Pain Under Left Rib Cage

What Can Cause Pain Under the Left Ribs?

Pain under the left rib cage can arise from any organ in the left upper abdomen or chest, spine, or the left ribs themselves. In otherwise healthy people, spleen irritation and gas built in the colon are main causes of pain under the lower left ribs. Pain can be also psychological, for example from neurotic heart, but physical causes have to be excluded first.

Spleen Irritation

During or after running, walking or other physical activities, irritation of the spleen capsule can cause side pain under the lower left ribs. Pain usually goes away after some rest.

Gas in the Colon – Splenic Flexure Syndrome

Gas trapped in the bend of the colon lying near the spleen (splenic flexure) can cause pain in the left upper abdomen or in the left lower chest. Other symptoms and signs of the so called splenic flexure syndrome include:

  • Distension of the upper abdomen, which can be tender to touch or not.
  • Drum-like sound when tapping upper abdomen with the hand
  • Pain in the upper left abdomen when bending or twisting the upper body. Pain is also often triggered by sitting down and relieved by standing up.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramps or excessive gas may be present in persons diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) .

Some people try to get rid of trapped gas by leaning over the back of a chair, or fence. It is important you find a cause of trapped gas, which may be:


Sharp or dull, gnawing pain near the breastbone, affected by deep breathing, cough or moving the upper body may be due to costochondritis (costosternal syndrome). Costochondritis is an inflammation of cartilages that connect the ribs with the breastbone. The exact cause is not always clear, but trauma, fibromyalgia or infection can be included.

Costochondritis may be confused with heart attack. Pain from costochondritis is localized in small area on one or both sidesof the breastbone, and is tender to touch, while pain from heart attack or angina pectoris comes from under the breastbone and is not tender to touch.

Doctor can suspect costochondritis from symptoms and signs found during physical examination; costochondritis is not shown on X-ray of the chest.

Costochondritis usually heals on its own in a week or two. Rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin or ibuprofen can help.

Pinched Nerve in the Thoracic Spine

Bulging or herniated disc, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or spondylitis can result in pinched nerve(s) in the neck or chest part of the spine (from C7 to Th8), which innervate the muscles and skin of the chest wall. Pain, burning, numbness or tingling, usually only on one side of the chest, can be affected by different body positions. Diagnosis is made by CT of the chest spine.

Broken Rib

Broken or fractured rib(s) on the left side causes pain during deep breathing and moving of the upper body. The main cause is trauma. Diagnosis is made by chest X-ray, but still some fractures can be missed since a broken rib may be only a crack in the rib, which does not necessary fall apart in two pieces. Elastic wraps to “immobilize” the chest are not used anymore. Simple cracks heal in a month or two, complicated fractures require surgery. Painkillers are recommended to enable deep breathing without pain.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Shingles is an inflammation of one of the spinal nerves due to reactivation of infection with Herpes zoster (varicella) virus. Burning pain extending as a stripe from the back toward the breastbone, and itchy rash that often appears some days after pain has started, are main symptoms. Shingles heal on its own in few weeks. Painkillers may be needed.

Pleuritis, Pneumonia, Pneumothorax, Lung Cancer…

Inflammation of the lung membrane (pleuritis) on the left side can cause stabbing pain around the lower ribs. Pain is usually affected by deep breath and cough. Pneumonia(bacterial, viral or caused by mycoplasma or other microbes) affecting the left lung can cause cough, left side chest pain and fever.

Pneumothorax is a collapse of the lung (usually on one side only) due to a break in the lung membrane. Pneumothorax may be caused by trauma or can be spontaneous – the later usually affects young skinny males. Vague, not necessary sharp pains around the chest and back, affected by breathing and body movements, are typical. Diagnosis is made by X-ray; treatment is with surgery.

Other lung causes of pain under the left ribs:

  • Tuberculosis or other lung infection
  • Lung cancer
  • Pleural effusion
  • Lung infarct
  • Mesothelioma

Heart Attack and Angina Pectoris

Heart attack causes a sudden pain of various intensity behind the breastbone or slightly to the left. Angina pectoris, is a chronic pain, caused by various heart disorders, and usually triggered by physical effort or stress. Check other heart disorders.

Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer may cause pain in the middle or left upper abdomen. Diagnosis is with CT and blood tests.

Spleen Disorders and Enlarged Spleen

Liver disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), spleen rupture, spleen infarct, infectious mononucleosis, malaria or other infections, lymphoma, leukemia, sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders, or certain (rare) genetic metabolic disorders can cause pain in the spleen.

Other Disorders Causing Pain Under the Left Rib Cage

Other possible causes of pain under the left rib cage include:

  • Stretched or torn muscle or muscle spasm in the chest or abdominal wall
  • Chest or abdominal trauma
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Kidney diseases, including urinary stones in the kidney or left ureter
  • Pericarditis – an inflammation of the heart sac
  • Aneurysm or dissection of abdominal aorta
  • Henoch Schönlein purpura, inflammation of arteries affecting various organs

Related Articles:

About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

  • jsaunders

    Thankyou for your reply.
    I do get tenderness occasionally.I never feel bloated. No food of whatever kind iritates. Bowel movements have no effect,when I get them.
    You mention gas or something to that nature in the colon? I do feel that is closer to a diagnosis than acid, which other GP,s mention. What would be the best course of action to take now and do I ask for any particular tests?
    If it is what you suggest how is it I feel an improvement on the Lansoprazole?

    • Jan Modric


      lansoprazole helping you speaks for excessive acid secretion in your stomach. This can cause gastritis or peptic ulcer. One of (common) possible causes is an infection with bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Blood and breath test exist, I recommend you to have this.

      You should avoid acidic foods, like fruits, also vitamin C, aspirin or other non-steroid antirheumatic drugs, like ibuprofen…

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  • debra

    have occasional discomfort under bottom of rib cage on left side. yesterday had very sudden and sharp pain lasting only few seconds. not activity related. bowels okay no other medical issues or injury

    • Jan Modric


      what you can do by yourself is to have a low-FODMAP diet trial for a weak or so. Certain foods in certain people can irritate the part of the colon that runs below the rib cage. If this doesn’t help you may visit a doctor.

  • 13592183

    hi,my mother is 58 years old,she is fatty and has pain under left rib after walking

    • Jan Modric


      if her pain is on her side, it may be from the spleen. If this is something new, I recommend her to visit a gastroenterologist. A common cause of pain under left rib cage is also gas built in the large intestine due to certain foods, like oatmeal, that produce a lot of gas.

  • Nics

    Could any associated pain under the lower left ribcage be due to excess alcohol consumption?

    • Jan Modric


      yes, pancreatitis is one such disorder.

  • vlad

    my pain in the lower rib cage started after sneezing in the morning, and now it hurts to the toch and when I cough.

    • Jan Modric


      if the pain will lessen in the next few days, it was probably a stretched or pinched muscle. If pain does not go away, you may visit your doctor.

  • mirandakarey

    I have a pain on the left side right under my rib cage. have had endoscopy and ultra sound but dr said alls well. said it was acute gastritis and that I needed to lose 20 lbs and take nexium for 2 months to keep it at bay. the nexium does help but not always. I have days w/ lots of gas and that sharp pain, sometimes its so bad I can barely get out of bed. My dr did not schedule any kind of follow up. Should I seek a second opinion and ask them to ck something specific?

    • Jan Modric


      in case you also burp excessively, one likely cause of excessive gas and pain in the stomach is infection with Helicobacter pylori (Diagnosis is with a breath test, treatment with antibiotics). Pain below the left ribs can be due to gas built in the colon; common causes are fructose malabsorption (likely, if symptoms would lessen considerably after few days of a low-fructose diet, and intestinal parasites, for example. Other causes include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and so on.

  • chrishouse

    i have sharp stabbing pain under left lower rib cage. ive had bloodwork,ct scan xrays ultrasounds and nothing. every time the pain starts about every three days i feel almost a flutter like a movement under my ribs then i have to urinate badly. it is always huge blood clots its not menstrual as i no longer have them. i am at the doctors almost every week because of this and im not getting answers or any better. please help me with a starting point.

