“Pain on the right side” is a common symptom experienced by many people. The right side of the human body contains many vital organs, including lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, large intestine, etc. Any of the organs can feel pain due to different kinds of reasons.
It is vital to have your body checked by a physician to locate which specific organ needs to be attended to and treated. Through identifying the affected organ, your doctor will also find out the root condition. This article will discuss 18 common causes of right side pain and the possible procedures to treat the cause.
However, before starting the article, you need to know which vital organs are on the right side of the body.
Organs on the Right Side of the Body:
1. Right quadrant
The right quadrant of the body includes several organs such as the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. Pain in the right upper quadrant may be due to the formation of an ulcer or an indication of hepatitis.
2. Right Lower Quadrant
Next comes the quadrant at the lower side of the right portion. This area contains several organs, including the appendix, colon, and ovary. In women, this portion also includes the fallopian tube.
Another significant portion of the human organ, located at both the right and left sides, is the lungs. With the duty of transferring oxygen in and pushing the carbon dioxide out, this is one of the essential organs of the human body. While some portion of it is located on the right side of the body, the rest is left.
4. Right Kidney
Like the lungs, kidneys are located both on the left and the right side of the human body. The primary function of this organ is to push out all the toxins of the human body through urine.
5. Part of Liver
On the right side of the human body, a large meaty organ called the liver has the primary function of filtering all the blood from the digestive tract. Before this blood moves to the rest of the body, it is purified in the liver.
The pancreas is located on the right side of the abdomen of a human body. The function of the pancreas is to convert all the food eaten by the human into the fuel that would charge the human body. Thus, it aids in the digestion of the food and provides the required level of sugar to the body.
7. Large intestine
Another vital organ on the right side of the body is the large intestine. Also known as the large bowel, it absorbs water and makes the waste material stored in the form of feces. Thus, it provides the body with the ability to move poisonous material out of the body.
Other Important Organs in the Right Side:
- Gall bladder
- Head of a pancreas
- Ascending Colon
- Right ovary and Fallopian tube
- Right ureter
18 Common Causes of Pain in Right Side with Treatment
The appendix locates on the lower right side of your abdomen. This is a small tube of tissue that extends from your large intestine.
Appendicitis refers to an inflammation of the appendix. This happens when the appendix gets blocked by poop or a foreign body. Pain caused by appendicitis often begins in the middle right side of the abdomen and goes down to the lower right part.
Other symptoms of this illness include a tender and swollen lower right abdomen, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, and changes in bowel movement habits.
Appendicitis is a life-threatening condition that requires surgery as soon as possible. When diagnosed with such a condition, your doctor may require you to follow a treatment plan at home or let you stay in the hospital for further observation.
If your case is severe, you may be asked to undergo appendectomy, a surgery done to remove the appendix. This is necessary to prevent complications, as your appendix might burst and affect the other organs surrounding it.
If you’re diagnosed with appendicitis or experiencing its symptoms, refrain from taking any medications that your doctor does not prescribe. These medications might cause appendix rupture.
2. Kidney Issues
Kidneys filter the blood and help remove waste from the body. If not taken care of, they may be prone to health problems. These include kidney infections, kidney stones, kidney cancer, and urinary tract infection (UTI).
If your right kidney is affected by these problems, then you’ll most probably feel pain on the right side of your abdomen. The pain often radiates to the lower back.
Kidney stones are a buildup of minerals as well as salts. As these stones get bigger, there is a great possibility of the patient feeling pain while peeing and urinating.
When these stones pass through the tube that connects the bladder and kidney, the patients feel great discomfort. While having this problem, the patient may feel great pain during urination, while the urine color may also turn brown or red. Along with this, if the substance of urine turns cloudy, it may also be a symptom of kidney stones.
Treatments for kidney problems are often done to control symptoms, reduce the risk of complications, and decelerate the progress of the disease. If the damage is already critical, end-stage kidney disease treatment is necessary.
It includes dialysis and kidney transplant. To prevent having or worsening kidney problems, follow a low-sodium, low-fat diet. Always drink enough water, monitor your weight, and keep track of your blood pressure and sugar.
3. Liver Problems
Like the kidneys, the liver is prone to infection and damage as it deals with and gets rid of toxic substances in our body. Diseases related to the liver include hepatitis, cancer, and adenoma.
If untreated, the conditions that damage your liver might cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), which leads to liver failure. Liver failure is a life-threatening health issue. Therefore, it is vital to seek early treatment, more so uphold preventive measures.
