Right side abdominal pain is a common condition that could arise due to various diseases. You may feel a sharp or dull ache in the area between your lower chest and pelvis. Pain on the right side of your abdomen is usually caused by one of the organs located there, such as the appendix, intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or right kidney.
In most cases, right-side abdominal pain is nothing to worry about as it could result from indigestion. And this symptom usually doesn’t last long; you don’t need to worry about it. In other cases, pain in your right side abdomen can signal something more serious like cancer. This article discusses 14 common causes of right side abdominal pain with treatment.
Vital Organs on the Right Side of the Abdomen
Right upper abdomen: liver, right kidney, gallbladder, right lung, and duodenum.
Right lower abdomen: Part of the stomach, colon, right ovary, fallopian tube(women), and appendix.
Symptoms of right Side Abdominal Pain
The pain on the right side of your abdomen can be intense or dull; it can last for a short time (acute pain) or an extended period (chronic pain). The pain may start in one location and spread (radiate) to another.
The most common symptoms of right side abdominal pain include nausea, cramping, diarrhea, fever, and constipation. Other symptoms with lower-right abdominal pain may include changes in bowel habits, weight loss, fever, blood or mucus in the stool, or tenderness when pressing on the right lower abdomen.
14 Common Causes of Right Side Abdominal Pain
There are several possible causes of right-side abdominal pain. The most common causes of right-sided abdominal pain include:
Your appendix is a finger-like pouch located at the lower right side of your abdomen. When the appendix becomes inflamed, it accompanies intense pain at the right side of your abdomen.
The pain may start in the middle or right side of the abdomen and migrate down to the lower right side. In some cases, the lower right side of your stomach may become swollen and tender.
Other symptoms accompanying appendicitis include fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.
Acute appendicitis can be life-threatening. Most people with appendicitis will require immediate surgery to remove the appendix before it bursts and causes other complications.
2. Kidney Problems
If you have problems with your right kidney, chances are you will experience right-side abdominal pain. Some issues that can cause kidney pain include:
- Kidney infection
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Kidney Stones
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
- Blood clots in your kidney(s)
- Bleeding in your kidney(s)
Any of these kidney problems can cause abdominal pain. Depending on the cause, the pain may be sharp and radiate behind the ribs or into the groin.
Other symptoms that accompany kidney problems include:
- A burning feeling when urinating,
- Blood in the urine
- and tenderness in the right flank— the area between your hip and ribs.
3. Blood clot or infection in the right lung
When a blood clot moves to the lung, it causes a condition known as pulmonary embolism. A blood clot in the right lung can cause sharp, severe, and acute right upper abdominal pain.
Pulmonary embolism symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, rapid breathing, and blood-tinged sputum (mucus) with coughing. Pneumonia is a painful lung infection that can cause fever.
A hernia occurs when an internal body part pushes through a muscle or tissue wall weakness, resulting in a small lump. They most commonly occur in the abdominal region.
A lump may appear in the midsection or near the groin on occasion. Hernias come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the underlying cause.
Hernias are frequently painless and have few other symptoms. On the other hand, some can cause soreness around the lump, worsening when strained, such as coughing or lifting a heavy object. Because hernias can lead to further complications, it is critical to see a doctor as soon as possible.
5. Ovarian Cysts
Cysts are sacs that form on the ovaries. Larger ones can cause dull or sharp pain in the abdomen, but they are usually harmless. Other signs and symptoms may include:
- pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- periods that are unusually heavy or light
- quickly becoming full
- Difficulty urinating
6. Pelvic conditions in women
Some Conditions in a woman’s pelvic area that can cause lower-right abdominal pain include ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cyst, and infection.
An ectopic pregnancy is a fertilized egg attached outside the uterus, typically within one of the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy pain may be acute and sharp.
Other symptoms may include vaginal bleeding and changes in bowel habits. Pain from an ovarian cyst may come and go and be dull and radiate to the back. Other symptoms may include abnormal and painful periods. A pelvic infection may cause fever, vaginal discharge, or bleeding.
7. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and salts within your kidneys. You might not feel any pain until the kidney stones start moving around or passing into the tube connecting your kidney and bladder.
When this happens, you will experience excruciating pain in your back and side, below the ribs, and throughout your lower abdomen and groin. As the kidney stone shifts and moves through your urinary tract, the intensity and location of the pain may change.
Other signs and symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Painful urination
- Pink, red, or brown urine
- Urine that is cloudy or smells
If an infection is present, you may experience nausea, vomiting, a constant need to pee, frequent urination, fevers, and chills.
