13 Common Causes of Pain under Left Rib Cage

Are you feeling a sharp or dull pain under left rib cage? Many people wonder this is a heart-related pain. However, researchers tell us that 85% of hospital admissions for chest pain is NOT the heart attack.In most instances, chest pain could be a sign of angina or another cardiac issue. For example injury, kidney disease, gas, enlarged spleen, heartburn, or other digestive problems. It will be essential for you to know the various causes and the possible treatments that you can get to get rid of the left rib cage pain at the soonest possible time.

Causes of Pain under Left Rib Cage

13 Common Causes of Pain under Left Rib Cage

What organs are on the left side of the rib?The organs that you may cause pain are the heart, left lung, stomach, adrenal gland, left kidney, left ureter, spleen, pancreas, left the fallopian tube and left the ovary.Here are some of the possible causes why you are experiencing pain in your left rib cage.

  1. Rib Injury

The rib injury is probably one of the most common reasons why you are experiencing pain in your ribs.Accidents or severe impacts can cause cracked or fractured rib. However, many people do not know if their ribs are broken. You may feel mild or severe pain, which wraps around the ribs and causes rib pain in your back.Especially when you take a deep breath, the pain will increase.This serious injury requires immediate treatment, otherwise, it may affect other organs, such as the left kidney or spleen.

First, you need an X-ray check to determine the state. If there is a slight rupture of the ribs and the cracks are small, you can use painkillers to relieve pain, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The crack usually heals on its own between 1-2 month. At this time you need to take plenty of rest and avoid exercise, otherwise, it will aggravate your condition.If you have a serious rib fracture, you may need surgery.

  1. Costochondritis


Costochondritis is a cartilage inflammation that connects the ribs to the sternum. The symptoms of costochondritis are often similar to the heart attack. However, the main symptom of costochondritis is severe pain under the left rib cage. Coughing or deep breathing can aggravate the pain in the ribs, which may radiate to the left back or abdomen.

Costochondritis is usually caused by complications of your upper chest surgery or viral respiratory infections. To prevent the pain from getting worse, you need to have enough rest and avoid exercising until the pain is relieved.

You can relieve the pain by applying heat on the painful area of the ribs. You can also use ginger and turmeric to make an anti-inflammatory ginger tea to speed up the treatment process. These tea have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that can help reduce inflammation and relieve the joint pain.

You can also take medication to relieve costochondritis, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, hydrocodone or amitriptyline.

  1. Heartburn or Acid Reflux

Acid reflux or heartburn is another common cause of pain under the left rib cage.If you have eaten too much acidic food or drinks, you may feel a bloated feeling or a sharp burning sensation in your upper chest which feel like a heart attack.According to Mayo Clinic, heartburn may also be a symptom of a heart attack.

You can treat the heartburn by medications such as Dexlansoprazole, Esomeprazole or Lansoprazole.You should also need plenty of rest and avoid food that causes acid reflux.

  1. Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Kidneys stones can cause extremely intense and sharp pain under the left rib cage when the stones move down through your urinary tract.The main cause of kidney stones is the accumulation of minerals and salts in the kidneys.

The pain of kidneys stones may appear on your back, upper abdomen and spread to your groin or the lower part of your abdomen. It may also affect the right rib cage if the problem is with your right kidneys. The pain may start from your back going to the front.

Your urine may be foul smell and cloudy color.You may also have painful urination or even stop urination.You should see a doctor to remove the stones immediately.You can also try some natural home remedies to remove kidney stones.You can read 10 Natural Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

  1. IBS and IBD

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritable bowel disease (IBD) are the common cause of pain under the left rib cage.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause excess gas which may cause severe or dull abdominal pain.The type of pain that is experienced when a person is suffering from IBS may be very severe at times but most of the time, the pain would be dull.The common causes of IBS are overeating or lack of fiber-rich foods.IBS can also cause constipation, diarrhea, bloat or cramps in the intestine by disrupting the normal bowel movement.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause inflammation in the digestive tract which makes you feel pain in your upper abdomen.The pain is often accompanied by excess gas.

Both of a bad diet and a stressful lifestyle can cause IBS or IBD.They are difficult to fully treat.However, there are some natural home remedies to improve the symptoms.You can eat more high-fiber diet and drink aloe vera juice or peppermint to treat this syndrome.

  1. Heart Attack

Heart Attack

The heart attack may be the most worrying and life-threatening cause of pain under your ribs.Heart attack appears when oxygen-rich blood doesn’t get to your heart.This may be caused by blocked coronary arteries.

You may feel a severe chest discomfort like something squeezed your chest, burning feeling in the chest, short breath, vomiting, dizziness, cold sweats, vomiting, nausea or strange uncomfortable sensations in your jaw, back arms or neck.If you are suffering from this condition, you should seek medical attention at the soonest possible time.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle is also important to reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack.You’d better avoid smoking and too much alcohol consumption.Eating healthy food and getting physically active is also very useful for your heart health.

  1. Angina

Angina, which is similar to heart attack, is a chest pain that you will get when your heart does not get enough blood.This condition is common in people with overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or poor blood circulation.

Chest pain from angina can often be mistaken for heartburn or heart attack.You may feel a sudden pain in your chest even when you are resting.This is because your arteries are narrowed or blocked.

People often ignore the serious of angina.It can convert into a life-threatening heart-related disease.People who are about to get a heart attack may suffer from this condition first before getting an attack.

Do not ignore Angina symptoms, you should change your lifestyle such as lowering cholesterol, keeping blood pressure, maintaining a healthy diet and reducing stress.

