There is a myth, which says that pain under left rib cage might suggest a heart-related problem. Apparently, it’s just one possible reason out of many as left rib cage affects various internal organs. Therefore, pain in this area may actually be a symptom of different conditions. Some of them are quite serious so never ignore the pain under left rib cage.
Different Types of Pain Under Left Rib Cage
As pain under left rib cage may be caused by different reasons, you need to observe it and other symptoms in order to be well diagnosed by your doctor. You need to be able to answer the questions if your pain is strong or mild, chronic or episodic, sudden or constant.
Location is also extremely important as the area under left rib cage is quite large and often just millimeters can tell you a lot about the cause of your pain. Your body is one unit and your internal organs affect one another. Thus, almost all the organs which are located on your left side may be responsible for pain under left rib cage.
It’s important to decide if you feel pain in your abdominal part of the body or rather between the ribs or in the chest. The kind of pain is important too as sometimes what you’ve been actually feeling is more like a burning sensation or a moderate ache that lasts for many days and it can also spread to your neck or shoulder.
However, if the pain is severe and sudden or what’s more, it’s accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as short breath, fever, dizziness, vomiting, or coughing, consult your doctor immediately.
The Causes of Pain Under Left Rib Cage
You should never ignore pain under left rib cage, but you also shouldn’t exaggerate the problem as it may be caused by various reasons. Actually, you may even feel pain in this location after you’ve eaten too much.
In most cases the pain may be quickly diagnosed and cured. The organs which may be the cause of pain under left rib cage include left ureter, left kidney, pancreas, adrenal gland, stomach, left lung, and heart.
1. Rib Injuries
It’s probably one of the most obvious causes of pain under left rib cage. If your rib was broken or fractured, it must hurt. The problem is that we usually think that such an injury will cause severe pain. A broken rib, however, can also cause only mild pain, which we tend to ignore even for weeks.
What’s more, a rib injury may also have hurt your other internal organs, for example spleen or left kidney, which of course may be painful too. Thus, if you experienced any accident or trauma to your left rib cage and you feel pain even weeks after the incident, go to your doctor.
Similarly, if you know that your rib was broken or fractured, it’s extremely important to fully cure it. Therefore, don’t rush intense sports or stretching exercises. Take some painkillers which will bring you relief from pain and have a lot of rest.
2. Spleen Disease
Spleen is a very important organ located under the left rib cage. If it works properly, it protects your organism from infections and keeps your blood healthy. It’s also in charge of your lymphatic system.
Spleen can be the cause of pain under the left rib cage and in the left part of your abdomen when it’s enlarged. It can be the reason of quite severe pain. If additionally you have a difficulty with eating a large meal, your doctor will suspect the spleen disease.
3. Lung Diseases
If your left lung is affected with some disease, it may cause pain under your left rib cage. The pain may be quite sharp and it may appear either under right or left rib cage, depending which lung is influenced.
Lung-related conditions are often the complications after some respiratory infections. Thus, if you’ve suffered from one recently and now you’ve been feeling pain under one of your rib cages, you should consult it with your doctor immediately as lung diseases might be quite serious.
Pneumonia is probably one of the most common lung diseases and at the same time also one of the most serious ones. The pain may be quite strong and it usually gets stronger when you cough or when you take a deep breath. You may also feel stabbing pain under your ribs, which is often accompanied by an unexplained fever. In general you may feel bad and weak.
A less known lung-related disease is pleurisy. It may affect one or both lungs too and thus cause pain under left or right rib cage. The symptoms of the condition resemble pneumonia as the pain may be quite sharp and it gets worse when you sneeze, cough, or take a deep breath.
Layers of tissue that surround your lungs are very delicate. Pleurisy occurs when they are filled with fluid or some inflammation appears. This puts pressure on your lungs, which in consequence leads to pain.
Another disease that may affect your lungs is known as a collapsed lung. The exact cause of the condition is difficult to clarify. However, genetics is often to blame, any trauma to your rib cage or a chest surgery may lead to it as well. Some studies have also proved that smokers are in the risk group.
A collapsed lung will cause sudden and strong pain under one of your rib cages, depending on which of the lungs is affected. The pain will be even stronger when you take a deep breath. Accompanying symptoms include rapid or short breath, cough, and fatigue.
Pain under the left rib cage or in the upper left side of your abdomen may also be caused by improper working of your pancreas. It’s a very important organ responsible for producing enzymes which take part in the digestion process. As pancreas is located under your left rib cage, it will hurt when it’s affected with the disease.
