up
symptoms including lightheadedness, dizziness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat
In the event that you believe you may be experiencing a heart attack, you should immediately contact either 911 or the emergency services in your area.
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What causes pain in the left rib?
There are 12 ribs on the left side of your body and 12 ribs on the right side, making a total of 24 ribs in your rib cage. The organs that lie beneath them are shielded from harm by their presence and activity.
This refers to the organs located on the left side of your body, specifically your heart, left lung, pancreas, spleen, and stomach, as well as your left kidney. Pain may extend from under and around your left rib cage if any of these organs are infected, swollen, or injured. It’s also possible for your ribs to sustain an injury on their own.
Inflammation of the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone is referred to as costochondritis. There is not always a clear explanation for what causes this illness. It may occur for a variety of reasons, including the following:
an illness or damage an infection
persistent hacking cough
Pain associated with costochondritis is described as being “sharp, stabbing, and commonly located on the left side of the rib cage.” It’s possible that sneezing, coughing, or pressing on your ribs will make it worse.
Broken or bruised ribs
The majority of people who suffer from bruised or broken ribs did so as a result of a hard blow or injury to the chest.
If you have a bruised rib, the pain will typically be felt in the chest, and it will be exacerbated when you breathe in or move around.
When ribs are broken, the patient is likely to experience a great deal of agony. It’s possible that it will make you feel as though it’s difficult to take a full breath in. Rib fractures can occasionally result in major problems, such as the following:
a flail chest, which is a medical emergency that occurs when you have numerous fractures in your ribs, can lead to a collapsed lung, injury to your blood vessels or organs, such as your spleen, and other complications.
IBD and IBS both
Irritable bowel syndrome (often referred to as IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (sometimes referred to as IBD) are two distinct digestive diseases. There is still a lot of mystery around the origins of IBS and IBD.
Both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is associated with chronic pain in the abdomen, which extends from the chest to the hips. Pain directly under your left ribcage may be the result of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These disorders also induce digestive symptoms, such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas. These symptoms can be quite uncomfortable.
The symptoms could come and go at any time. The symptoms of IBS typically improve once a bowel movement has been completed. Irritable bowel disease (IBD) is a more severe disorder that results in structural abnormalities in your intestines. Imaging tests allow a physician to observe these shifts in patients.
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On the left side of your abdomen, close to where your small intestine is located, is a gland known as your pancreas. It does this by producing insulin, which your body then uses to convert sugar into usable energy. In addition to this, it causes the flow of digestive juices into your small intestine, which assists in the process of breaking down the food that you have consumed.
The inflammation of a person’s pancreas is referred to as pancreatitis. It may have a number of reasons, including the following:
damage caused by long-term, high consumption of alcohol gallstones
The pain brought on by pancreatitis can come on quickly (a condition known as acute pancreatitis), or it might gradually become more severe over time (chronic pancreatitis). The following are some other signs of pancreatitis:
high temperature and rapid heart rate
sickness vomiting weight loss jaundice
Pancreatitis should be treated immediately in order to avoid more serious problems.
Spleen enlargement or rupture, as well as infarct in the spleen
In addition, your spleen is located on the left side of your body, close to where your rib cage is located. This organ plays a significant role in the functioning of your immune system. In addition to processing other components of your blood, it is responsible for producing the white blood cells that fight illness.
Symptoms of splenomegaly, which is another name for an enlarged spleen, include the following:
ache or a sense of discomfort
bloating and a sense of fullness after having consumed only a modest amount of food
An enlarged spleen can be caused by a number of factors, including the following:
Infections caused by viruses, such as mononucleosis; infections caused by bacteria, such as syphilis; infections caused by parasites, such as malaria; and blood illnesses
disorders of the liver
The spleen can burst occasionally, and the cause of the rupture is typically an injury. It is imperative that you get immediate medical assistance as this is a serious medical emergency.
If your spleen bursts, the area around it may feel sensitive to the touch if you examine it. Other signs and symptoms, in addition to the discomfort, may include the following:
low blood pressure dizziness
headaches nausea dizziness
Splenic infarcts occur far less frequently and are caused when a piece of your spleen necrotizes, also known as “dies.” This occurs when the body’s ability to produce blood is reduced or interrupted altogether, which is typically the result of an injury or disorders that influence the blood.
Inflammation of the lining of the stomach is referred to as gastritis. Your stomach is located on the left side of your rib cage.