  1. Pericarditis

Our heart is protected by the pericardium. If the pericardium is inflamed, you may feel severe stinging pain in the chest or left ribs, especially when you are coughing. In addition, you may also have other symptoms such as fever, palpitations, weakness, or a swollen belly.

The exact cause of pericarditis has not been established, but some studies show that it may be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, viral infections or heart trauma.

To ease the pain, you can take painkillers and rest a lot, in most cases, the condition will go away on its own.

  1. Lung Disease

Collapsed lung

Lung disease is a common cause of pain under the left rib cage.There are different types of lung diseases that people may suffer from. It usually makes you harder to breathe. At the same time, you may also suffer from a chronic cough.


Pneumonia can make people feel very sick. Most people who feel this are unable to breathe normally. Pneumonia will usually get cured in about 2 – 3 weeks, but some people may not get cured of this condition immediately. The elderly may exhibit different symptoms and need more attention.


This is the condition where fluid forms in between the lungs and the chest cavity. This is a condition that will not occur unless the person is suffering from an underlying condition. People who are suffering from this condition may have difficulty breathing.

Lung Collapse

This is a condition also known as pneumothorax. The air goes to space in between the chest wall and the lungs. People will normally have difficulty breathing when this happens. Some people experience this because of various conditions while there are also some who get this for no reason.

  1. Constipation and Indigestion

Constipation is a common cause of pain around the rib cage.This is a condition wherein hard stools form in the colo, which makes the stools hard to remove from the body.You may feel pain in the abdomen or difficulty breathing. Indigestion can also cause irritating pain in the left part of your abdomen, especially when you have a fatty meal.

Gas stuck in your colon can also cause the pain under the rib cage.  Usually, you may feel the pain reverberating from the upper portion of the left side of your abdomen towards the left side of your rib cage.

Constipation, indigestion or gas stuck in your colon is not so serious.You can change your lifestyle to get rid of the pain.You can eat more high fiber food and avoid food that causes constipation and indigestion.

You can try some home remedies to get rid of constipation, indigestion, and gas.

  1. Stomach Ulcer or Gastritis

Stomach ulcer or gastritis can also cause pain under the left rib cage. Bacterial infection can cause gastritis and make the stomach get inflamed and swells up.The pain from the stomach ulcer or gastritis is extremely sharp and radiate to your shoulder blades and rib cages.

You can take some stomach drugs and antacids to remove the stomach ulcer.You should maintain a healthy diet and rest.

  1. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a common cause of pain upper the left abdomen. The pancreas, located below the left rib, can produce enzymes that aid in digestion. Overuse of alcohol and gallstones are the main causes of pancreas inflammation.
If the pancreas is inflamed, you may feel pain in your chest. If you eat high-fat foods or lie on your back, the pain may get worse and radiate to the left shoulder blade or back. You may also feel the abdominal swelling.

Pancreatitis is very dangerous, you must go to the hospital as soon as possible. In order to prevent pancreatitis recurrence, you should avoid smoking, alcohol and drink plenty of water, eat low-fat food, exercise properly.

  1. Enlarged Spleen

The enlarged spleen is a common cause of pain under the left rib cage.The spleen is the organ situated in the upper portion of your abdomen. The spleen is in charge of producing white blood cells that can get rid of the bacteria, other foreign matter, and dead tissue.At the same time, the spleen makes sure that the blood is filtered properly.

The spleen is about the size of your fist, same as your heart but when it becomes inflamed, it may become so big that it can be easily felt.

Some of the causes of having an enlarged spleen are infections, cancer, trauma or inflammatory diseases such as lupus, Arthritis and other diseases that cause inflammation.

Some common symptoms are the following:

  • You normally have trouble eating a large meal.
  • Uncomfortable whenever you have eaten too much.
  • Pain that may start on the left side of your body and radiate to your left shoulder.
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Hemophilia – Like Symptoms
  • Anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Prone to getting infections

When you have an enlarged spleen, do not do any physical activities that might cause your spleen to rupture. Remember that once your spleen ruptures, you may encounter blood loss. You need to get treatments for your enlarged spleen. You better seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Pain under Left Rib Cage

Types of Pain Under Left Rib Cage You May Experience

  • Pain under left rib when breathing – This type of pain is related to the lungs. A lot of lung diseases may eventually lead to the collapse of the lungs. When this happens, people may not be able to take their normal breaths.
  • Sudden sharp stabbing pain in left side under rib cage –  This pain may be caused by an injury or a broken rib cage. At the time, sharp and sudden pains may come from having problems with the spleen.
  • Pain under left rib after eating – This pain is an indication that your body is having problems digesting the food you have just eaten.You should slow down while you are eating.
  • Dull pain under left rib cage – This type of pain is usually caused by having a stomach ulcer. A stomach ulcer can be very painful and may usually occur after eating. The dull pain may also be caused by having gas in the colon.
  • Sharp temporary cramping under left rib cage – The main reason for this is stomach gas. Take note of the food that you have eaten before you experience excess stomach gas. The food that you eat will sometimes have an effect on the process of your digestion.
  • Pain under left rib cage in the back – This pain may be caused by kidney problems.  If it is the right kidney that has kidney stones, then this is the side that will hurt.

When to See a Doctor

You should consult your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms occur.

  • Chills and Fever
  • Sudden sharp pain or unexplained pain in your rib cage.
  • Left side chest pain that radiates to your arm and back.
  • Dizziness Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid breathing and rapid heart rate.
  • Very high or low blood pressure.


  1. Inderpal February 23, 2016
    • RiRi May 15, 2016
      • Lorimorris October 3, 2016
    • hello August 4, 2017

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