The condition is known as pancreatitis and it occurs when your pancreas is inflamed. If you are affected with the disease, you will notice that the pain intensifies when you lie one your back or after you eat a fatty meal. The pain often spreads to your back or left shoulder blade.
Pancreatitis is mainly a condition of people who drink too much alcohol and who deal with gallstones. In most cases, the disease requires a medical treatment. Unfortunately, the fact you recover from it doesn’t mean you won’t get it in the future. Therefore, after the recovery it’s important to avoid alcohol, quit smoking, drink a lot of water, and have a healthy diet.
Your breastbone, also known as sternum may get inflamed too, the condition is known as costochondritis. It will cause strong pain under the left rib cage, which intensifies when you cough. It may also radiate to your abdomen or back.
Costochondritis may develop as a complication after some viral respiratory infection or a trauma to your breastbone, even if it was rather insignificant. It sometimes occurs after your upper chest surgery.
The condition usually goes away on its own as it’s usually enough to avoid exercising and get a lot of rest. You may also prepare remedial tea with turmeric and ginger. They have wonderful antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which may speed up the healing process.
Angina is actually quite a serious disease, which unfortunately we tend to ignore. When it’s not fully treated, it may even develop into a life-threatening, heart disease.
The pain which results from angina is sudden and it doesn’t go away even when you have a rest. The condition is often mistaken with heartburn or a heart attack as you can feel it either under your left rib cage or in your chest.
Angina is a common condition of people who deal with obesity, high blood pressure, or high level of cholesterol as it occurs when your arteries are blocked or narrowed. Thus, if you want to prevent the disease, keep your bad cholesterol and blood pressure on a low level. You can do it by healthy diet and regular exercises.
If you get angina, make sure that you fully recovered from it as it’s the best way to prevent dangerous complications.
Pericardium is a kind of a sac that naturally protects your heart. When it gets inflamed, we talk about the condition known as pericarditis. The main symptom of it is strong pain under your left rib cage or in your chest.
It’s also highly probable that you will experience other symptoms too, such as legs and abdomen swelling, low-grade fever, weakness, or heart palpitations.
Various reasons may lead to pericarditis. The most common ones include some viral infections or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. A trauma to your rib cage or heart may also be the culprit of the disease. Fortunately, the disease usually goes away on its own. You just need to take some over-the-counter painkillers and get a lot of rest.
8. Heart Attack
It’s undoubtedly the most serious cause of pain under the left rib cage, which can actually be life-threatening. A heart attack appears when your blood, which transports oxygen, can’t reach your heart. It happens, for example, when your coronary arteries are blocked.
Severe pain under your left rib or in your chest is just one of the symptoms of a heart attack. Some people say that it’s not so much pain they felt, but as if something squeezed their chest. Other symptoms include a strange feeling in different parts of your body, for example, in your arms, jaw, back, or neck. You can also suffer from nausea, cold sweats, vomiting, or short breath.
If you don’t want to get a heart attack, you should take care of a healthy lifestyle. Be physically active, spend a lot of time in the fresh air, don’t get stressed, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, and eat heathy food.
9. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones may be the cause of really severe pain. People who suffered from it say they would probably never forget it. You will feel pain under left rib cage if your left kidney is affected with the stones. Pain may often radiate to a lower part of the abdomen or to the groin.
Kidney stones are actually deposits of salt and minerals. They can build up for years in one of your kidneys causing extreme pain. Moreover, you may also feel pain while urinating and your urine may have a bad smell or a cloudy color. In case you have a difficulty with urinating or you can’t urinate at all, consult your doctor at once.
If your kidney stones are in an early stage, you can get rid of them in a natural way. You must drink a lot of water every day to dissolve the stones. You can also drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar.
Unfortunately, kidney stones likes to comes back. Thus, even if you managed to eliminate them, you need to keep drinking plenty of water on a daily basis and have a healthy diet.
10. Digestive Problems
Millions of people around the world suffer from various stomach-related conditions. It’s the consequence of an unhealthy diet which is full of fast food and processed food. Eating too much and too fast is also to blame, especially when it’s combined with chronic stress.
One of the most common digestive conditions is heartburn. It can cause pain or burning sensation in your chest or under your left rib cage. It may be so troublesome that it’s sometimes even mistaken with a heart attack. Nevertheless, it’s also one of the symptoms of a heart attack so it should never be ignored.