It does not always cause symptoms, although the following are some of the possible signs:
a dull ache in the upper part of your stomach the sensation that you have eaten too much even when you have just had a tiny quantity
The following are some of the causes of gastritis:
Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori
Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) on a regular basis (NSAIDs)
prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol
Stones in the kidneys or an infection
The kidneys are a component of the urinary tract in your body. Even though they are situated on either side of your spine, if they become inflamed or infected, the discomfort can travel all the way to the front of your body. When your left kidney is affected, you may experience pain on the left side of your rib cage. This is because your left kidney is located there.
Calcium and salt deposits can harden over time, forming into stones that are known as kidney stones. As they pass through your kidneys and on their journey to your bladder, they can give you cramps because of the constriction they produce. Kidney stones can produce a variety of symptoms, including pain in the left side of the rib cage, as well as:
a need to urinate that is accompanied by a small amount of urine production bloody or cloudy urine pain that originates in the side and travels to the front of the body
When germs from your urinary tract make their way into your kidneys, you are at risk of developing a kidney infection. In most cases, this is caused by an infection in the bladder. A fever and a feeling of nausea are two more symptoms that may accompany a kidney infection.
It is imperative that you seek medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms that may indicate kidney disease. You will be able to obtain a diagnosis and commence any therapy that may be required.
The pericardium is a bag that is filled with fluid that surrounds your heart. It is called the pericardial sac. This inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart is known as pericarditis. This might give rise to a throbbing or aching discomfort, the intensity of which is typically increased when the affected individual is prone. In addition, pericarditis might bring on a very high fever.
Researchers are unsure of why it takes place, however it frequently takes place after a viral infection has been present in the body.
In the event that it is not treated, pericarditis might result in a number of consequences.
When the tissue that surrounds your lungs becomes inflamed, a condition known as pleurisy can develop. Some of the following can lead to pleurisy:
a lung infection or blood clot, a lung injury, or cancer that has moved from another region of your body to the tissue that surrounds your lungs are all examples of potentially life-threatening conditions.
Cancers that damage the tissue directly around your lungs, such as mesothelioma
Pain under the left side of your rib cage is a possible sign of left-sided pleurisy; however, the primary symptom is a sharp, stabbing pain that occurs when you breathe in. If you are experiencing severe chest pain when breathing, you should make an appointment with a physician as soon as possible.
How is the discomfort in the left rib diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a physical assessment on you, which will include feeling the affected area, in order to determine the source of the discomfort you are experiencing in the left side of your rib cage. They can use this to check for any symptoms of inflammation or swelling that might be caused by illnesses such as costochondritis.
An ECG is a test that measures the amount of electrical activity in the heart. A physician will perform this test if they have reason to believe that the discomfort is related to a heart-related condition. This will help to determine whether or not there is a serious issue underlying the symptoms.
After that, they will likely get samples for analysis from your blood, stool, or urine. When these data are analyzed, it’s possible for a doctor to spot warning symptoms of renal disease, pancreatitis, or gastritis.
In the event that the reason for the pain in your rib cage is still unclear, you may require an imaging test such as:
ultrasound CT scan X-ray endoscopy
A physician will have a clearer picture of your bones, organs, and tissues as a result of this.
If I have discomfort in my left rib, what kind of doctor should I see?
There is a wide variety of potential reasons why you are experiencing pain around your left rib cage. In most cases, a primary care physician will be able to assist you in determining the root of the problem. In the event that you require the services of a specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor who handles bones, muscles, and joints, they are able to make the referral for you.
In the event that you believe you may be experiencing a heart attack or any type of medical emergency, call 911 or the emergency services in your area as soon as possible.
What can I do about the ache that is located in my left ribs?
What’s causing the pain in your left rib cage will determine how you treat it. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been shown to be effective in reducing both pain and edoema when inflammation is the underlying cause of an issue. Clearing up a bacterial infection may need the use of an antibiotic in certain circumstances.
Ribs that have been broken or bruised will most likely recover with rest, provided there are no further issues.
In extremely unusual circumstances, you might need surgery. For instance, if a kidney stone is too huge to pass through your body on its own, a medical professional may need to remove it surgically in order to prevent further complications.
It is not unusual to experience pain under the left rib cage due to the large number of organs that are located in the upper left portion of your body. There is a possibility that it is caused by a condition that can be treated easily.
If, on the other hand, you experience pain in this region that is severe, gets worse over time, lasts for more than 24 hours, or is associated with any of the serious symptoms listed above, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of any underlying conditions.