The rib cage surrounds the chest cavity which is scientifically known as the thoracic cavity and also supports the pectoral girdle or the shoulder girdle which consists of the upper trunk area that connect the hands to the body. The rib cage is an essential part of the human anatomy and encases the cardiovascular system. The structure of the rib cage consists of 12 horizontal bones on either side of the body. Pain under the rib cage may be experienced due to various conditions. These pains may be stemming from the right or the left sides of the rib cage. The intensity of pain originating from this area can be mild to severe and may last only for minutes or be prolonged over days. Most often, rib pain is associated with injury and resulting pain will be quite intense and excruciating at times, if one or more of rib bones are broken. However, there are instances when certain diseases and disorders may cause rib cage pain too.
Causes of Pain under Right Rib Cage
There are several organs that are located in within the abdomen area that is right underneath the rib cage. For instance, on the right side of the body, intestines, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, spleen and in the case of women, uterus and ovaries are located. Most often, pain under right rib cage may be a symptom of an injury or inflammation to any of the organs located in the abdomen cavity, under the right rib cage. Below are some of the possible illnesses and medical conditions that may cause pain under the rib cage.
- Liver damage -Liver damage or infections and inflammation of the liver can cause pain under right rib cage. Hepatitis is a resulting inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is caused by alcoholism and viral infections. Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, fatigue, weakness and upper abdominal pain, usually emanating from below the rib cage area.
- Gallbladder disease - This too may cause pain in upper right abdomen, which may be experienced as pain under right rib cage. Gallbladder disease occurs due to inflammation of the gallbladder, most often, due to gallstones. Gallstones form when fluid stored in the gallbladder hardens. Persons suffering with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also experience pain in upper right abdomen. IBS occurs due to a reaction to certain foods and stress. Bowel lesions and renal disorders may also cause pain under right rib cage.
- Crohn's Disease - Pain under the right rib cage may be experienced by persons affected with an inflammatory bowel disease known as Crohn's disease. Inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract affects bowel tissues and can be extremely painful. Symptoms of Crohn's disease include diarrhea, flatulence, and blood in the stools, ulcers and pain.
- Ulcers - Pain in the lower regions of the rib cage may also be due to an ulcer. An ulcer is an inflamed wound in the upper GI tract. Ulcers occur when inflammations cause wounds and sores in the stomach lining. The H. pylori bacteria and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common causes for ulcers. Ulcers require treatment, as without it, ulcers may grow bigger and cause extreme pain and bleeding. A perforated ulcer may require surgical repair. Recurrent ulcers may cause swelling and scarring which, over time, may cause problems with digestion.
- Costochondritis - Pain under right rib cage may be experienced due to costochondritis which refers to an inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone. This can occur due to injury, physical strain, infections, fibromyalgia and upper respiratory illnesses. Most often, costochondritis pain may be mistaken for cardio vascular disease symptoms. Other symptoms of costochondritis include pain when breathing or coughing and difficulty in breathing.
- Liver Cancer - Pain in upper right abdomen and pain under right rib cage may manifest due to liver cancer as well. Liver cancer occurs if abnormal cells multiply out of control within the liver, destroying healthy cells. Cancer of the liver may spread to other body parts, making the treatment complicated and often unsuccessful. Liver cancer is commonly caused due to alcoholism and hepatitis. Liver cancer symptoms include fever, jaundice, abdominal swelling, brown urine and unexplained weight loss, along with pain under the rib area.
- Injuries - While these are some of the possible medical conditions that can cause pain in the ribs, sometimes, it could simply be an injury or a fracture that is behind the pain. In such cases, an x-ray will help confirm the fracture and depending on a gravity of the injury surgical realignment may be needed. In case of hairline fractures and small injuries, with adequate rest, the injuries may heal naturally.
Persistent pain on the right side of the abdomen should be medically examined without fail. As this region of the anatomy house many vital organs, illnesses in any one of them may cause pain to be felt beneath the rib cage area. Failure to diagnose the cause may cause unnecessary complications and reduce the change of effective treatment and recovery.