Pain under left rib cage is quite discomforting which may occur as a result of severe injury, strain from daily activities or certain underlying health conditions. People suffering from pain under the left rib cage may find it hard to accomplish their day to day tasks, especially when severe pain is felt. It can bring a great deal of discomfort and may take sometime to completely heal.
The treatment methods for pain under left rib cage largely dependon what caused the pain. Pain due to minor injuries can be easily treated; but severe pain may require medical attention to figure out the underlying cause and start the appropriate treatment immediately.
What to do when pain under the left rib cage is felt ?
The best step to take when pain under left rib cage is felt to have the rib cage x-rayed. This is done to rule out the possibility of a fractured rib and schedule immediate surgery if needed. Further diagnostic tests may be done to determine the underlying cause of chronic pain under the left rib cage and to check for the chances of cancer, tumor or nerve damage. Aside from x-ray, CT scans or MRI may likewise be requested by the physician.
Pain under left rib cage causes
Pain below the left rib cage may occur due to several different reasons, and these are:
- Cracked or fractured rib cage
A cracked or fractured rib as a result of a recent injury can result to pain under left rib cage. The elastic tissues in between the bones may become inflamed which results to friction involving two bones during movement. This normally leaves a visible sign of bruising.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
This is another culprit of left side pain under the rib cage which occurs as a result of insufficient water and fiber in the diet, arbitrary eating and overeating. These factors can cause digestion and gastric problems because they obstruct the production of digestive enzymes which aid in the breaking down of food to simple substances. This results in gas formation which is caught up in the left side of the intestine.
- Cartilage inflammation
An inflamed cartilage in between the breastbone and rib can cause pain under left rib cage. The pain might be short but the intensity is relatively high and may spread to the back and arm, giving a great deal of discomfort.
Costochondritis refers to the condition brought about by inflamed rib cage muscles due to respiratory infections or excessive coughing caused by virus. The pain is confined in the area linking the breastbone and ribs which is quite common among adolescents and children.
This medical condition is a result of bacterial infection which leads to the inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can also occur due to excessive alcohol consumption and certain medications.
Angina could also result in pain under left rib cage due to the reduced flow of blood to the heart. The patient will feel a heavy and tight pain which is one symptom of heart disease.
This condition is characterized by inflamed lungs due to respiratory infection or as a secondary infection following a common cold.
- Heart attack
Severe pain in the left rib cage could be a sign of an impending heart attack which is caused by the blockage of blood flow to the heart due to blood clots. The patient will be in great pain, akin to being crushed, that often spreads down to the arm.
Pain under left rib cage could also be indicative of cancer, wherein the pain resembles indigestion or being full. The pain also comes with other symptoms like abrupt weight loss, fatigue and difficulty in swallowing.
Other conditions that can cause pain under the left rib cage include kidney stones, diverticulitis, pancreatitis and stomach ulcers. Pain under the left rib cage is also found among women who are in their final stages of pregnancy which can cause trauma and difficulty in sleeping.
What can be done to treat the pain under left rib cage?
The pain that is felt under the left rib cage can be alleviated when the underlying cause is treated. Generally, any pain under the left rib cage must be treated immediately not only to provide relief to the patient but also to prevent the underlying medical condition from aggravating and resulting to serious medical complications. Pain under left rib cage treatment may involve taking prescription anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medications to alleviate the associated symptoms, or steroid injections, tricyclic antidepressants or local anesthetics for severe cases. Above all, the most effective treatment for pain under the left rib cage is complete rest and self-care and avoiding strenuous activities and exercises that will strain the chest muscles and delay complete healing.
Pain under left rib cage may or may not point to a serious medical condition, but it should not be taken lightly because it may lead to a graver health condition. The treatment depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the pain the individual is experiencing.