    • Jan Modric


      blood clots in the urine and upper left abdominal pain strongly speak for a disorder in the left urinary tract (kidney/ureter). Appropriate urine tests should be done in this case, if not already.

  • Jayda

    I have had pressure and some mild pain in my upper left abdomen for several months. Mostly it is just very uncomfortable but it is noticeably worse during certain weeks. The pressure lessens slightly when standing or lying down. Also, it is occasionally tender to the touch about an inch below my left breast where my front meets my side. What could cause something like this?

  • tucker

    I have had pain in my lower left side for a week. I can put my fingertip on my lower front rib to pinpoint it.It comes and goes but sometimes it is sharp lasting only a couple of seconds. Now it seems to make my left arm hurts some. What could it be ??

    • Jan Modric


      do you feel pain in the whole arm (and hand?) or only in shoulder, for example? Is the pain aggravated by body movements?

  • tucker

    pain comes and goes in the shoulder and arm. Body movement has no effect. May go several hours with no pain. Most pain is just under rib cage. Sometimes shooting up to left arm.

    • Jan Modric


      I recommend you to visit a doctor, who can judge is it a pinched nerve in the spine, a heart disorder or something else.

  • mel


    Hey my mom is 50 y/o
    She just recently started having left lower rib pain. she has not fractured her ribs because she hasn’t done any activites. It hurts when she moves her upper body and sometimes when she takes in deep breaths. It feels tender to touch.

    • Jan Modric


      is it her rib cage or abdomen which is tender to touch? Does she feels or appears bloated, does she has excessive gas or change in bowel habit?

  • fryewinda1

    Hello! Just reading the other people health comments made me realize I am not alone! I have been having all kinds of problems soon as I turned 40 years of age and I am 44 now. Well I have been to the doctor for approximately 10 years for a sharp pain or a heart attack like pain on my left side; specialist and monitoring and what nots: lately there has been a pain under my left side that like a inside hurt pain like something is there that shouldnt be there; and it is so irritable: I cant sleep or afraid to sleep I cant move to fast or hold my arm up long (left side) I drop everything and I cant pick up anything that has weight (long as it is lightweight) it hurts that bad

    • Jan Modric


      – Where exactly is the pain?
      – Is the affected area distended, tender to touch, painful during deep breathing?
      – How did the pain appear the first time – suddenly or slowly?
      – Are you constipated or have other bowel-related issues?
      – What is your diet in general, and have you changed the diet when you were 40, or something other stressful has occurred at the time?

  • doctors_doctors

    For several months I have had a bulge type swelling in my upper left quadrant with some burning sensation periodically and down on my left side a bit. My RBC was slightly elevated however they also said I am anemic. CT scan clear, ultrasound showed clear. I dont know what to do, but I am starting to get really scared…

    • Jan Modric


      are you male or female and how old are you? If the bulge is an obviously delimited mass, it could be enlarged spleen. If it is a diffuse abdominal distension, it could be from gas built in the colon. In anemia in a combination with gastrointestinal problem, a bowel bleeding is suspected (confirmed by a stool test for blood). Anemia is also common in vegetarians and in certain small intestinal disorders (celiac, Crohn’s disease). Colorectal cancer is rare before 40 years of age.

  • doctors_doctors

    Thank you for responding, I am female and 35 years old. I am not a vegetarian, ct scan showed no masses,also my spleen was normal. I feel like there is pressure by my left ribs plus the bulge I have had for months. Sometimes the pressure radiates to my back.I am having a colonoscopy on Tuesday, I have been in and out of doctors for several months and I just feel like everyone is guessing. I am getting extremely overwhelmed and very scared- Thank you so much for getting back to me, I really appreciate it!

    • Jan Modric


      if neither ultrasound nor CT have revealed any abnormality, you can assume that the bulge is caused by gas built in the transverse (below the ribs) and descendant part (on the left side) of your colon. There are several possible causes for gas accumulation in the bowel:
      – a food intolerance, like fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance, celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome . Few days lasting elimination diet trials can help if you have any of these disorders.
      – intestinal parasites (confirmed by a stool test)
      – Crohn’s disease.

  • doctors_doctors

    colonoscopy- clear yesterday

  • lmds

    Hi there! My fiancee is 37 years old and has been going through testing for 4 years now to find a cause for the extreme chronic pain in his left side. The pain starts at the bottom of his left ribs and can extend all the way to the groin region depending on the day. He has alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea but constant defecation problems and spends most of every day in the bathroom. Even so, he never feels like he has emptied his bowels. He has experimented with different diets, but hasn’t found anything that really solves the issue. He has had every imaginable gastro test and scan, which all come back normal. One thing that is strange is that his lower left rib sometimes sticks out dramatically and is obviously deformed. He had broken his rib a while back. Is it possible that his rib could be so out of place that it is causing his pain and gastrointestinal problems or am I grasping at straws here? We are just so desperate for a resolution and to get his life back!! Any insight would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you!

    • Jan Modric


      a doctor could evaluate how deformed his rib is, and maybe some imaging investigation (X-ray, CT) would be needed to see, if the rib is pressing upon the bowel and obstructing it. One explanation could be that gas built in the colon would push the rib out and cause pain both below the ribs and pain that extends toward the groin. Food intolerances that could cause gas built in the colon include celiac disease, fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. Diet trials for all these intolerances exist.

  • lmds

    thank you so much for such a quick response! could you tell me what Dr. is best to speak to about the rib? Would a neurologist help with that? Also…are you familiar with Splenic Flexure Syndrome? that is something we just came across in our investigating and I am curious if that is the same as IBS or a disorder on its own…

    • Jan Modric


      to speak about the rib, the doctor who has treated his broken ribs would be appropriate. Or it could be an experienced orthopedist or traumatologist. But before that, his primary doctor can examine him and evaluate if the problem is in the rib, or in gas built in the colon. I don’t think a neurologist is the first option here. Splenic flexure syndrome is not yet fully understood, but is often considered as a form or part of IBS. You can read about splenic flexure syndrome in the article above. A low-FODMAP diet may hep in IBS.

  • rita

    my rib cage is extending out more on my left side for the past couple months,don’t look right!!what do you think it might be?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Rita

      You need to see a doctor who can verify that this is not just your perception but an actual abnormality of the rib cage. Your lack of other symptoms makes it difficult to isolate a possible cause, but it is important to remember that conditions affecting the upper abdominal organs on the left side could also be responsible. In addition, disorders with the chest wall as well as conditions affecting the right side of the thoracic cavity could be responsible. You need to see a doctor who will consider further investigations to diagnose a possible cause.

  • jan

    I have been waking up with a stabbing pain under my left ribcage and numbness in one or both arms in the middle of the night. I received a blood transfusion about a week ago because of low iron and have been put on hormone pills to control bleeding.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Jan

      Your recent procedure could be responsible for your symptoms but you should see a doctor as soon as possible because these symptoms may be related to a cardiovascular condition (heart and blood vessels). A peptic ulcer and acid reflux may also be responsible for these symptoms. Speak to your doctor who can advise you further.

  • Danielle

    Hi, was wondering if you can help me, I am 32 year old female and have pain just under left rib cage, this pain usually comes whilst having deeper breath and is a little tender to touch and getting up from lying down hurts too… Does this sound just like a pinched nerve? Many thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Danielle

      It could be a pinched nerve but there are various other possibilities that should first be considered. First, this could be related to the chest wall – muscles, ribs or costal cartilages, and even the skin. Then other symptoms may point to a respiratory condition (like pleuritis), gastrointestinal (gastritis, hital hernia, pancreatitis and so on), or even the kidneys or spleen. All of thee may be a possibility and therefore you should see your doctor who can consider further investigation. Considering that the pain is present with movement and the area is tender to touch does make chest wall pain a more likely cause. Without further assessment and other symptoms, it is difficult to comment much further.

