The heart beats and sustains our life-force under the protection of the left rib cage. Any pain in this area grabs our immediate attention due to the fatal consequences of a heart attack, but there are so many reasons that may cause pain under left rib cage. It can be due to simple reasons like trapped gas in the colon or some serious medical conditions like injuries and disorders. In fact, many people across the world who are otherwise fit and fine experience pain under their left rib cage. In this article, we are going to explore the reasons of pain under the left rib cage and their possible line of treatment.
The thoracic cage or rib cage is a very delicate and important part of the human skeletal system. The rib cage includes sternum, 12 thoracic vertebrae, costal cartilages and 24 ribs. As a part of human respiratory system, this bony as well as cartilaginous structure forms the thoracic cavity that house the lungs. Rib cage protects the most delicate parts of our body, and any pain under the left rib cage can be a sign of serious injury, disorder or underlying medical conditions that should never be ignored.
Pain Under the Left Rib Cage Causes:
► Spleen Irritation: The complications from a tear or rupture of the spleen cause pain under the left rib cage. In such cases, the pain extends to the extreme ends of the shoulder.
► Constipation and Indigestion: Constipation occurs when normal bowel movements don’t take place due to any reasons. The stools get hardened, and people feel irritation when they have to use pressure or special efforts to pass the stool. Constipation can cause pain in the stomach, particularly under the rib cage. Pain under the rib cage also occurs when people suffer from indigestion. Pain from indigestion is more likely to start suddenly and normally preceded by persistent burping.
► Injured/cracked or Fractured Rib: A fractured rib cage due to any accident or severe impact is the most direct and obvious reason of pain under the left rib cage. The cracked or fractured ribs cause unbearable pain that makes it impossible to breathe normally. Such injuries require immediate medical care. If you are having a very sharp pain that increases with every deep breath, promptly consult your physician to determine the condition of your ribs by using x-ray or other examination techniques.
► Bowel Obstruction: Sometimes, intestines get entangled and cause partial or even total blockage of bowel movement. People suffering from bowel obstruction feel severe pain and discomfort under the lower rib cage area. Other symptoms of bowel obstruction include vomiting, constipation and irregular bowels.
► Kidney Stones: The pain from kidney stones can spread under the rib cages as they originate from the back and spread towards the front areas. Stones can develop in any kidneys. Pain under the left rib cage can be a symptom of stone in the left kidney.
► Costochondritis: The swelling and inflammation of the cartilages that connect the ribs to the breastbone can cause excruciating pain under the left rib cage. Costochondritis is caused by a viral infection. With breathing difficulties, the symptoms of this infection are quite similar to that of a heart attack. Therefore, appropriate medical examination is required for treating this condition.
► Gas in the Colon: Splenic flexure syndrome or gas in the colon can also cause pain under the left rib cage. When gas is trapped within the colon, people feel pain and discomfort.
► Diverticulitis: The pain in the lower rib cage can be a symptom of diverticulitis. The bulging sacs or pouches in the inner linings of the intestine, as typically seen in diverticulitis, cause persistent infection (diverticulosis) and people experience constipation, bloating and pain under the lower rib cage. Older people with more than 60 years of age are more likely to suffer from diverticulitis.
► Irritable Bowel Syndrome: when bowel movements are not normal due to any reasons, it’s called irritable bowel syndrome. Constipation and diarrhea present classical cases of irritable bowel. Normal bowel movement is disrupted when the digestive organs don’t secrete sufficient digestive enzymes for breaking the food into simple substances. There can be many causes of irritable bowel syndrome, but insufficient water intake, lack of fiber in the diet and overeating are some of the common causes of irritable bowel. Besides pain in the lower rib cage, bloating and stomach cramps are other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
► Gastritis: The disrupted digestive system and persistent vomiting from gastritis can induce severe pain under the lower rib cage. Gastritis occurs when bacterial or other infections cause inflammation and swelling in the protective lining of the stomach. People suffering from gastritis face frequent vomiting and other symptoms of a malfunctioning digestive system.
► Pneumothorax: When any tear or rupture occurs in the membranes of the lung, people feel a very sharp pain under the rib cage. The cavity between the lungs and the rib cage is filled with leaked air, aggravating the complications of ruptured lung.
► Stomach Ulcers: Stomach ulcers also cause pain in the left rib cage. If the condition is not severe, associated discomfort may quickly disappear. On the other hand, severe cases of stomach ulcers produce persistent pain under the rib cage.
► Heartburn or Acid Reflux: This is one of the common causes of pain under the left rib cage. Digestive organs naturally secrete acids and enzymes to promote digestion, but some foods, beverages and unhealthy lifestyles increase this acidity within the stomach. Acid reflexes or heartburns cause bloated feeling, and people experience sharp pain around the chest areas.
The physicians prescribe medications like Dexlansoprazole, Esomeprazole or Lansoprazole to treat heartburn. However, lifestyle changes with an appropriate diet plan are considered to be the best solution for preventing excessive acidity in the stomach. You have to avoid foods that cause acidity.
So, the reasons of pain under the left rib cage can be related to trapped gas in the colon, malfunctioning of the digestive system, inflammation of cartilages, injury and other serious medical conditions. The treatment of such pain depends according to the underlying cause. Prompt action is extremely important for timely diagnosis and successful treatment before things get complicated. If you experience any symptom described in this article, immediately consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of pain under the left rib cage.