Liver is the largest internal organ of the human body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen and just below the diaphragm and ribs. The diaphragm separates it from the chest and the abdomen. This organ performs many important functions such as detoxification of the body. The other functions include conversion of stored glucose into glycogen, hormone secretion, regulation of blood sugar levels, elimination of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, and removal of toxins and carcinogens from the body. This hard work takes a toll on the liver, which leads to various liver diseases.
Location of Hepatalgia
The reason liver pain is difficult to locate is because of the area where it is located. As mentioned earlier, the liver is located in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen, just below the rib cage. So, when one experiences hepatalgia, it is often confused as kidney pain, abdominal pain, or back pain.
The liver's pain receptors lie on the capsule that covers a portion of the organ. Pain in the liver occurs when pressure is exerted on this capsule. This pain is usually experienced on the right side of the abdomen in the upper-right quadrant, just beneath the ribs. It is mostly associated with inflammation or enlargement of the liver, or any other injury that puts pressure on the capsule.
The exact location of liver pain can differ in individuals as it may occur in combination with pain in other organs. It is often accompanied by back or abdominal pain. Pain in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen may also occur due to some other abdominal disorders. Therefore, it is necessary to always seek medical help for diagnosing the actual cause of the pain.
There are many health problems that can lead to liver pain. One of the causes is excessive consumption of alcohol that lead to liver cirrhosis. The discomfort due to cirrhosis is felt on the right side of the abdomen.
Other causes of hepatalgia include hepatitis, diabetes, obesity, liver infection due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites, etc. Drugs, alcohol, overdose of acetaminophen, and other toxins, gallstones and pancreatitis, either chronic or acute, causes liver pain. Sometimes, constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can also lead to pain in the liver.
Fatty liver disease, where excess fat is deposited on the liver is also one of the causative factors. The triglycerides get accumulated in the liver, causing the liver to swell and become inflamed. This condition is called steatohepatitis. When there is fat accumulation in the absence of inflammation or swelling, it is called steatosis. The fat deposits make the liver heavy, causing it to stretch. This leads to a dull pain in the organ that may aggravate if not treated soon. Diseases like Inflammatory Bowels Disease (IBD), Wolfman disease, glycogen storage disease, Weber Christian disease, HIV, drugs like Methotrexate, alcoholic fatty liver can also lead to fatty liver pain.
Treatment of hepatalgia depends on the underlying cause. Early diagnosis will help the doctor devise an appropriate treatment plan. Sometimes, medications may help treat certain liver diseases, while others may require surgery to be performed. In severe cases, liver transplants may be performed to save the patient as a last minute attempt.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.