Treatment depends on the factor or condition affecting your liver. Antiviral drugs are prescribed to treat hepatitis, while steroids are used to reduce inflammation.
For advanced cases of cirrhosis, a liver transplant will be necessary. Lifestyle modifications, such as cutting back on alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating clean and safe food can help prevent liver problems. Hepatitis A and B vaccines can also help decrease the risk of contracting hepatitis.
4. Excessive Intestinal Gas
Intestinal gas refers to the air found in your digestive tract. Excessive intestinal gas can be caused by ingesting too much amount of air, overeating, and smoking.
It’s normal for a person to release gas up to 20 times a day through burping or farting. If gas builds up inside due to more undigested food, it can cause right side abdominal pain and bloat. Excessive gas can also be an indication of other more serious digestive problems like diabetes and lactose intolerance.
Mild cases of intestinal gas can be treated through natural remedies and changes in lifestyle or eating habits. Reducing your intake of dairy products, fried and fatty foods, and carbonated beverages will be helpful.
Over-the-counter medications can also be taken to relieve symptoms. However, if another health issue causes intestinal gas, you’d also have to treat the underlying condition.
A hernia is a tear in the muscle or tissue that causes the organ to bulge out. Hernias on the insides of your right abdomen cause swelling beneath your abdominal skin, accompanied by pain around the lump.
If you notice a bulge in your abdomen and experience other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, and chronic abdominal pain, seek emergency care. Early medical attention and changes in lifestyle will minimize symptoms. But the only effective way to treat a hernia is through surgery.
The gallbladder is a small organ beneath your liver, located on the right side of your abdomen. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder. This can block the bile flow and cause sudden pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen.
Gallstone attacks are often mistaken for heart attacks. Because the pain is located on the right side of the body, you can identify the gallstone from other symptoms. This pain may also appear in your back between your shoulder blades. You may also suffer from nausea or vomiting. The pain usually lasts several minutes to a few hours.
A darkened urine, clay-colored stool, jaundice, chills, and fever are some of the additional symptoms of gallstones. The presence of stones in the bile ducts is known as choledocholithiasis, which can lead to complications.
To treat this disease, your doctor might recommend surgery that removes the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). Medications taken by mouth can also help dissolve the gallstones.
However, gallstones often recur. That’s why cholecystectomy is more often advised. You don’t need your gallbladder to live. Without the gallbladder, the bile will flow from your liver directly to your small intestine. It won’t be stored in the gallbladder anymore. Gallbladder removal does not affect food digestion, but it can cause occasional diarrhea.
Dyspepsia or indigestion is the recurrent discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen that typically develops after eating or drinking. It is a sign telling you that your body is having trouble digesting food. Additional symptoms include bloating, heartburn, and frequent farting and burping.
Most of the time, indigestion is caused by gastrointestinal reflux disease or acid reflux. You can treat mild indigestion through over-the-counter drugs that provide relief.
If symptoms of indigestion continue to show, better consult your doctor to identify the other digestive issues causing it. Treatment depends on which condition is the root cause of indigestion.
Another gastrointestinal issue that causes right side pain is gastritis. It is characterized by an inflammation of the stomach lining that can occur suddenly or gradually.
Gastritis has symptoms similar to dyspepsia. Antibiotics can treat gastritis caused by bacterial infection. Antacids can also be prescribed to minimize stomach acid exposure and inflammation. If not treated, it can lead to more serious conditions like anemia, peritonitis, sepsis, or stomach cancer.
9. Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop in the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine lining. These ulcers are most commonly caused by the bacteria H. pylori. Lifestyle causes of peptic ulcers include excessive intake of alcohol, frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs, and smoking.
Aside from right abdominal pain, this condition also causes nausea, dark and bloody stool, indigestion, and changes in appetite and weight. If bacteria is the confirmed cause of the ulcers, you will be given a combination of medication. This will include antibiotics to fight the infection and proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid.
An inflamed pancreas will also make you feel pain in your upper right abdomen, which might gradually worsen as time goes by. Additional symptoms of acute pancreatitis include fever, increased heart rate, nausea, and vomiting.
When diagnosed with pancreatitis, you’ll probably be advised to stay in the hospital and take antibiotics, intravenous fluids through a needle, a low-fat diet, and pain relievers. For severe cases, gallbladder surgery might be needed if gallstones are the ones causing pancreatitis. A pancreas surgery might also be required to rid out fluid and damaged tissues.
