Feeling Stabbing Pain Under Left Rib Cage? – A Guide to Left Rib Pain

Having pain under left rib cage? Pain under the rib cage, either left or right, is not an uncommon symptom. Identifying the cause for your hurting ribs can make you treat it easily. But if you experience sharp pain left side under ribs, you should see a doctor immediately for diagnosis and proper treatment.

The rib cage protects the vital organs within the thoracic cavity and the upper part of the abdomen. Any physical injury to the ribs or the infection of any organs inside the rib cage can cause sharp pain under left rib cage. Are you experiencing left rib pain when coughing, after eating or before a bowel movement?

Here I provided the possible causes and treatments for the pain in left side under ribs. Most of the causes can be treated with simple medications and only a few complex cases need a medical surgery. So don’t be panic about the rib pain.

Causes of the Pain Under Left Rib Cage

Let us see in detail about the causes of the pain below the left side of the rib cage.

pain under left rib cage

1. Injury

Any physical injury to your ribs can cause sharp or mild pain in your rib cage. An injury is the most common cause for the pain under left rib cage.

Inflammation or bruising may cause sore ribs or a dull pain under the left rib cage, but fracture could cause a sharp pain under ribs.

The symptoms include sharp pain under the left rib cage when breathing or pressing the ribs, while stretching, and bending, feeling this discomfort on the left side of stomach and back pain. If you meet with an accident or Trauma, first consult a health care professional for a full health, because it may cause severe problems.

2. Spleen Damage

The spleen is situated under your rib cage in the upper left part of your abdomen. It is responsible for many necessary functions of your body such as defending against infection, acts as a blood filter, replaces old red blood cells, storing white blood cells and platelets, etc.

An enlarged spleen or a ruptured spleen may lead to pain on left side under ribs. This one also leads to left rib pain after eating.

A number of infections and diseases may cause an enlarged spleen. The primary causes for the swelling are viral, bacterial or parasitic infections, Liver diseases, hemolytic anemia, some types of blood cancers, metabolic disorders and pressure on the veins in the spleen.

After examining your left upper abdomen with CT scan, MRI scan and blood tests your doctor will give you the treatment process. The surgical removal of the spleen may be an option.

3. Acid Reflux

The pain under the left rib cage can also be from acid reflux. The acid reflux occurs when an excess stomach acid is produced by your stomach and move up into your esophagus.

This can create a sharp pain under the left rib cage after eating in most cases, especially if the food was highly acidic or spicy.

The symptoms include Heartburn, Regurgitation, bloating, bloody stool, nausea, hiccups, burping, dysphagia, wheezing, weight loss and dry cough.

Eat smaller meals, avoid spicy foods, quit smoking and alcohol, don’t wear tight clothes, Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps and consult your doctor for better improvements.

4. Gas Pain

A sharp pain under the left or right rib cage can denote a gas pain.

Gas pain occurs when gas is formed in your intestine and is not released (trapped within your Intestine) by the body during the digestion process. Usually, intestinal gas is harmless, but it can be painful and uncomfortable. It can cause pain in the upper left side of the abdomen (below the left rib cage)

There are many reasons for this trapped gas and pain, especially the pain occurs due to your food habits.

The possible symptoms are a knotted feeling in your stomach, bloating, belching and Burping, Bad Breath, Flatulence, Lack of Appetite, discomfort on left side of the stomach below the rib cage, cramps in your upper abdomen and stabbing pain under left rib cage.

You can treat this discomfort with the home remedies. If pain continuous for several days, consult your doctor.

5. Infectious Colitis

Most of the stomach lies just under the lower part of the left ribcage within the abdominal cavity. So the infection in the stomach may lead to pain in upper left abdomen under ribs.

Infectious colitis is the inflammation of large intestine or colon due to the foreign infectious agents such as a virus, bacteria or parasites.

The symptoms include lower left stomach pain, dehydration, fever, diarrhea, watery stool or blood in the stool or mucus in the stool, pain on left side of stomach under ribs, gas pain and bloating

The treatment depends on the type of the infectious agent. Drink a lot of fluids to get rid of this problem. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications and antibiotics to reduce the fever and pain.

6. Peptic Ulcer or Stomach Ulcer

It is the most common cause for left side pain under the rib cage. Peptic ulcers are lesions that develop in the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or in the lower esophagus.

Generally, peptic ulcer is due to a result of inflammation caused by erosion from stomach acids or by the bacteria H. pylori.

Peptic ulcers are broadly classified into 3 types.

  • Gastric ulcers (ulcers that develop inside the stomach)
  • Esophageal ulcers: (ulcers that develop inside the esophagus)
  • Duodenal ulcers: (ulcers that develop in the small intestines)

The causes of a peptic ulcer include radiation therapy, smoking, stomach cancer, drinking excessive alcohol and frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

The symptoms of peptic ulcers may include indigestion, nausea, pain below left rib cage or right rib cage, stomach cramps after eating, vomiting, changes in appetite, blood in stool, and unexplained weight loss.