  • hurting mom

    Hi doctors_doctors,

    I have been dealing with upper abdominal pain for the past 3 months, there is always a dull pain just below my breast bone, which intensifies after eating but would go back to the dull pain after a couple hours. Over the past week however the pain has become more powerful, and is going through to my back. The only discription that I could give is that it feels like I have a rope tied around me that someone is pulling as hard as they can on. I have had blood work done which came back normal, and an ultrasound which also came back normal. I am getting frustraded with the pain and was wondering if you had any suggestions as to what else could be going on?

    • Hi. It would be advisable that you see a gastroenterologist. While much of what you describe sounds like gallstones or related gallbladder problems, gastritis or peptic ulcer disease, the only way of knowing for sure is after investigations. An ultrasound is a very useful diagnostic test but often the findings (or lack thereof) are dependent on the skill of the technician. Additional investigations like an upper GI endoscopy and so on is better suited to identify what is going on.

  • Kevin.K

    Hi doctors,
    For about a week now, I’ve been having this numbness feeling wright at my last rib on my left side. Also, I would get this short Sharpe sting in my kidney area. Both of these area doesn’t hurt, I would press on them with no pain. On my rib area there is a very small section where the skin feels numb and irritated. My stomach would be bubbling a lot if I have lots of gas. No pain but just feels weird. What might it be???
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Kevin,

      It is difficult to say without a physical examination and your complete medical history. Numbness in such an isolated spot is uncommon and is quite confusing since you also mention that it is irritated. The nerves responsible for sensation on the chest/abdominal wall are distributed in bands known as dermatomes. Normally a nerve problem would extend across the entire dermatome, as in shingles, and not be as isolated.

      The “sting” in your kidney area, gas and bubbling of the stomach could very well be problems with your stomach and esophagus, ranging from gastritis to peptic ulcers and acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease) although you are not experiencing any heartburn etc that is typical of reflux. Highly recommended that you speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Kaleb

    I have uncomfortable pressure under my left rib area. No severe pain just feels like a fist under my left rib cage. I have gained about 15 pounds over the last 6 months and had more gas and heart burn than normal . I have had a CT scan and ultra sound and xrays.showing no abnormalties. The xray showed large gas bubbles and what looked like a point on one of the gas bubbles which the Dr. said he had never seen before. It has been constant for over 6 months now with no relief. seems to be worse when I first wake up and before I go to bed or after any physical activity. small shooting pain after physical activity. Also get tired easier than I used to and have very minor dizzy spells. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kaleb. What you describe could be conditions like a hiatal hernia where a portion of the stomach slips through the opening in the diaphragm (the large sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) even without a hiatal hernia could also cause some of the symptoms. You don’t clearly indicate where these “gas bubbles” are located so it is difficult to comment on that part.

      The concern here however is that some of these symptoms are consistent with cardiac and respiratory diseases. There are a host of possibilities here and it would need to be managed by a medical specialist. If your doctor is uncertain about the abnormalities on x-ray, it would be advisable to see a medical specialist who can further assess your condition.

      • Kaleb

        Thank You for the quick response! The air bubbles were inside my stomach the point on one of the bubbles was in the upper portion of the stomach. Also, all blood samples came back within normal range in all catagories.

        • Hi Kaleb. Nevertheless ask your doctor for a referral to a gastroenterologist and let him/her assess your condition further. It may be nothing serious but it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Natalie

    Hi doctors, I am a 34 year old female and for the past couple of weeks I have had pain/cramping/ pressure under top left rib cage. It spreads through the left breast area to my shoulder blade. It throbs in the shoulder blade area. My left arm is achy. These symptoms getting worse. I also have started feeling nauseas. I do not have insurance and I am starting to get very worried.

    • Hi Natalia. Firstly, this could be due to acid reflux (GERD) even if you do not have the typical heartburn but you should not immediately exclude more serious conditions. If antacids help then in all likelihood it is reflux which is not serious as other conditions.

      Ideally you should still be examined by a doctor and further tests should be conducted. However, it is costly without insurance but you should still explore other options that could be more affordable. The greater concern is whether this is due to a cardiac problem.

      Heart conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD) can occur in your age group, so do not feel that being under 40 means that you are safe. Yes, your risk may be significantly lower than a person over 45, who is a cigarette smoker and obese but nevertheless you are still at risk.

      Certain hormonal conditions that can cause breast tenderness (with referred pain) and even nausea may account for some oft hese symptoms but it is unlikely to be so one-sided. Similarly conditions like gallbladder disease and gallstones may cause shoulder pain and nausea but the ache doesn’t usually refer down the left arm.

      Nausea, left arm pain, chest pain are all worrying signs. You need to see a medical doctor and hopefully it is nothing serious. We cannot answer this question for sure.

      • Natalie

        Thanks for the response. I’m pretty sure it’s not GERD. I did try taking antacids and Prevacid to see if it helped and it did not. I did have an EKG back in May, but I know that only shows minimally what’s going on with your heart. I have a doctor I can pay to see, but like you said, it’s the expense of all the tests needed that I can’t afford. I’m 5’1, 110 and eat healthy but I’ve always been paranoid about my heart because I’ve had panic attacks quite often. This is completely different. Thanks again.

        • Hi Natalie. A stress EKG (if you did not have one) may be a better option and if coronary artery disease is being suspected then a coronary angiogram is one of the most definitive investigations. Unfortunately there is the cost factor here. Anxiety and panic attacks may also cause these symptoms but it is still better to exclude serious physical conditions before attributing your symptoms to anxiety. Although your BMI is within the normal range and you eat healthy, you could still have conditions like coronary artery disease despite the lower risk.

  • Rick

    Hi, I am a male, just turned 50. I started having a sharp stabbing pain on my left side about six inches below my armpit. The pain transitioned to alternating burning and spiking pain. Two days after it started I noticed a slight redness in the area and visible blood vessels. The pain has decreased and area is sensitive to the touch. I have been having GI problems and am scheduled for a colon check. Could this pain be related?

    • Hi Rick. It could possibly be related to the GI problems that you have. But remember that there are other organs in this area like the spleen and kidney. Of course cardiac conditions are a major concern if your age group as well. Given your age and the formation of these red patches and visible blood vessels, it is best that you see your doctor ASAP. Do not wait till your colon check up. It could be serious and requires immediate medical attention.

  • Manda Baker

    hello there im 24 years old and the last two weeks I been having a pulling piercing pain in my left back side almost feel in or between the ribs hurts to carry anything heavy or get up and sit down its a constant pain it just seems to be getting worse and harder to move, im not coughing or have rash ive tried stretching or hot cold packs to relieve the pain is still there it subcides a bit when I lay down in the right position but its getting harder to do my daily tasks, I was thinking a knot possibly but tried having it rubbed out doesn’t do anything or possibly a pinched nerve the pain is about an an inch and ahalf to two inches away from my spine on my left middle back side by or in the ribs some certain movements makes it feel more intence but its constantly there hurts to walk and do daily things it almost feels like I have a knife stabbed in my back I was just wondering if had any suggestions on how to relieve the pain or what to do

    • Hi Manda. Your symptoms need to be investigated further by a doctor. There are a number of conditions that can cause these symptoms and in these cases there is not much that you can do at home to relieve the pain. There are many possibilities for these symptoms – kidney, spleen, stomach, colon, lung, pancreas and gallbladder problems to name just some. Do not be fooled by the lack of other symptoms as you mentioned coughing or a skin rash. Some very serious conditions can have little symptoms other than pain and persist for long periods of time. You should see your doctor ASAP.

