Reasons Behind Feeling Like Something Under The Right Rib Cage

Feels like something under right rib cage is something that’s not very uncommon but then again, it is something that you should be careful about.

If you are feeling something under the right rib cage, that’s most likely a mild pain or fullness which does not seem to have a swelling or bulging when you touch the area.

The feeling of something under the right rib cage can either be something that has a more serious underlying cause to it, or it might be something that is not even worth worrying about.

Here are 10 important reasons you should know about in order to find an explanation for the feeling.

Feels Like Something Under Right Rib Cage

There are some significant organs under the right side and near the rib cage. These organs play a vital role in displaying a mild pain on even fullness which later might develop a serious medical condition.

feels-like-something-under-right-rib-cage

The most important organ under the right rib cage is the liver with the gallbladder. Some other structures near these are the stomach, spleen, and pancreas which are mainly under the left rib cage.

These organs despite being on the right side can still have some effects and transfer pain on the left side as well.

Reasons of Feeling Pain Under the Right Rib Cage

According to several surveys and reports did from the statements of patients, many have experienced a certain kind of pain under the right rib cage. It is most likely a mild one rather than a severe one which might last a day or more depending on its underlying cause.

If the pain gets frequent and more intense over a period of weeks then it is best to consult your doctor immediately.

Splenic or Hepatic Flexure Syndrome

The hepatic flexure or right colic separates the ascending from the transverse colon and the splenic flexure or left colic separates the transverse and the descending colon.

This happens when gas builds up or becomes trapped in the colon. This gas accumulation causes the trapped air to push against the inner lining of the stomach with the digestive tract as well. Then it causes inflammation which can cause pain and discomfort in the surrounding organs including the right upper quadrant (RUQ).

hepatic-flexure-syndrome

Some causes of Splenic or hepatic flexure syndrome are given below-

  • Gas forming foods
  • Food poisoning
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Infection
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Symptoms are-

  • Pain in the abdomen including under the right rib cage
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Bloating
  • Gastric problems and flatulence
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea

While these symptoms might be mild, they can also get severe and cause intense pain and in that case, you should immediately contact your doctor.

Splenic or hepatic flexure syndrome can be diagnosed by your doctor by closely examining your abdomen with the associated symptoms.

Some of the diagnostic procedures are-

  • Barium enema test to test the lower gastrointestinal tract
  • Abdominal MRI and CT scan
  • X-ray of large intestine

Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder disease includes inflammation, infection, and blockage of the gallbladder. The following are the diseases related to gallbladder-

  • Gallstones
  • Cholecystitis
  • Gangrene
  • Abscess
  • Chronic acalculous disease of gallbladder
  • Tumor of gallbladder and bile duct
  • Sclerosing cholangitis
  • Growth of tissue in gallbladder
  • Congenital defects of gallbladder
gallbladder-disease

Symptoms are-

  • Severe pain in the upper right abdomen close to the rib cage
  • Pain radiates to the back
  • Fever
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Dark urine
  • Lighter stools

Diagnosis can be done by blood tests and ultrasound with other imaging. Treatment can be done by removing the gallbladder by the laparoscopic procedure.

Gallstone

As the gallbladder is a noticeable organ situated in the right upper quadrant under the liver, it has a vital role in causing pain under the right rib cage.

Gallstones are hard stone-like objects which are formed in the gallbladder or biliary duct due to impaired emptying of bile or excess cholesterol or bilirubin present in bile.

Symptoms are-

  • Rapid intensifying pain in the upper right portion under the rib cage
  • Pain in the center of abdomen or under the breastbone
  • Back pain close to the shoulders
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sharp pain that lasts for hours causing discomfort
  • Fever, chills
  • Brown urine
  • Light coloured stool

If the above-mentioned symptoms get severe over time and you cannot even sit comfortably due to the increasing pain then you should immediately consult with your doctor. Complications are-

  • Inflammation of gallbladder can lead to intense pain and fever
  • Blockage of the common bile duct can cause jaundice and pain
  • Blockage of the pancreatic duct can cause impaired digestion
  • History of gallstones can be a risk factor of gallbladder cancer
gallstone

A way of treatment is removing the gallbladder by a surgical procedure which is called a cholecystectomy. Risk of gallstones can be reduced by-

Indigestion

Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia or upset stomach can cause pain or a feeling of fullness under the right rib cage after eating. It happens when the stomach starts to function abnormally.

