Pain on Left Side Under Rib Cage

People may suffer from pain on left side under rib cage for a variety of reasons. It may occur due to everyday common causes, or it may occur as a symptom of some severe underlying medical condition. Individuals who experience pain on left side under rib cage for a prolonged period should consult a doctor for diagnosis and relevant treatment.

The doctor will usually recommend a battery of tests before arriving at a conclusive diagnosis. He/she will then proceed to treat the underlying condition as per standard treatment procedures.

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Causes for pain on left side under rib cage

The cause of pain on left side under rib cage can only be ascertained after careful analysis, which involves examination of even minor details like the precise location of the pain, and the intensity of pain, etc.

A few common causes of pain on left side under rib cage are listed below:

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  • Injuries or trauma to the rib cage: Any kind of trauma to the ribs which results in fracture of one or more bones of the rib cage can cause severe pain on left side under rib cage. It is difficult for patients to move their body. In fact, sometimes, the affected person may not be able to move at all. Other additional symptoms include bruises or injury marks on the chest, signifying that a direct forceful blow caused the fractures.
  • Spleen disorders:The spleen is located on the left side of the abdominal cavity, just below the ribs and just above the stomach. It stores red blood cells. Spleen problems such as spleen enlargement or rupture can cause pain on left side under rib cage, which may later radiate to the shoulders. People suffering from leukemia, splenomegaly, or asplenia may also suffer from such pain.
  • Kidney stones: Kidney stones affects millions of people all over the world. The presence of kidney stones inside the organ will not only cause severe pain of the kidneys, but if the stone occurs in the left kidney then patients may also suffer from pain on left side under rib cage. Kidney stone associated pain typically commences at the back end of the abdomen and then migrates towards the anterior.
  • Diverticulitis: Underlying abnormalities in the intestinal tract can result in the formation of sacs called “diverticulosis” on the tract wall. Diverticulitis occurs when such sacs experience inflammation. Elderly people are most prone to developing diverticulitis; when they suffer from intense pain on left side under rib cage as well as tenderness, then it is an indication of the underlying presence of diverticulitis.
  • Obstruction in the bowels: Any kind of obstruction in the normal gastrointestinal processes can result in discomfort and uneasiness. When blockages occur on the left section of the intestines, then patients may also experience pain on left side under rib cage. Additional symptoms elicited by affected people include abnormal bowel movements, abnormal stool, constipation, stomach inflammation, and vomiting.
  • Pancreatitis:This condition is characterized by inflammation of the pancreas. Patients may suffer from pain in the upper part of the abdomen which then moves to the left side under rib cage and later slowly spreads to the back. The pain may worsen when eating or drinking. Additional symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and fever. The occurrence of all these symptoms is a sure-shot sign of pancreatitis.
  • Costochondritis:Swelling, inflammation, or trauma of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the sternum is referred to as costochondritis. It can occur due to injury or viral infection of the cartilage. Costochondritis is one of the most prevalent causes of sharp pain on left side under rib cage. Such pain can aggravate with coughing and/or deep breathing. The condition is quite common and thousands of persons are affected by it every year.
  • Pneumothorax: It is a condition characterized by trapping of air between the ribs and lungs. It usually occurs due to lung malfunction or lung failure. Patients may experience intense pain on left side under rib cage. Subsequent damage to the lung membranes can cause the organ to collapse.
  • Gas:Gas can also cause pain on left side under rib cage, especially if it affects the left section of the bowels. Additional symptoms include discomfort and uneasiness. It is however a harmless condition and can be easily cured.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease:The condition is caused due to infection of the uterus or the fallopian tubes and is characterized by constant dull pain in the pelvic area. The pain may spread to the abdomen and then to just under the rib cage, eventually causing fever. Affected women need to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Other causes: Ectopic pregnancy, acid reflux, intestinal infections, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and pericarditis are other conditions which commonly cause pain on left side under rib cage.


Treatment of pain on left side under rib cage is focused on diagnosing the underlying cause, managing the associated symptoms, and curing the pre-existing disease. For example,

  • Kidney stones can be treated with medications. Surgery is the final treatment option.
  • Pain can be alleviated with pain killers.
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