  • Catrina67

    Hello, I am a 46 y/o female with NO physical problems until 4 days ago. I started the day with a terrible sharp, constant horrible pain with a sudden onset…. The pain has moved up closer to my armpit and lowered to my hip. I am a smoker and in general a very healthy person… I noticed last night and all day today that when I take a a breath especially deep inhale, I have pain.. I need some advice, please… Not wanting to go to Hospital. Is it possible I could have torn, bruised or twisted a muscle in my side and if so, what kind of TX. can I use at home. Thank you

    • Hi Catrina. A muscle problem is a possibility. But so is a lung, heart, stomach, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and kidney problem, not to mention other organs that may be affected. Pain alone does not give a clear indication of where the problem lies and you may be missing other symptoms.

      If there are no other symptoms, then your doctor has to do further investigations to identify the possible cause and reach a diagnosis. Given your age, gender and smoking status (irrespective of how healthy you have been or lifestyle that you live), you are at risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Hopefully it is not anything serious. You should see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • lee

    I am having an issue with my stomach. I do have a hiatal hernia of which i also just had a barium swallow study and they said is ok. My problem that i have had for months is severe bloating with anything and all day! I look 6 months pregnant….. I also have a pressure under my left rib cage. It literally feels like something is pushing on my ribs. I t was hurting early on into my back but the pain has stopped .I just feel like a huge ball. Under my breast seems swollen and my bra is tight. when I eat i feels like i ate a lead baloon. but not in lower stomach in upper just under ribs! help!

    • Hi Lee. Firstly, most of the stomach is under the left ribcage. So the pressure you are feeling here may in fact be due to the hiatal hernia. However, it does not explain the enlargement of your abdomen and swelling by the breasts. You need to see your doctor again. Even if the hiatal hernia does not appear to be severe on an imaging study, if your symptoms are severe then surgery may still be warranted. Also do not let the hiatal hernia distract you from other conditions which may have arisen in the same region.

  • lee

    Hello my name is lee. i am a 48 year old female. I have been having some problems the past few months. I thought it was my hiaital hernia an had a barium swallow test. all came bk ok. So the other issue im having are severe bloating,pressure under my left rib cage it literally feels like something is pushing up on it! There was pain at first that went to my back but it has stopped. the bloating no longer leaves i look pregnant! I also am swollen under my breast my bra has gotten tight. Not sure what to do.

  • Shaun Herchenrader

    hi im having a dull not too bad pain under my left rib cage any clue as to what it could be? only been like this for a couple days no worse or anything should I give it a little bit of time before spending so much money?? I also have a pain on my ankles above my heels is this a sign of anything serious???

    • Hi Shaun. Pain or discomfort on its own is difficult to diagnose without other symptoms. The pain under the left rib cage may or may not be related to the ankle pain. Take notice of other symptoms. If you find your symptoms worsen or ease after eating then it may be related to digestive problems. The same applies if you are having nausea, heartburn, indigestion, constipation of diarrhea. If you notice urinary symptoms like frequent urination, burning or pain when urinating then it could be a kidney problem instead. Remember that the spleen, diaphragm, heart and lung also lie in and around this area.

  • Andrea Phitidis

    About 2 months ago I started waking up with discomfort under right breast around the rib close to the breastbone. It is sensitive and hurts to the touch and to me feels like a swelling of some kind. I had a benign growth removed from the breast around that area 2 years ago, so I was worried it may be another one. Had a car accident shortly after this new swelling and asked doctor who checked me out to have a look. She did a full breast check and also felt the area in question but could not feel what I could feel. Went for an x ray and ultrasound and they were both clear. But I can STILL feel the swelling and it seems to hurt involuntarily now during the day as well as to the touch and sometimes with a sharp pain. Any suggestions, and should I be worried?

    • Hi Andrea. There are several possibilities and you may want to read more on breastbone pain
      The condition that could be responsible for this discomfort is costochondritis where the cartilage at the end of the rib which joins to the breastbone becomes inflamed and swollen. This may be one possibility. If an x-ray or ultrasound has not been able to isolate any problem then a MRI scan may be advisable but this is largely by your doctor’s discretion.

      • Andrea Phitidis

        Thanks for that. She definitely did not see a need for an MRI, but I will see someone else if this persists. I read up about a related condition, Tietze Syndrome, which seems to line up with the symptoms and causes, as perhaps the initial problem was exacerbated by my car accident. It seems it can take up to 3 months to resolve which would explain the fact that it is still causing discomfort. Could this be a possibility? I’m jut looking for any way to rule out a more sinister problem!

        • Hi Andrea. As you will see on the link provided in the previous reply, Tietze’s syndrome is mentioned next to costochondritis. The two conditions are very similar but Tietze’s syndrome is much less common than costochondritis. Yes, Tietze’s syndrome is definitely a possibility and is more likely to cause swelling of the costal cartilages as compare to costochondritis. There are no definitive investigations to confirm Tietze’s syndrome. A MRI scan may be helpful but often the diagnosis is made when other conditions of the chest area have been excluded. Once again this must be discussed with your doctor who will conduct the necessary investigations. Self-diagnosis can be dangerous here because vital organs lie in the chest which could be he cause of the discomfort despite the swelling that indicates more of a chest wall problem.

  • Kristy MacBride

    My 26 yo son has had severe GERD all of his life and has recently had his 2 nd dilation. He has started taking Nexium daily. He now has a pain in his ULQ near the spleen and has a rash over the area as well. The pain has been approx 3 weeks and rash about 2 wks. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kristy. The point to consider here is whether his pain and rash is linked to his history of GERD. It may or may not be. As you can see from the article above, an isolated rash on the abdomen with pain may be due to shingles. There could be other causes but it is difficult to say through an online platform. He should consult with his doctor who can examine the area and conduct further tests in order to reach a definitive diagnosis.

      • Kristy MacBride

        It was shingles!

        • Thank you for letting us know Kristy. To other readers, shingles is not the only condition that could cause a skin rash on the abdomen with pain. Meningococcal disease is another possible cause as well as a few other infections. In meningococcal disease there are usually other major symptoms like fever, headaches, vomiting and so on with the rash.

  • Mat

    Hi I’m 14, and every time I run or jog I have a sharp stabbing pain about 4 inches below my heart just below my ribs, whenever I stop running it slowly stops but I’m starting to become concerned.

    • Hi Matt. Pains associated with strenuous physical activity is often muscular in origin in your age group. Remember that the abdominal muscles (which start up as high as where you report the pain) play an important role in walking or running. They stabilize the torso while the bottom half of your body is moving and this can be quite taxing on the muscles especially if you are not well conditioned. Of course, there could be a host of other causes some of which may be serious but it is difficult to say if this is the case until you see a doctor in person.

  • Ashish Agr

    hello doctors …..
    i m suffring from a sweet pain under the ribs and same pain on back upper left side …..its since a week …kindly guide

    • Hi Ashish. It is difficult to say for sure what the cause of the pain may be. As you can see from the article above there are many possible causes. You do not mention other symptoms that could help assist us with isolating possible causes. You should speak to your doctor and undergo further investigations. This could be a problem with the stomach, kidney, spleen and so on. Your doctor will advise you further.

  • Rick H

    I’ve had a pain that runs under my left rib cage. Saw Dr he said it was chest wall spasms. I’m not so sure. Pain comes and goes. Said to use over the counter pain meds. Very concerned. Please advise

    • Hi Rick. It could very well be a chest wall problem like muscular spasm. This type of pain typically feels like a cramping ache and is usually superficial. If you feel slightly deeper pain then it could be the stomach, gallbladder, a portion of the large bowels and if it’s more towards the back then kidney problems may also be a consideration. As you can see there are many possibilities. The stomach, transverse colon, kidney and spleen sits under the left rib cage as well, either partially or entirely. It’s difficult to say what the cause may be solely on the pain. You may want to see an internist for further evaluation.

  • RyGuy


    35 year old male, 6’1″ 205lbs. 8 weeks ago had emergency VP shunt revision for NP Hydrocephalus after shunt failure. Since then I’ve had sporadic intense pains around ribs 1-3 on left front, occasionally accompanied by sharp pain around left clavicle. Surgeons are stumped. The pain can last 5 minutes or 2 days. Norco 10/325 helped take the sharpness away, but not fully.