Some certain types of cancer can cause right-side abdominal pain. For instance, stomach cancer, any cancer that spreads to the organs located at the right side of the abdomen, can trigger right abdominal pain.
The signs and symptoms of cancer may include:
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained and unintentional weight loss
- Belly pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
- The build-up of fluid, or swelling, in the abdominal area
9. Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic disorder that affects the digestive system.
The primary symptom of IBS is abdominal pain. Other symptoms that accompany IBS include:
- mucus in the stool
- a change in bowel movements
Although doctors have not identified the primary cause of irritable bowel syndrome, scientists have linked IBS to stronger-than-normal intestinal contractions or abnormalities in your digestive and nervous systems.
10. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
IBS shouldn’t be mistaken with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a group of debilitating digestive disorders that cause bowel tissue changes and raise your risk of colorectal cancer.
The two most common causes of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both chronic diseases cause inflammation in the digestive tract, resulting in abdominal pain.
IBD may also cause:
- blood in your stool
- reduced appetite
- severe diarrhea
- weight loss
If left untreated, IBD can lead to life-threatening complications. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor right away.
11. Menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps are throbbing, aching cramps in your lower abdomen that occur just before and during your period. They can occur just before or during that time of the month. Many women get them regularly. Cramps can range in severity from mild to severe.
The cramps are most commonly felt on one or both sides of the lower abdomen, where the uterus is contracting to expel its lining. Other symptoms of menstrual cramps include:
- Dull, constant ache
- Pain throughout your lower back and thighs
- Loose stools
Severe injury to one of the organs in your right abdomen can damage the organ and cause right side abdominal pain.
Shingle is a symptom caused by the varicella virus. It can cause abdominal pain, itchy skin, and headaches. In addition, shingles can cause red skin rashes and skin sensitivity. In most cases, you will experience pain on only one side of your upper body instead of both.
Heartburn is a common symptom of indigestion. This is usually caused by esophageal reflux disease (GERD). When stomach acid returns to the esophagus, it irritates the skin and causes pain in the upper abdomen.
Other common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and feeling trapped in your throat. A cup of baking soda can effectively neutralize stomach acid and help relieve heartburn symptoms.
Diagnosis of Right Side Abdominal Pain
Because lower right abdominal pain can be caused by issues with the digestive system, urinary system, or reproductive organs, Your doctor may require various approaches to reach a diagnosis.
Your doctor may attempt several tests, including
- Physical examination
- MRI scans
- ultrasound imaging
- CT scans
- blood tests
A primary care physician may refer a patient with pain in the lower right abdomen to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist for digestive issues or a urologist for pain caused by bladder or kidney problems.
See a gynecologist for problems with the womb, ovaries, or an ectopic pregnancy.
Treatment for Right Side Abdominal pain
Treating abdominal pain usually depends on the cause of the pain. OTC pain relievers are generally enough to treat less severe causes of pain in the lower-right abdomen. Some, such as abdominal gas, will go away without treatment.
If you have a kidney infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Some people with severe abdominal pain may require surgery. Appendicitis usually involves the removal of the appendix, known as an appendectomy. Kidney stones will require intravenous (IV) pain relief while the stone passes or, in extreme cases, surgery.
Unfortunately, some of the conditions that cause right-side abdominal pain are chronic, such as endometriosis and IBD. It is difficult to get rid of the disease, so the only treatment is to manage the symptoms.
When should you See the Doctor?
If your right abdominal pain persists for more than a few days or causes you concern, you should see a doctor.
Mild abdominal pain is usually treatable at home. Changing your diet, for example, can help treat gas and indigestion, while certain pain relievers can help control menstrual cramps.
However, You should avoid aspirin (Bufferin) and ibuprofen (Advil) because they can irritate your stomach and worsen abdominal pain.
Right Abdominal Pain Warning Signs
If your abdominal pain goes away on its own and does not return may not require medical attention. However, consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or if it persists. Abdominal pain is never normal, so notify your doctor of your symptoms.
Certain “red flags” indicate that you should seek medical attention. Keep an eye out for the following serious symptoms:
- Pain is severe or worsening
- Nausea or vomiting
- Vomiting blood
- Severe tenderness of the abdomen
- Constipation that lasts more than three days
- Blood in your stool
- Pain with swelling of the abdomen
- Pain with vaginal discharge or bleeding
Pain in the lower right abdomen is usually nothing to worry about as the pain will go away on its own in a day or two. However, if your abdominal pain is caused by a chronic condition, such as IBD, Crohn’s disease, or persistent discomfort, you must consult with your doctor. It can signal something serious. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and provide a diagnosis.