Symptoms are-

  • Pain in the abdominal region and sometimes under the right rib cage
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, occasionally
  • Belching
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food

If any of the above symptoms get severe then it is important that you consult with your doctor as indigestion can lead to more painful conditions like gastric ulcer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Diagnosis can be done by various imaging and conducting an endoscopy. 

indigestion

Treatment plans are mainly medications which are-

  • Aspirin
  • NSAIDS
  • Steroids
  • Antibiotics

With time the conditions get better but in addition to medications, it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid many other severe gastric conditions.

Prevention of the above-mentioned condition can be done by eating healthy, avoiding alcohol consumption and stress eating, and most importantly having a stress-free life.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a condition in which the acidic contents of the stomach keep coming back up through the esophagus. It is a very painful condition that starts with feeling like pain under the right rib cage.

Some of the symptoms are-

  • Feeling pain in the abdominal area also under the right rib cage
  • Persistent heartburn
  • Inability to swallow food
  • Feeling of choking on food
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are aggravated if you maintain an unhealthy lifestyle and smoke regularly. Although GERD is a very common clinical condition in people above the age of 40, it is also seen in pregnancy and obesity too.

gastroesophageal-reflux-disease

Treatment plans include medications and surgery-

  • Antacids
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • H2 receptor blocker
  • Baclofen which relaxes the esophageal sphincter

Surgeries include Laparoscopic antireflux surgery which prevents acid reflux by creating a new valve mechanism and LINX device implantation which is a minimally invasive surgery.

Prevention can be done by-

  • Avoiding eating too much
  • Eating healthy
  • Quitting smoking
  • Wearing loose clothes to prevent reflux of food due to tightness around the stomach
  • Avoid sleeping immediately after eating for at least 45-60 mins

Liver Abscess

Liver abscess is a condition in which there is a mass filled with pus in the liver. The liver is a very important organ that stores fat, glucose and carries out many essential functions for the digestion of food. The bile in the liver breaks down fat and converts it into energy.

Liver abscess is a common condition which is caused by-

  • Bacterial infection in the bile draining tubes
  • Bacterial infection in the abdomen associated with appendicitis, diverticulitis etc
  • Parasitic infection
  • Trauma to the liver
  • Endoscopy
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease

Symptoms are-

  • Pain in the upper right abdomen under the rib cage
  • Fever, chills
  • Joint pain
  • Cough
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty in breathing

If symptoms like high fever, malaise, lethargy, mental confusion, delusions, and rapid heart rate are prominent then you should contact your doctor immediately as these indicate a more severe condition of liver abscess.

liver-abscess

Diagnosis is done by ultrasound imaging, blood tests, etc.

Treatment include-

  • Oral antibiotics (Aminoglycosides, Clindamycin, Metronidazole)
  • Surgical drainage

Prevention of liver abscess includes avoiding contaminated water, alcohol, limiting traveling to places where amebic infections are common, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. This condition produces a significant amount of pain under the right rib cage. The pancreas releases powerful enzymes in the small intestine to help in the digestion of food. It also releases insulin and glucagon to reduce blood glucose levels.

pancreatitis

There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Both are painful conditions and can cause a lot of discomfort in the body.

Causes and risk factors are-

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Gallstones
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Long time alcohol consumption
  • Family history of pancreatic disorders
  • Cystic fibrosis

In about 15% of cases of acute pancreatitis, the causes are unknown. 30-40% of cases of chronic pancreatitis do not have a specific cause.

Some of the symptoms are-

  • Pain in the upper right of abdomen under the rib cage which radiates to the back
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tender belly with swelling
  • High heart rate
  • Diarrhoea

These symptoms can get worse with time leading to many complications such as pancreatic cancer, kidney failure, malnutrition, and others. It is crucial to contact your physician as soon as you face these symptoms.

Diagnosis of pancreatitis can be done by-

  • Examining the belly region for tenderness
  • Checking for low blood pressure
  • Checking for low fever
  • Checking for rapid pulse
  • X-ray, CT scan and MRI to check if the pancreas is calcified

Treatment can be done by taking medications like antibiotics and Aspirin, draining the stomach by a tube through the nose, and a low-fat diet. If the condition gets more severe then you might need to go through gallbladder surgery in case of gallstones and pancreas surgery to take out the infected tissue from the pancreas.

Prevention is possible by avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking as these are highly responsible for pancreatic attacks.