    • Hell RyGuy. Thank you for sharing your experience. As you can see on the internet, many patients with a VP shunt experience similar symptoms. It is of course important that it is monitored to ensure that there is no shunt failure or that the pain is related to an infection and so on.

  • t.epperson

    Hi doctors.. I have been having sharp pain in my left upper side below my breast and it gets worse when I do anything or even when I just lay down.. my left arm hurts at times and when I wake up my left jaw hurts so bad I can barely move it. My chest feels like it’s gonna burst but my heart rate seems normal.. . any suggestions on what might be happen ??

    • Hi Lepperson. Chest pain, arm pain and jaw pain, especially when it is left-sided, always raises the concern of a cardiac condition like angina. The fact that it worsens when you move further raises the concern. It is advisable that you see a doctor immediately even if your heart rate seems normal. You will require further tests like a stress ECG, blood tests and maybe even a coronary angiogram if your doctor finds it necessary. Of course this could be a musculoskeletal problem especially if you have strained your left side recently. However, the likelihood of these symptoms being cardiac in origin means that you first need to get your heart checked up. See your doctor immediately.

  • stephanie feltham

    Hi there everyone! ….,

    im pretty much the im pretty much the same as ” hurting mom! ” for the last 4 too 5 years if not abit longer!!… ive been suffering from what i would say and call severe pain in my rib cage on BOTH the left and right side and it radiates into my which it is at the moment and finding and causing too be VERY! painful even with just sitting down just doing this is causing extremely painful!.
    anyway the my GP first thought the pain was left over from undiagnosed severe chest infection that another doctor at the surgery didn’t diagnosed properly and i just got called ” being over paranoid! ” as it was just as all the ” swine flu” was coming out so the other doctor that i saw and reckoned it pain left over from the misdiagnosed chest infection sent for a x-ray and blood test! whilst putting me on a weeks course off amoxcillian the blood came back fine and normal! and the blood test came back fine and normal but the x-ray showed up a slight changed to my lung on the right side which at the time was the main place i was experiencing this pain so then put me on a further 10 day course of the same antibiotic had i previously been for a week ( as stated above! it was amoixcilllan ) then done another further chest x-ray and that one came back clear all good! and doing so the pain went away for a bit then suddenly came back!, so i went back too see the same doctor and he gave me steroids too take and see how i got on with taking them! again they worked and the pain went again but then after awhile it came back and so i went back to the doctors and saw a completely different doctor pior too the other two that saw and this doctor done the same routine check up felt my abdomen and listened too my chest and check my heart and everything else and yet again i was sent for another x-ray for suspected pleurisy again the x-ray came back clear and fine and normal so then i saw various over locum doctors who have all either say it indigestion, ibs, and a repetitive strain in the abdomen and that would just keep restraining every time i got a cold or a cough due too the strain off the cold and cough.
    but all these years on im still getting all these pains still and now worse and more than ever ive had an abdomen ultra sound and blood test ALL off which came back fine but whislt i was having my ultra sound the lady doing it asked if i was treated at my local hospital for the pancreatits yet nothing was mentioned about in the results report! … and now my GP (as stated above also the one i see all the time!) …. now thinks it gastro and put me on lanprozonle ( sorry not sure on the spelling as you’ve properly guessed! and peptic liquid ive also had an HbA1C blood test done to check for diabetes as its on both sides of my family my mums family is affected more but by having a cousin with type on 1 diabetes sadly die from being in a diabetic coma and my mums dad is a severe type 1 diabetic too! and my nan on my dads side is a type 2 diabetic and the reason for this blood test was cause i was experiencing all the signs and symptoms of diabetes too at the time this was all going on and i still go through stages off experiencing all the sign and symptoms off diabetes and as i have been tablets too reduce the heart rate of my heart as it was beating at 126 beats so i just have no idea what is going with me im also on citalopram and amitriplyne ( sorry as i stated above i am not very good at spelling! so sorry!) i just someone can help as im sick off being pumped full of different medicines/medications now! and my GP not knowing whats wrong me either! 🙁 thanks again guys for reading this and so sorry this so long too! 🙁

    many thanks,


    • Hi Stephanie. This seems to be an ongoing problem for you and at this point you should have been consulting with a pulmonologist (lung specialist). The consideration that this may be a lung problem is correct but as you have mentioned, the repeated x-rays have been clear. I’m sure somebody would have also done a check on the kidneys, gallbladder and pancreas during these repeated consultations. It is difficult to say for sure on an online platform and you need to see one doctor who can then run various investigations to confirm/exclude his/her differential diagnosis. The fact that the pain is on both sides, with no urinary symptoms at this point does make it less likely to be a kidney problem. Apart from muscle strain, which is a common cause of abdominal pain, there is also the possibility that this could be a colon-related problem although you have not mentioned any digestive symptoms. You may want to see a gastroenterologist for further assessment who can then refer you on to another specialist if it is indeed not a gastrointestinal problem.

  • mary

    Hi doctors,

    I am 37 years old man. I have been suffering form a chronic pain for about 10 years in left lateral (flank) of my intestine after eating a meal (particularly after dinner). I always feel discomfort for defecation. This pain causes me to wake up automatically at midnight for defecation. I have done all medical tests (endoscopy, radiography,…) but my disease has not been diagnosed. I feel disappointed and frustrated please help me if you have any suggestion. Thank you

    • HI Mary. The long term nature of this condition coupled with the lack of any pathological findings with all the investigations you mentioned may mean that the condition you have is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact IBS presents with symptoms like the urge to defecate a short while after eating, abdominal discomfort that may worsen with eating and other factors and altered bowel habit in general. IBS is a very common condition but it does not pose any serious threat to your health although it can affect your life in various ways.

      You may want to read more about it here
      Nevertheless it is advisable to seek further advice from a medical professional. Rather let your doctor confirm or exclude a diagnosis of IBS.

      • mary

        Dear doctor,
        Thanks for your immediate response.

  • in pain

    hi i just had pneumonia and the coughing was horrible, now it feels like i knot below my ribs just in middle left of my abdomen. if i press down on it i feel a little pain at my left hip and down my leg. i been diagnosed with sciatica in my left leg, (walking used to lessen and get ride of the pain in the back of my leg), but since the pneumonia, coughing and that knot the pain in the back of my left leg is unbelievable especially when I’m standing or walking, to even walk the 30 steps to the bathroom, i have to stop more than twice to stop the pain. I would be grateful for any suggestions on what is going on and what i need to do to lessen the pain and/or fix the problem i have

    • Hi In Pain. You may be experiencing symptoms from two different conditions here. Firstly the upper abdominal pain could definitely be related to the coughing you were experiencing when you had pneumonia. Coughing places significant strain on the muscles of the chest wall as well as the large flat muscle known as the diaphragm which separates the chest and abdomen. If it is muscle strain then it should slowly ease over time.

      However, if it is related to something like an abdominal hernia or hiatal hernia then it will require medical treatment. The sciatica seems to be a separate issue here. It affects the nerves arising from the lower back which runs down the legs. So it will definitely be causing some of the symptoms you mention when standing or walking. Rather see a doctor about it and get advise after a physical examination.

  • Andrea P


    Hoping to get some direction. I been experiencing pain on the left side of my rib cage. I’ve been to the doctors several times and no one knows where this is coming from. It hurts most when I’m sitting down. Sometimes twisting to my left causes a sharp pain too. I find relief once I’m laying down for several hours. The pain is constant and just feels as though it burns as it intensifies. Sometimes the pain can be in the front of the left rib cage, or on the side and sometimes even in the back. This has been going on now for almost 2 years and I don’t know what to do or who to see. For the record they did discover that I had what’s called an ectopic liver (liver tissue) in that same general area and its very small and I’ve been told that there’s no way that can be the cause of my pain. I’m so exhausted of just living day in and day in pain and no one seems to know why. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Andrea. As you can see from the article above, there are many possible causes of pain in that area. The abdominal cavity has so many organs that it is difficult to isolate a cause just on pain alone. Often the pain along with other symptoms are more likely to give a clue to the underlying cause. For example, if you had pain in the region with urinary symptoms then a kidney problem would be suspected. Pain with diarrhea could be due to a pancreas or gallbladder problem. For this reason it is necessary to have further investigations like an endoscopy to isolate a possible cause and then it will be assessed further. You may also want to consider other conditions like a hiatal hernia, gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. It is difficult to say for sure what may be causing this through an online platform, and even more so since you do mention any other symptoms apart from pain. Your condition should be assessed by a specialist like a gastroenterologist as a starting point. Speak to your doctor.