Heartburn happens when the digestive acid from your stomach moves back to the esophagus, irritating it. If heartburn is only incidental it can be cured with home remedies, but if happens to you frequently, you should consider introducing some changes into your daily diet or take medicines which will control the production of acid in your stomach.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritable bowel disease (IBD) are other very common diseases today. The conditions are very difficult to describe as they may be caused by various reasons, such as chronic stress or an unhealthy diet, and they can also be the reason for different symptoms.
People who suffer from IBS or IBD often experience bouts of pain under left rib cage, which is described as strong or dull. The reason for the pain is often excessive gas. As it’s not clear what exactly causes the conditions, it’s difficult to cure them. Thus, the treatment is usually limited to alleviating the pain and improving the symptoms.
Constipation, especially when it happens frequently, may also be responsible for pain under the left rib cage. Constipation occurs when hard stool builds up in your colon. You may feel the pain under either your left or right rib, in your chest, or abdomen. You may even have respiratory problem. Thus, never ignore the problem, especially when it starts to be chronic.
If you ate a heavy meal, you may also experience gas stuck in the colon, which gives similar symptoms to constipation. Therefore, you can feel pain or discomfort in your abdomen or under your left rib cage.
Possible Treatments of Pain Under Left Rib Cage
Various problems may lead to pain under your left rib cage, thus, the treatment usually depends on the cause. However, if the pain isn’t sudden or severe, you may try to follow some general tips and see if they work for you.
As most of the problems that cause pain under left rib cage are connected with a digestive system, the best treatment which you should try is changing your everyday diet and it doesn’t only mean what you eat, but also how you eat as, for example, overeating or eating too fast may cause various stomach-related problems.
Therefore, you should consume products which are easy to digest by your system, such as vegetables, fruit, and products that contain a lot of fiber. On the other hand, you should quit products which can clog your system, such as sweets, fizzy drinks, fatty food, and fats food. Also, alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden or at least should be avoided.
Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are also crucial if we want to stay heathy. Therefore, consume a lot of oily fish and spend about fifteen minutes a day in the sunlight, without wearing sunscreen.
In darker months you should supplement vitamin D as there are some studied which firmly have shown that deficiency of this particular vitamin may lead to various, chronic diseases. Another key rule is to drink plenty of water, which is at least eight glasses a day. Water will simply flush all the toxins from your organism and will boost your metabolism.
In case of digestive problems, don’t hesitate and take over-the-counter medicines, which may improve your digestive process or help you with excessive gas or constipation. These drugs are usually safe and effective. If they don’t work, it might be a sign for you that your problem might be more serious and requires a medical consultation.
The painkillers which you can buy on your own are mainly Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. Nevertheless, you may also try natural painkillers, which can be helpful and don’t cause any side effects.
Capsaicin, which can be found in cayenne pepper is probably the most effective one. You can simply mix it with water and use it both externally or internally. Be careful, though, as it’s extremely hot so never touch your eyes with it and make sure that it doesn’t cause any irritation to your skin if you want to use it in form of a cream or spray.
You may also try ginger as it has amazing antiviral and antibacterial qualities. It can boost your metabolism too. It’s a great idea to make ginger tea from slices of fresh ginger. Just boil it for a few minutes, add there some honey and lemon juice, and drink it between the meals. Such tea is also a great protection against seasonal infections.
Curcumin is a close friend of ginger. It can be found in turmeric, which you can add to your tea. It can bring you relief in case of pain, it has powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s a natural antioxidant too and there are some studies which have clearly shown that it may prevent cancer.
Use various herbs on a daily basis as they also have wonderful influence on our metabolism. White willow bark, cat’s claw, and arnica are considered to be the most beneficial.
Conditions which cause pain under left rib cage, but are not related to a digestive system, usually require medical treatment. Kidney stones may sometimes only be cured by surgery, especially if you’ve been suffering from them so long that they got so large that it’s impossible to simply dissolve them.
Heart or lung-related conditions should also never be ignored and always be treated by a doctor.
When to Seek Medical Help
If your pain isn’t strong or chronic, you may try to manage it on your own with home methods and over-the-counter products. If after a few days you don’t see any difference, make an appointment to your doctor.
There are cases, though, when you should consult your doctor at once. Do it if the pain is sharp, sudden, or unusual. When it’s a type of a squeezing or crushing feeling, and when pain radiates to other parts of your body, for example, to your jaw or back.
Similarly, pay attention to the accompanying symptoms. The ones which are alarming include rapid or short breathing, a very high or very low blood pressure, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, chills or fever.
These symptoms may suggest some serious conditions, which require immediate medical care. Don’t panic, though, as it can only make the problem worse.