Pain under Left Rib Cage

It is an incapacitating condition marked by severe discomfort on the left upper abdominal area, centered under the ribs. It is a serious health issue as the problem could be associated with severe traumatic injuries or some form of a systemic disorder.

What are the symptoms of Pain under Left Rib Cage?

Patients often complain of a sharp, stabbing, shooting or radiating pain under the left rib cage. Tenderness may prevail on the left region of the chest. It is profound when sufferers carry out day-to-day activities such as lifting objects, running, or typing. The pain often mimics a cardiac attack and sometimes causes breathing difficulties. In all likelihood, the underlying medical condition decides the nature of the symptoms of the disorder.

sharp Pain under left rib cage

What causes sharp Pain under Left Rib Cage?

The rib cage comprises of 12 pairs of bones called costal cartilages that act as a protective shield for some internal organs, including the heart and lungs. Most importantly the thoracic cavity is a foundation for the shoulder girdle and the chest muscles. Numerous causes can be associated with discomfort in the left region of the rib cage. Although many patients panic at the start of pain under the left rib cage, it may not indicate a life-threatening disorder. The common causes of the condition may include:

Spleen rupture

Abdominal trauma or direct injuries can often rupture the spleen and result in heavy blood loss. The condition can give rise to an intolerable pain under the left thoracic cage.

Acid reflux

Chest discomfort is a common symptom of heartburn. Excessive consumption of acid-causing meals or beverages often causes the stomach acids to rise up in the esophagus and produce a burning sensation.


It is a distressing condition in which the costal cartilages of the ribs undergo inflammation following a pulmonary infection or a chest injury. Affected patients experience a gnawing ache on the left side of the chest which may radiate to the abdomen or back.

Rib fracture

Direct trauma can break one or more bones of the rib cage. Since the condition shows severity, left chest pain, particularly during breathing or movement, is inevitable.


Inflammation of the lining of the stomach called gastric mucosa can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain that emanates to the chest and cause gripping pain under the left rib cage.


The left-sided pain can often be a consequence of a collection of free air in the chest outside the lung. The condition is quite detrimental as it causes the lung to collapse in the absence of a traumatic injury.

Stomach ulceration

Corrosion of the abdominal mucosa due to acidic digestive juices secreted by the stomach is a common cause of painful sensations under the left rib cage.

Renal calculi

Severe pain in the abdomen and left region of the chest can be attributed to kidney stones.

Splenic-flexure syndrome

The digestive disorder occurs when gas gets trapped at the splenic flexure in the colon. Sufferers experience severe upper abdominal discomfort that extends up to the lower left rib cage.

Pain under Left Rib Cage Diagnosis

Numbness and pain along the breastbone suggests swollen rib cartilages. Broken ribs as well as pneumothorax are easily detected on an X-ray. Imaging studies and laboratory tests help in the identification of renal stones and splenic rupture. Acid regurgitation can be assessed with endoscopy and esophageal pH monitoring. In order to diagnose gastritis, doctors order a host of tests, including urinalysis, blood examination, ECG, and stomach biopsy. A specialized form of endoscopy called esophagogastroduodenoscopy can be carried out on patients suspected with peptic ulcers.

Pain under Left Rib Cage Treatment

Various therapeutic measures are available for the different causes of the condition. Anti-inflammatory drugs are effective in reducing the cartilage swelling and subsequent ache. Physical therapy and nerve stimulation could numb the pain-causing nerves. A ruptured spleen requires an emergency surgery to prevent a fatal outcome. Gastroesophageal reflux disorder can be primarily treated with proton-pump inhibitors, antacids and H2 receptor blockers. However, a lifestyle modification along with a proper diet is useful for long-term treatment of the condition. The same remedy must be given to patients suffering from stomach ulcers. Severe pulmonary collapse necessitates prolonged mechanical ventilation or insertion of Asherman seal as a part of dressing. Splenic flexure syndrome is normally treated with antispasmodic and anticholinergic agents to reduce muscle spasms in the colon.


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