  • donna

    Hi I have had 3 times today that I had a very sharp pain starting at side of right breast & shooting down right down to top of leg also have noticed my hands have blue grey tinge I have no shortness of breath at all bit worried

    • Hi Donna. It is possible that the pain and hand symptoms are unrelated. This abnormal color of your fingers could be due to anemia or Raynaud’s phenomenon. You can read up on these conditions although it does not usually start up overnight. The pain extending from your right breast to leg could be due to a host of causes but you may want to look at possible kidney conditions. Without consulting with a doctor and undergoing further investigations it is difficult to say for sure. Speak to your doctor.

  • Christine

    Hi, I’ve been having pain under the rib cage on both sides but mainly on the left for a while now (a year or so). It normally happens when I’m sitting down and lasts for a few minutes and goes away. Its very intense upon inspiration so I have to breath shallow until it goes away. I dont want to go to a doctor and run tests if I dont need to spend the money. What should I do?

    • Hi Christine. Tests are necessary especially when you are experiencing just pain without any other symptoms. This could be due to a lung, heart or digestive tract problem. The only way to know for sure is with diagnostic investigations like an x-ray or ultrasound. Depending on the cause you may even need surgery. Delaying for too long could lead to complications which could mean even more costly treatment and management in the future. If it is one of the more serious conditions, delaying treatment could even be life-threatening. As you can see there are many possible causes for the pain that you are experiencing. It could be a gallbladder, pancreas or stomach problem like a hiatal hernia but it could also be a problem with the vital organs like the heart. Speak to your doctor about your options.

  • Christine

    Hi, Im 21 and have been having sharp pain under my ribs that is worsened upon inspiration for about a year now. It only lasts a few minutes, normally when I’m sitting down without warning, and occurs maybe 3 times a month. It happens on the right side as well but mainly on the left. i dont want to spend the money for tests if I dont have to but Im worried and dont know what to do.

  • Beckie

    Hi Doctors,

    I woke up this morning with an odd pain, not sharp, just more discomfort right below my rib cage, left side. And I have had to go to the bathroom a few times as well. This is not something that is normal for me, so I was wondering what you thing and what you would do?
    Thank you in advance and have a wonderful day

  • Hudspeth

    A few days ago, while sitting down, I bent over to reach for an item I had dropped, I felt a sharp pain directly below my rib cage (on the left side). After a few minutes, the sharp pain subsided but an acute soreness remained in the area for an hour or so. When the pain abated, I put it off as a strain and forgot about it.
    The next few days were uneventful but, particularly after sitting for a while, I have been experiencing moderate soreness in the same area.
    I am a 68 year old man with generally good health and I exercise regularly.
    Any suggestions for alleviation or causes?

    • Hi Hudspeth. Often this is muscular strain and more likely to occur if you are not a physically fit person. Stretching excessively and putting strain on muscles that are not conditioned can trigger spasm which is very sore for a short while thereafter and the soreness can persist for days. Even though you do exercise regularly it is still possibly to strain a muscle. However, there is no way of knowing for sure and given your age it is always a good idea to have persistent soreness or pain checked up by a medical doctor. There may be some underlying problem that has not as yet been diagnosed.

  • rushtal

    Hi doctor
    I had stone case on my left kidney before 9month I took completely one course of medicine after that I relief from pain but from last 3 days I hardly pain on my left rib cage …i concernd doctor took x ray n echo test and also my doctor provide some medicine to relief the pain but still paining…i feel like suddenly someone hold tightly n release in my left side rib cage please suggest me what going on me and how to relief my pain..

    • Hi Rushtal. Without knowing what is causing this pain we cannot suggest any ways to relieve it. The main question here is whether this pain now is in any way linked to the previous kidney stones that you had. Kidney stones do tend to recur but not always. Since it is a 9 month gap there is the possibility that this kidney stones. You do not mention what the x-ray and ultrasound has reveal. If you are not finding any relief with the prescribed medication then you should go back to your doctor and get a referral to a medical specialist.

  • Marco Freeman

    I am starting to become really worried, 5 days ago i drank and smoked quite a bit of ciggarrettes, then I went to sleep, and when i woke up is when i felt this incredibly sharp pain in my left rib cage, I thought nothing of it at first but after 5 days went by and the pain hasn`t even decreased in the slighest, i`m starting to worry it`s something serious, I went to the doctor he checked my blood pressure, and my breathing and said everything was fine and it was likely a pulled muscle, but how can i pull my muscle in my sleep? and is it a coincidence i feel this pain after drinking and smoking a lot of cigarettes the night before? also the pain also seems to be the worst right when I wake up, but i feel it through-out the day and breathing in gives me intense sharp pains, should I get xrays on my chest at this point? any help would be appreciated.

  • tracy

    Hi I have been having bad pain just below my rib cage on the left hand side.
    And also it is very tender to touch and hurts when I breath and move about.
    I have tramadol for my lower back pain but it’s not touching the pain by my ribs.
    Any help would be much appreciated xx

    • Hi Tracy. The question at this point is whether the problem is on the surface or internal. There are several organs that lie in this area like the stomach, spleen, kidneys, portion of the small and large. The pancreas and gallbladder can also cause pain in this region. It is advisable that you follow up with your doctor at this point or get a referral to a specialist in internal medicine if necessary. Pain on its own is difficult to diagnose. You have not mentioned any other symptoms or a possible diagnosis. Hopefully you have been seeing a doctor and not treating yourself.

  • JC McGee

    Hello. I am a 43 yof who has had a pain just below the ribcage on my left side but more towards the back. I does hurt more to the touch and a little more if I take a deep breath almost like there’s not enough room in that area once I inhale the lungs. It doesn’t feel like a muscular problem but a lot like an organ that’s inflamed or swollen or something else along those lines. I just don’t know which organ it could be. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi JC. It could be the stomach, spleen or left kidney. Really difficult to say for sure without other symptoms being present. Disease of all three organs could increase pain when taking a deep breath as the diaphragm flattens and pushes down on it. Urinary symptoms would obviously indicate a kidney problem while digestive symptoms are more likely due to a stomach problem. You will have to follow up with a doctor.

      • JC McGee

        Hello. Well, I wanted to touch base with you and tell you what my doctor found as I did end up going to the er as I couldn’t endure the pain any longer. It was kidney failure due to a mass (tumor) that closed off my uterers and was forcing my urine back up into my kidneys. The tumor is being diagnosed as Lymphoma and is the size of a man’s fist. It has also encompassed my aortic valve that circulates blood down through the legs and the vein that circulates the blood out of the legs. The biopsy was extremely painful so for those of you who may be having this particular procedure done, they’re lying to you when they say “you’ll feel a little poke then some pressure”.
        I now have 2 nephrostomy tubes (one for each kidney) coming out of my back with a bag attached to each one to collect my urine. I now get to empty these bags every couple of hours and log what was drained. I only get about 4 hours of sleep at a time now as it is very difficult to get comfortable and I have to drain the bags anyhow.
        At any rate, I felt as though I should inform you of the results after seeing the doctor as I inquired to you initially before seeing the doctor. Funny thing, two weeks ago I didn’t have one doctor, now I have five.
        Thank you for your insight into my particular situation, I truly appreciate it. Have a great day!!

