Most of the time, pain in any part of the body is ignored hoping that it will get cured on its own, after running its own course. In case of severe injury or acute sharp pain, people immediately consult a doctor. Light headache or leg pain, abdominal pain, chest pain is experienced by everyone at some point of time in the life. It is difficult to find out the exact cause of abdominal pain because the abdominal cavity holds several organs. A persistent pain, or constant dull pain should never be neglected.
Common Causes of Pain under the Right Rib Cage
Liver, gallbladder, right kidney, right part of large intestine, appendix, right ovary and right fallopian tube (in females) are some of the main organs that lie in the right side of the abdominal cavity.
Ectopic Pregnancy: Women may experience constant pain under right rib cage due to ovarian cyst or ectopic pregnancy (embryo in fallopian tube). The pain can be experienced in the lower right quadrant and it can spread towards upper quadrant. The type and severity of the pain may vary from woman to woman.
Pancreatitis: Dull pain on right side under rib cage can be a symptom of pancreatitis (infection, inflammation of the pancreas) though usually, sharp acute pain is experienced during such situation. The pain spreads towards the sides and back and is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, yellowish skin, rapid heart rate, vomiting and nausea. Heavy meals, consumption of alcohol can lead to sharp pain.
Damaged Liver: This is one of the most common causes of constant pain under right breast. Infection in liver, enlargement of liver due to diseases like fatty liver, hepatitis, congestive heart failure, development of an abscess or cancer (even lymphoma or chronic myeloid leukemia), biliary cirrhosis, or cirrhosis of the liver can result in pain. Blood clots can block the blood vessels present in the liver. This can also be the cause of pain. If you are having pain in the area where liver is situated, you should immediately consult your doctor. Early detection of liver diseases helps prevent serious health complications.
Costochondritis: Inflammation of the muscles of the rib cage, called costochondritis can lead to pain under the rib cage. Pain in the area where the breastbone is connected to the rib cage is experienced by the person suffering from this disorder. Excessive coughing, sometimes exerts undue stress on the rib bones. Some viral infections, especially respiratory infections can cause dull pain under right/left rib cage. Inflammation of the cartilage between the breast bone and the ribs is a common cause of pain under rib cage. In case of infectious mononucleosis, pain in the upper right quadrant is experienced. It is usually accompanied by fever, sore throat, and extreme fatigue.
Trauma: Ribs protect the important parts like heart and lungs, but they being delicate bony structures, are more likely to undergo fractures and injuries. Even a hair crack in a rib or chest bone can give rise to constant pain in and around the chest.
Lung Disorder: Chest pain due to infected lungs (pneumonia) or due to inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleurisy) can spread to the abdominal area under the rib cage. Excessive coughing and breathing difficulty can lead to constant pain and discomfort.
Kidney Stones: Kidney stones usually lead to sharp acute pain in the upper abdomen. But depending upon the situation, one might experience dull pain in the flanks which might spread towards back and groin. Various kidney problems can cause pain and discomfort.
Hiatal Hernia: Bulging of the stomach exerts pressure on the diaphragm. This can lead to a painful condition called 'hiatal hernia'. The condition needs immediate medical attention.
Gallstones: Gallbladder is situated in the upper right abdomen under the liver. Gallstones, stones in the gallbladder when move into its ducts can cause severe or dull pain under the rib cage. The stones can be dissolved with medicines or removed surgically. The person may exhibit other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, etc. Pain due to gallbladder diseases can spread towards right shoulder too. Blocked bile flow can cause inflammation of the gallbladder which can eventually lead to severe pain in the upper right abdomen. Development of cancer in the gallbladder can also lead to pain.
Colon Pain: Intestinal obstruction, constipation, spasms, are some of the causes of persistent abdominal pain. Inflammation or dysfunction of the colon due to indigestion, gas accumulation, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, colon cancer, etc. can lead to pain in the right abdomen.
Left/Lower Side Pain: Severe pain in left side of the abdomen or in the lower abdomen can spread towards upper right side of the abdominal cavity. Various problems like stomach pain, presence of roundworms, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, allergies, gastritis, appendicitis, and endometriosis can lead to pain in right side of the abdomen. Various cancers like liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer can create pain in the upper abdomen. Alcohol and/or drug abuse, excessive intake of dietary supplements and/or medicines, excessive smoking can also be the cause of such pain.
Other Causes: Infections like herpes zoster, ulcerative colitis, muscle cramps, a surgery (for example, breast mastectomy), etc. can cause pain under the rib cage. Excessive running, cycling or jogging can lead to abdominal and/or chest pain. Adrenal gland problems, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA, wherein the body has to burn fatty acids to generate energy. It cannot use sugar as the fuel due to scarcity of insulin. The process results in the production of acidic ketone bodies which eventually leads to serious health complications.) can also cause pain in the upper abdomen.
This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. There is no need to panic after reading the causes of dull pain under right rib cage. Every time, chest pain or pain in the abdomen does not indicate a serious condition. But if the pain does not subside within 2-4 days, and if you notice a change in the bowel movement, urine appearance, appetite and weight, then you should consult your physician.