Kidney Infection

Kidney infections mainly are caused by bacteria that can come from the urinary tract into the kidney. This condition can be a very painful one that can radiate from the lower abdomen to the back and under the right rib cage.

kidney-infection

People who are at high risk of having a kidney infection are the ones who-

  • Have a bladder infection
  • Are women since they have a shorter urethra and are more prone to infection than men
  • Have diabetes
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a weak immune system
  • Use a catheter for draining urine

Symptoms are-

  • Fever with chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the back, on sides or groin
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Presence of pus or blood in urine
  • Foul smelling urine

Treatment can be done by starting with antibiotics and noticing if the symptoms are getting worse with time in order to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Prevention of kidney infection is possible by-

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Urinating as soon as you feel the need
  • Maintaining proper precaution in case of women while urinating like wiping from front to back after urination
  • Avoid using genital wash and douches in the genital area

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are also known as Pyelonephritis is a common problem worldwide and more than a million patients visit hospitals with the complaint of pain in the back which is one of the symptoms of kidney stones.

kidney-stones

Kidney stones are hard objects which are formed in the kidney from the deposition of chemicals from urine.

Some of the causes are-

  • Drinking too little water
  • Not urinating when it is needed
  • Eating too much salt in diet

Symptoms are-

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Vague pain around the abdomen under the right rib cage that does not go away
  • Fever with chills
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Blood in urine
  • Bad smelling urine

It is very important to notice the symptoms so that you can consult your doctor regarding the condition.

Diagnosis of kidney stones can be done by X-ray of KUB (kidney-ureter-bladder region), high-resolution CT scan, and medical examination.

Treatment plans are-

  • Letting the stones pass through urine by drinking lots of water
  • Shock-wave lithotripsy
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy in case of larger complicated stones

Prevention can be done by-

  • Drinking enough water everyday
  • Eating less salty diet
  • Urinating when necessary
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Avoid overeating

Side Stitch

A side stitch is referred to as a pain that is felt around the abdomen during physical exercise. It is very common in our daily life like when you take a sudden walk or try to work out without warming up first. Feeling something like pain under the right rib cage is a very common thing to come across which is basically a side stitch.

side stitch

Side stitch is not a very painful condition but then again, it can cause some discomfort.

Some of the causes of side stitch are-

  • Common in younger individuals
  • After effect of intense exercise
  • Poor fitness
  • Not warming up before exercise
  • Exercising in cold weather
  • Eating before exercise
  • Incorrect posture

 Symptoms are- 

  • Sudden excruciating pain around the abdomen
  • Pain that stays
  • Unable to move the affected area

Treatment can be done by-

  • Deep breathing
  • Slowly stretching the affected area
  • Bending forward
  • Massaging the affected area

Prevention of side stitch is very much possible by following some simple ways-

  • Drinking small amount of water or any kind of fluid throughout the exercise
  • Avoid eating at least 2 hours before exercise
  • Warming up before exercise
  • Avoid eating sugar before exercise
  • Learning correct posture

Conclusion

As you have understood by now, pain is the most probable thing you will feel under the right rib cage. But there are still a few conditions in which you will feel fullness there. Feeling pain under the right rib cage can raise a lot of questions about your health condition.

Most of the conditions mentioned above are medical conditions that have pain as a primary symptom. But as we all know, there is always a way to prevent these conditions from occurring.

Leading a very healthy lifestyle is the key to happiness, both physically and mentally. If you follow healthy ways of living then you can surely find the path to achieving good health.

If you are facing any symptoms of the clinical conditions that were mentioned before, then you should consult your doctor or physician in order to get relief from the painful feeling.

FAQs

What organ is under your right rib cage?

The part under the right rib cage is called the right upper quadrant (RUQ). This region has some important organs like the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney.

What does pain under the right rib cage indicate?

A sudden sharp pain under the right rib cage can indicate gallstones in the gallbladder. Another kind of pain can be felt due to pancreatitis which can be either acute or chronic.

Why do you have a ball under your rib cage?

It is most likely a lump that is made up of fatty tissues which feel like a ball under the rib cage. The lump is usually painless and not worth worrying about.

Why does it feel like something is moving under the ribs?

This is due to liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) which can feel like a firm, solid mass.

Can gas cause pain on the right side under the rib cage?

It is common to feel the pain caused by gas under the right rib cage. Hepatic or splenic flexure can cause pain which is present in the large intestine.

Anika Zuberi

I’m Anika Nawar Zuberi, a medical student and a fitness freak. Apart from studying medical science, I’m passionate about writing and learning new things side by side. I absolutely love maintaining a healthy lifestyle and like to inspire people to have a healthy life as well. Writing gives me immense joy and I really hope my readers find the same joy and health tips too to have a more easier blooming life. Anika Nawar Zuberi 4th year MBBS Armed Forces Medical College

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