        • Hi JC. Thank you for updating us. It will be very helpful to all our readers. Glad we could have been of some assistance. Hope you are keeping well and best wishes to your continued recovery.

  • Kelli

    Hi, I have constant pain under the lower part of my rib cage. I had blood work, ultra sound, and urine test. All came back clear. I’m going to the bathroom regularly and passing gas normal. I was also given a shot of pain medication and it didn’t seem to help. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • Hi Kelli. Pain under the rib cage may not only be due to the kidneys. Assuming that you are talking about the left side, the stomach, spleen and portion of the colon lie here. Furthermore the surrounding organs like the gallbladder, pancreas and small bowel may also cause symptoms in this region. There is also the possibility that this is not emanating from the abdomen but from the chest or even the chest wall. Pain on its own with no other symptoms is difficult to diagnose. You should follow up with your doctor and maybe see a gastroenterologist as well if you notice any digestive symptoms.

  • Cherie

    I have had pain below my left rib cage since November 2014. It moves around to the side, or sometimes the lower back, all on the left side. Had MRI came out normal. It can be a dull ache or sharp pain. It is pretty constant. I have gurd and obesity. Doctor says it is because of my weight. Can you help? My doctor is blowing it off, but the pain is chronic.

    • Hi Cherie. Obesity can cause many symptoms with no significant underlying problem. It is mainly associated with the strain on the musculoskeletal system due to the excess weight. If there are no other significant symptoms and additional tests like an endoscopy and so is clear then the only solution may be to look again at the weight issue. Of course numerous conditions can cause this type of pain and may be not just due to the weight issue. In the region you are experiencing the pain it could be due to gastritis, peptic ulcers, a hiatal hernia and so on. It may also be associated with the spleen or kidney that lies in this region as well as portions of the colon that lie here. Pain on its own is difficult to diagnose when no other symptoms indicate a possible cause. It may be a good idea to consult with a gastroenterologist.

  • Jennifer

    I am experiencing left side pain under my ribs toward the back. Yesterday I was experiencing a sharp, cramp like pain in my lower abdomen as well that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. That pain has lessened but im still experiencing some pain in that area along with the pain under my ribs. I’m also experiencing indigestion. Is this stomach related or something else?

    • Hi Jennifer. It could be the stomach but since it is also occurring much lower in the abdomen the colon would be a more likely organ that is affected. Really difficult to say for sure because you are only experiencing pain with no other symptoms like diarrhea or flatulence. It could also be a kidney problem because the kidney lies higher up and the ureter leads from it all the way down the flanks to the bladder. If it is the kidney then there should be some urinary symptoms. It is best to speak to your doctor about this as further tests may be required.

  • Monquie hurt a lot

    I have been dealing with a sharp stabbing pain just under my left rib cage, the pain usually occurs when I move my body a certain way and breathe lightly or heavily, it also increases when I’m laying down or walking. It seems to have made me quite tired, I’m very sluggish, I seem to still have an appitite, but am devolving a slight fever, I was also have had irregular bowel movements with myself having constipation, I do not know if this is related. I haven’t been to the doctors yet and I was just wondering if it was something minor or serious? Do you have any answers?

    • Hi Monique. The symptoms you describe can occur with a number of different conditions. It may be arising from the digestive system or even the kidney and urinary tract. It is difficult to say with any certainty. The fact that you are experiencing symptoms like persistent/recurrent pain, a fever and fatigue needs to be investigated by a medical professional. We cannot say with any certainty whether this is serious or not but you should be seeing a doctor at this point.

  • Monquie hurt a lot

    I have been dealing with a sharp stabbing pain just under my left rib cage, the pain usually occurs when I move my body a certain way and breathe lightly or heavily, it also increases when I’m laying down or walking. It seems to have made me quite tired, I’m very sluggish, I seem to still have an appitite, but am devolving a slight fever, I was also have had irregular bowel movements with myself having constipation, I do not know if this is related. I haven’t been to the doctors yet and I was just wondering if it was something minor or serious? Do you have any answers?

  • nicole

    I’ve had a constant sharp pain in my left side for two days now, I’ve gone to the doctor for it three weeks ago but he didn’t wait for the urine sample to come back and gave me amoxicillin for an assumed kidney infection. After I finished the treatment the pain came back, and the ER said they couldn’t find anything wrong (infection or otherwise) and gave me two Tylenol and sent me on my way. The pain never goes away and is worse when I lay or walk. Any insight as to what I should do would be appreciated.

    • Hi Nicole. The results of the urine test is very important and you don’t mention what it was. Ideally you should go back to the doctor who first tested you and prescribed the antibiotics. It will allow him to follow up on his initial suspicions and confirm or rule out possible causes. This may require further diagnostic investigation. You don’t mention any urinary symptoms so while it could be a kidney infection there may also be other possibilities. As you can see from the article above, there are many possible causes apart from kidney problems, such as stomach and spleen disorders. The only way to know for sure is to follow up with you doctor. The ER is just there to stabilize a patient and exclude potentially life-threatening condition. Your family doctor should be overseeing your condition in the long term.

  • melissa

    hi I have been having pain on my left side right under the lift rib cage for a couple years on and off,but now the last week I have been having pain constantly.Hurts in certain position to breath and move.Also in the same area I would double over to the point of not being able to move it felt like my insides were rolling,i couldent even move.i think I might have blood in bowl dark black not all of it just some.

    • Hi Melissa. Pain in this region could be due to the stomach, spleen or kidney among other organs as is mentioned in the article. Digestive tract problems are more likely given the possible blood in the stool. Gastritis, peptic ulcers and a hiatal hernia are some of the conditions that need to be considered, and it is possible that there is more than one condition affecting you. Pain with movement and breathing does point more towards a hiatal hernia. Of course these conditions can only be confirmed once further tests are done. The gallbladder and pancreas can also not be ruled out as the possible origin of the problem. A doctor will need to assess you further.

  • Angieelle

    Hi so im not sure what i have but this started about 3 days ago but it started getting worse as of today but i get full really quickly (i got full with on banana for breakfast) then i get pain under my left ribs,also now at the same time i just started getting chest pain on the same side near my heart this lasted for quite a few minutes but i was laying down and the two pervious days weren’t as bad i just felt a sharp pain while laying down for 3 seconds or so and now i feel hungry again but as soon as something enters my stomach i feel so full and starts over again the pain comes when I’m laying down mostly after a snack but the full and lower rib pain kinda stays either way for minutes and I’ve been loosing weight but thats because of my diet I’ve been on so I’ve been restricting calories too. (to many actually but I’m working on that)

  • Sheikh

    Hi, I am 28 year old male, have been experiencing mild pain under left(extreme) rib cage for over last few months, previously during day time I almost didn’t feel it, but during sleep I would wake up off mild pain if I had been sleeping on the left side. I don’t have any stomach problems, constipation etc. Now I can feel the dull pain sometimes in the daytime also. Please suggest… Worried!!

    • Hi Sheikh. You may not be aware of the underlying stomach problems that you could have. You should consult with a gastroenterologist who can do further investigations like an upper GI endoscopy. However, it may not be the stomach either. There are so many organs in the part of the abdomen that it is difficult to say for sure. Pain on its own is difficult to identify especially when there are no accompanying symptoms.

  • Shannon Mazzone

    Hi Doctors,

    MY daughter is 14 turning 15 soon and she has been complaining about a stabbing pain under her left rib? It used to come and go 4-5 times a day but latley (this week) she hasn’t been sleeping because it’s not going away. The pain is there all the time but becomes stonger when she breaths in.. she is normally a tough girl but this has got her in tears at times. Do ypu have an idea what it could be and do I need to take her to hospital? Or do I let her wait till tomorrow for the doctors? Thankyou

  • Chelsey

    OK so I’ve been having really bad pains under my left rib cage I’m really tired having bad migraines and I get really dizzy and my vision blacks out help?