11. Pulmonary Embolism
Right side pain is not only caused by digestive problems or abnormalities in the organs inside the abdomen. It can also be due to a blood clot in the lungs, a condition medically known as pulmonary embolism.
A blood clot in the right lung may cause sharp, severe pain in the upper right abdomen. If you experience this symptom, as well as shortness of breath and coughing with blood-tinged sputum, have your lungs checked immediately.
Your doctor may prescribe you anticoagulants or blood thinners to prevent new blood clots from developing. Thrombolytics or clot dissolvers catalyze the breakdown of the clots. More intricate clots that block blood flow from the lungs to the heart may be removed through surgery.
12. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms of IBS usually remain for a long time.
Besides abdominal pain, you may also experience altered bowel movement habits, bloating, and increased gas excretion. Recovery from IBS mainly depends on lifestyle and diet adjustments.
When experiencing IBS, you are encouraged to eat high-fiber foods and avoid high-gas ones. Treatment for this syndrome focuses on relieving the symptoms.
13. Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) defined by continuous inflammation of the large intestine. Cramps caused by this disease usually occur in the lower right part of the abdomen.
Medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and pain relievers. To eliminate ulcerative colitis, a surgery that involves removing your colon and rectum is needed.
An ileoanal anastomosis surgery most commonly accompanies this procedure. The surgeon makes a pouch that connects the end of your small intestine to your anus. With this, you don’t need to wear a bag to collect the stool.
14. Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is also a type of inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis. This, on the other hand, is an inflammation most commonly found in the small intestine and colon. It causes similar additional symptoms as other digestive tract issues.
Anti-inflammatory medicines, immunomodulators, antibiotics, and surgery are the options for treatment.
15. Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can be found on or inside a woman’s ovary. Cysts don’t usually cause pain and may disappear even without medical treatment.
However, a large ovarian cyst that is ruptured can lead to symptoms including a dull or sharp pain in the lower right abdomen, bloating, and fever. Your doctor might suggest surgery, depending on the size of the cyst and the severity of your symptoms.
You may undergo removal of the ovary called ovarian cystectomy. If the cyst is cancerous, you will be referred to a gynecologic oncologist. The oncologist might advise you to have a total hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation.
One of the most common reasons people may develop excruciating pain on the right side of the body is indigestion. Also known as dyspepsia, this problem occurs when a person eats or drinks something that the body cannot digest properly.
This pain appears at the lower backside of the abdomen, which gradually gets sharper. The indigestion symptoms include bloating the belly, sudden sickness, continuous burping, and heartburn.
In case this is a mild condition, it will go away quickly. With the help of regular, over-the-counter medication, this issue can be solved. However, if it elongates for around three days, a doctor’s visit would be advisable.
17. Menstrual cramps
Now this one is surely for women only. At times, intense pain at the body’s right side may be due to a woman’s period. Menstrual cramps, at times, cause great pain on the right side of the abdomen.
Anyone facing this should avoid taking any pain killer that may cause great problems to the regular working of the human hormones. Thus, it should be tried to mellow down by using traditional techniques such as massaging the abdomen with warm oil or placing a hot water bag on it.
18. Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy is when fertilization of the egg grows outside of the uterus, most likely in a fallopian tube. As the embryo begins to grow, it can cause the tube to burst. This can cause internal bleeding and severe pain on the right side. The pain may spread to the shoulder and back.
Ectopic Pregnancy can be a life-threatening emergency that may need immediate surgery immediately if you have missed a period for over 10 weeks and experiencing other symptoms such as vaginal discharge and headedness. You should see your doctor immediately.
Symptoms of Pain in Right Side
Right side pain can be felt in different forms. These include:
- sharp pain in the upper right of the abdomen
- dull and chronic pain in the upper right of the abdomen
- pain radiating to the back
- crampy pain in the lower right side of the abdomen
- changes in bowel movement habits
- blood or mucus in the stool or urine
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
- tenderness or swelling on the painful area
These symptoms appear depending on which body organ is affected, which underlying condition is causing the right side pain, and how severe it is.
When To See a Doctor
If the pain on the right side of your abdomen lasts for several days, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Usually, if abdominal pain has no serious underlying cause, it will cease aching in one or two days. More specifically, consult your doctor if abdominal pain is:
- Severe and intolerable
- Existent for more than two days
- Getting worse over time
- Accompanied by fever, vomiting, and other symptoms