This condition can be easily treated with antibiotics and certain medications.

7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you feel pain under the lower part of the left ribcage, it should be due to Irritable bowel syndrome. It is a common illness that affects the large intestine (colon). This condition causes severe stomach cramping after eating, bloating, stabbing pain on left side under rib cage, diarrhea or constipation. Usually, the pain goes away after you poop.

The related symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pressure, gas, menstrual cramps without bleeding, tiredness, feeling sick stomach, stomach discomfort after eating and spotting mucus in the poop.

8. Costochondritis

It is a swelling of the cartilage in the rib cage. This condition is also known as Tietze’s syndrome or chest wall pain. This causes pain under left rib cage when breathing.

Usually, this condition affects the cartilage where the upper ribs connected to the breastbone, an area called as the costosternal joint. The left rib pain caused by Tietze’s syndrome can range from mild to severe.

People with Tietze’s syndrome often experience sharp pain on left side under ribs, chest pain in the upper and middle rib area on either side of the breastbone. The pain due to Tietze’s syndrome often goes away within a few weeks, but sometimes it may require treatment.

9. Pleurisy

Pleurisy causes inflammation of pleura (a thin layer of tissue that covers the inner side of the chest cavity and a layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs).

During the inhalation and exhalation process, pleura can rub together. Sometimes, the rubbing may lead to inflammation of pleura. This inflammation is termed as pleurisy.

The symptoms include sudden or sharp pain under left rib cage, shortness of breath, stabbing chest pain when breathing, coughing, bending down or lying down, left rib pain when coughing, feeling this discomfort on the left side of stomach and back pain, and pain on the right or left side of the upper chest.

Pleurisy can be treated easily with antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. You must take a complete rest to heal faster.

10. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer may cause pain in your lower abdomen, where the liver is located. Anyone can get lung cancer, but 90 percent of lung cancer cases are the result of smoking.

It is of two types. The non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. In some cases, lung cancer contains both NSCLC and SCLC cells.

Early symptoms include chest pain that worsens when you breathe deeply, laugh, or a cough, coughing up phlegm or blood, hoarseness, lingering or worsening cough, loss of appetite and weight loss, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue and wheezing. Some people consider cancer pain as a pain under left rib cage or right rib cage.

Cancer should be treated at its early stage to cure it completely.

11. Intercostal Muscle Strain

The intercostal muscles are located between your ribs. These intercostal muscles expand and contract to move your ribs. During your breathing process, this helps the lungs to get enough space to inhale and exhale.

Winding your body in unexpected ways can cause the strain on the intercostal muscles.

It causes sore ribs or the pain on the left side below ribs. People who are more prone to this strain are Sports people and physically active people.

Do meditation, relaxation techniques and taking rest to get relief from this muscle strain.

12. Kidney Stones

The left kidney is almost entirely shielded under the left ribcage towards the side and back. The pain due to the formation of kidney stones may also lead to sharp pain on the left side below the rib cage.

Kidney stones can form in your kidneys when the materials in your urine become too concentrated. These stones stay in your kidney or move down your urinary tract and pass out from your body.

The symptoms include sharp pain left side below ribs, discomfort on left side of the stomach below the rib cage and a sharp pain in lower abdomen. Most of the times medications are enough to dissolve the stones and sometimes minor surgery is needed to remove it from your body.

13. Heart Pain

The heart lies in the center of the chest and extends more to the left side. It, therefore, causes central to left-sided chest pain. This seems to be a sharp pain in left side under ribs.

It is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. Seek immediate medical help if it occurs.

In a Nutshell,

Pain under left rib cage is quite common if your ribs are hurt with any trauma. Identifying the cause for your hurting ribs can make you treat it easily.

The rib cage protects your important organs within the thoracic cavity and the upper part of the abdomen. Any physical injury to the ribs or the infection of any organs inside the rib cage can cause sharp pain under left rib cage.

Hope you are clear about the possible causes and treatments for the pain in left side under ribs. Most of the causes can be treated with medications and only a few causes need a surgery. So don’t be panic about the rib pain. But if you experience sharp pain left side under ribs, you should see a doctor immediately for diagnosis and proper treatment.

About the author

Amanda kelly

She is specialized in alternative medicine. As a nature lover, she has a wealth of knowledge on home remedies for a large number of health problems. she has been trying these remedies for many years and you would like them as well. She has experience editing for both the scientific community and the general public. She joined AskMyHealth in 2015. She loves to hike, use her standup paddleboard, and enjoy all life has to offer.

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