  • Heather

    I am 34 years old. A couple of months ago I started doing the Atkins diet. I am still doing low carbs but I find myself on the weekends eating whatever I want. Recently after eating I get a dull pain in my left rib cage area. Usually it will last for an hour or two and then go away. Its not every time I eat but seems to be getting more frequent. What could this be?

    • Hi Heather. There are many organs in any given quadrant of the abdominal cavity and it is difficult to isolate a cause on pain alone. Other symptoms could give a clue to the possible cause of the pain. You may be looking at a host of possible conditions from a stomach problem to kidney conditions. It is advisable that you see a doctor who can then undertake further tests based on his/her findings of a clinical examination. Take note of any additional symptoms like if the pain starts after eating, your urine patterns have changed and so on.

  • Jordon Simonetti

    Hello, my names Jordon. Ive been experiencing a sharp pain in my left rib cage under my pectorial for the past year and it gets worse when i inhale deeply or exhale deeply when it starts up.. BUT it isnt constant or consistent, it comes and goes randomly and only happens for about 5-10 minutes.. Any ideas???

    • Uttam Shrestha

      i am having the same problem. it hurts when you inhale or exhale deeply, there is sharp jolt of pain in the left rib cage. i have to use computer most of the time, so my sitting posture may not be right; most of the time my backbone is bent, i wonder it might be the cause of it, and it is also not consistent like u said, it comes and goes randomly.

  • Dan

    I have occasional dull pain under the lower middle left rib cage area. Mainly bothers me most when I am driving my car for more than 2 or more hours. I have to keep moving and stretching to help it feel better. Any ideas?

  • Criss Mabbit

    Hello, female, 18. When I lay flat on my back then bend up. A inch down from my rage cage hurts on my left side in the front in one area. I have lost and gained weight. Its only been two day but I would like to know if I should go to the doctors or if is just gas pain. Please help.

  • Bright74

    About a week ago, I got a sharp pain in my upper mid back, just to the left of my spine, after putting a large heavy pan on a high shelf. I had the back pain for about 3 days, but excedrin would always take the pain away. I used heat and ice which always helped as well The pain has now moved from my back to just under my left rib cage., more to the left. It is the same kind of pain I had in my back. Excedrin takes the pain away every time. I have no rash or other ailments. Thinking it was a stretched or pinched nerve, but now, I am not sure. I am a 60 year old female. Thanks,

  • Danny Lou

    Hi. I don’t know if you are still answering comments, but I thought it was worth a shot, and thank you in advance for any help or advice!

    Anyways, for the past 3 months or so, I’ve been have a weird sensation in my left quadrant of my chest and abdomen. I have a tender spot on my ribs, where my top left abdominal muscle sits, and sometimes the pain radiates to my back, there is a tender spot there as well. I would also describe it as a feeling of pressure or fullness in my lower left abdomen, possibly my spleen. Overall, I feel healthy, but these few changes in my body have been nagging at me, and they do sometimes seem to get better, but the symptoms always come back. During this same period of time, there was a week or two where my hands felt like they had nerve damage, it would take extra effort to grab certain things, and sometimes my fingers would seize up randomly. That symptom got better after I rubbed ointment on my arms and wrists, but my hands still don’t feel 100%, it still feels like some nerves or tendons are messed up.

    The symptoms are worse when i sit down, and the area around my belly button also feels sensitive. My diet and sleep schedule are normal, no nausea or fatigue, my athletic performance is still the same. I went to the doctor for a physical and an x-ray, both came back normal. Any advice?

  • Fifteen-year-old girl

    I have been sick with a fever for around 3-5 days now and the first day I woke up without a fever I felt a sharp pain under my heart, under the left rib cage. Recently I haven’t eaten much since I’ve been sick. I have tried reading about it and I think it might have something to do with me having some air trapped in that area. It has been more than 24 hours and the sharp pain is still there. I can barely move and the positions I know of that don’t hurt are a few sitting positins and laying on my back. I’m also having a bit of a problem breathing deeply, it hurts too much. I have experienced this pain before but it has never been this bad and it hasn’t lasted this long. The pain sort of feels like I’m being stabbed or as if there is a needle stinging me.

  • theiaoakes

    Hi, Dx with gallstones, but atypical pain sharp stabbing constantly under left rib not right, which is tender under, sometimes going around back ribs. Digestion poor and no appetite for 3 months, nausea, giddiness, severe bloating, tightness of diaphragm. CT scan normal other than small Hiatal hernia and a diverticulum. Bloods Ok other than low Vit D and sl raised GGT/ white cells. Endoscopy normal. Having the gallbladder out but no Dr could tell me what the left pain is caused by – could it be gallbladder to blame, h hernia or something else? Is it advisable to get 2nd opinion before the surgery?

  • Kathryn Clark

    My dad 86 was stepping down a shallow step and felt 2 pops and pain under his left rib now he cannot pick his left foot up to walk without the same pain. It only happened last night. He is in no pain when sitting and van lift his leg in this position with no problems

    • Hi Kathryn. Given his age, it would be best that he speaks to a doctor as soon as possible. While this may not seem serious, it could be a problem that may worsen over time and lead to complications. This does seem to be more musculoskeletal but the only way to know for sure is to have the necessary diagnostic investigations that his doctor will advise.

  • Sherry Crane

    I have been having severe pain for a week in left side in ribs and under left breast . Sometimes the pain is so severe it feels as if someone is stabbing me. I also hurt in left kidney area. And I can’t get much sleep because I sleep on left side and the pain gets so bad I get in recliner and lean back to get any sleep. Don’t have Gallbladder, appendix and have had complete hysterectomy

    • HI Sherry. There are many possible causes for pain in this area as you can see from the article above. This could be your kidney but there is also the possibility of cardiac (heart problems), a hiatal hernia and so on. The only way to know for sure is to see a doctor and you will possibly need to undergo further diagnostic investigation to confirm the underlying cause. Speak to your doctor and he/she will advise you accordingly.

  • pradeep

    I hav an small pus like thing in my upper left abdominl regin under ribs its pain only wen I pressed it wat is doctors?? Wat should I do

  • Dan

    my gf is experiencing throbbing pain just under the twelfth rib poisteriorly .her back appears too be slightly distended around the pain. is this the kidney possibly irritated

    • Hi Dan. A bit difficult to say for sure. Remember that there are many organs in the abdominal cavity, even on the left side. Yes, it could be the kidney. The only way to know for sure is to have her assessed by a medical professional. After considering other symptoms that may be present and the findings of a physical examination, the doctor may then request further tests and scans to confirm the diagnosis. Pain on its own can be misleading at times.

  • Daniel S.

    I am 49, nonsmoker, nondrinker, and started having a sharp pain in the upper left abdomen when I take a deep breath, or when I lay down. pain is where the esophagus meets the stomach. Had CT scan which showed nothing of importance. Pain radiates to back and left shoulder, I’m dumbfounded.

    • Hi Daniel. Sometimes upper abdominal symptoms can be linked to cardiac conditions which becomes more of a concern as you get older. It is difficult to advise you any further considering that you have sought medical attention and no abnormality was detected with a CT scan. Conditions like pancreatitis and gallstones could to some extent be responsible for these symptoms. It is advisable to have it reassessed by another doctor.

  • michienycstyle

    Hi, I’ve been experiencing pain in left lower rib area, difficult to breath sometimes. Also it feels like there is something blocking my upper digestive area. It is difficult to belch or even eat a full meal. I went to the ER , they checked my lungs and heart which seemed fine. I was able to belch, although it was difficult even though I had the urge to. I have also been experiencing dizziness..

    • Hi Michienycstyle. It is always advisable to follow up with your family doctor afterwards. Remember that teh ER is only focused on excluding serious and life threatening conditions, like a lung or heart problem as you mention. You doctor will then follow through and possibly run further investigations into your symptoms. From what you describe, it may be important to consider conditions like a hiatal hernia. Please note that this is not a diagnosis but just a suggestion. Your doctor will be able to advise you further about other possible conditions beyond a hiatal hernia.