Some pains which occur in the body, such as pain under right rib when breathing isn’t normal to health. If you experience hurt within the rib cage when breathing, you need to pay attention because something is wrong. Different conditions may be responsible for this kind of pain. A few vital organs which may cause pain within the region under the rib are located around the rib cage.
What Is Rib Cage?
The rib cage is the structure of the human rib which consists of 24 ribs. It has 12 on right side and 12 on the left side. The rib cage shields the organs of the chest, including the heart and the lungs, from damage.
The part of the body where the ribs are joined to is the breastbone. It is the structure of the long bone that runs down the center of the chest. The rib bones have cartilage, which is a firm yet flexible tissue that attaches it to the front. Likewise, it is attached to the spine at the back.
The liver can be found at the lower end of the rib cage on the right. While the spleen is on the left side. The rib bones hide or protect these two sensitive organs. Also, below the rib cage is where the gallbladder and kidneys are.
However, pain may occur under the rib if any of the organs including the cartilage and bone if affected by illness or injury.
Even as pain under the right rib when breathing may be very disturbing, there can be several causes to it. Quite a number of some conditions can be the common causes for pain under right rib when breathing.
What Causes the Pain Under The Ribs in the Right Upper Quadrant of Abdomen?
The structure of the abdomen is sectioned into four parts or categorized into a quadrant.
The ribs in the right upper quadrant contain many important organs, including parts of your liver, right kidney, gallbladder, pancreas, and large and small intestine.
Hence, it becomes very important to pay attention to pain in your RUQ because it could be an indicator of a number of diseases or conditions. These include:
1. Liver conditions
The liver disorder is another problem that can also cause pain under right rib when breathing. Some of these conditions include hepatitis, liver abscess, or liver cancer. Sharp pain and a connecting gastric expression under the rib. This pain kind of pain is not commonly observed, particularly when there is inflammation of capsule of the liver.
In addition to pain under right rib when breathing, other symptoms of a liver condition can include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Jaundice (yellowish skin)
- Darkened urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
If you notice any consistency in the pain and symptoms with the liver condition, it is best you see a doctor.
2. Kidney problems
Some of the problems in the kidney that can lead to RUQ include stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI). Others are a kidney infection or kidney cancer.
The problem that can come as symptoms of ribs in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen include:
- Painful urination
- Blood in your urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pain that radiates to the lower back or groin
- Frequent urination
- Nausea or vomiting
It is advisable to always consult your doctor if you have RUQ pain and suspect it may be due to a kidney problem.
3. Gallbladder problems
Gallstones or choledocholithiasis, which is gallbladder problems can cause pain under right rib cage when breathing too. Choledocholithiasis is the presence of gallstones within your bile ducts.
Pain under right rib cage caused by gallstones may last several hours. It mostly occurs after a large meal or in the evening. In addition, symptoms to look out for can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Darkened urine or light-colored stools
- Yellowish skin (jaundice)
Stones in the bile ducts can degenerate to serious complications. Therefore, If you’re experiencing gallstones or choledocholithiasis symptoms consistently, you need to see your doctor.
Preeclampsia is a condition that usually occurs in women who are at least 20 weeks into their pregnancy. There are chances that it may also develop earlier in pregnancy, or, in some cases, postpartum.
The main feature of preeclampsia is a rise in blood pressure. Pain under right rib cage when breathing often occurs as well.
Additional symptoms can include:
- Blurred vision or sensitivity to light
- Protein in urine
- Severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased urination
- Kidney or liver problems
- Shortness of breath
A pregnant woman mostly should be closely monitored by the doctor. Majorly, the blood pressure, in this case, is what needs to be monitored as part of your prenatal care visits. Subsequently, if you happen to experience preeclampsia symptoms such as Pain under the right rib cage, blurred vision, or shortness of breath, you should seek immediate medical care as it can be life-threatening for both you and your child if left untreated.
5. Pancreatic conditions
Pain under right rib cage when breathing can be felt if your pancreas is inflamed, which is known as pancreatitis. The pain experienced from pancreatitis slowly worsens over time.
Symptoms associated with it include:
- Increase in heart rate
- Nausea or vomiting
Those who suffer from the cases of pancreatitis are usually required to be hospitalized for treatment.
6. Gastrointestinal issues
Gastrointestinal condition is primarily a digestive problem. Indigestion, gastritis, and peptic ulcers are some of the gastrointestinal problems that can cause RUQ pain.
This condition produces a dull, burning type of pain. Other symptoms can include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Burping or gas
- A feeling of uncomfortable fullness
- Nausea or vomiting
Though most cases of indigestion and gastritis are mild and will resolve themselves, you still need to see your doctor. Especially in the case where you have symptoms for a week or longer. Again, if you suspect that you have a peptic ulcer, you should see your doctor.
Others Causes of Pain Under Right Rib Cage When Breathing Are:
Though this may sound surprising, injuries are really the most common causes of pain under your right rib cage. People in most cases do not realize that they have injured rib until during their visit to a doctor. However, a broken or injured rib may result in either severe or mild pain.
Where there is a case of insignificant fractures, it is most likely that your ribs may heal on their own. What you would need at this point is a lot of rest and avoid exercising for some time. The seriousness of the injury can only be determined by the doctor through conducting chest X-ray examination.
In addition to X-ray, MRI and CT scan may be recommended by your doctor. This is so in order to show the soft tissue and identify the injury which an X-ray hasn’t shown.
Rib injury may also cause serious complications due to an internally damaged organ. The complication may have affected your liver, kidney, or spleen. If after treating your ribs and you still feel pain in the region, consult it with your doctor.
2. Digestive Problems
Metabolism and the digestive system are linked with the common problem which results in pain under the right rib cage. This connection is due to the fact that many people eat fatty or fast food. An unhealthy lifestyle in terms of eating may negatively affect our digestion process too.
A feeling of discomfort or pain under your right rib while breathing is very often caused by excessive gas in your colon. You may feel it in different parts of your abdominal area, depending on the location of the buildup of gas, however, it usually occurs under the right rib cage.
Excessive eating of heavy meal or food rich in carbohydrates causes gas in the system. Dairy products are examples of foods that are heavy for our digestive system. To get quick relief, you can try over-the-counter products, which speed up digestion or go for natural methods, such as tea made of chamomile, ginger, or peppermint.
3. Lung Diseases
There are some lung related diseases which affect the lung. A situation such as this does cause pain under the right rib when breathing. This condition often comes with symptoms.
A major lung disease which is regarded as medically, the most serious is pneumonia. It is a complication caused by a fungal, viral, or bacterial infection. However, these infections are to be effectively and fully treated.
Due to this disease, pain may occur either under the left or right rib cage. It all depends on which lung is affected by the disease. The pain is usually a sharp or stabbing kind of pain, and it gets worse when you want to take a deep breath. Some symptoms which are experienced are headaches, chills, fever, cough, and weakness.
Pneumonia is a condition of health with an infection on the lung, it can also lead to serious illness. In some cases, pneumonia may be treated at home, while in some cases the sufferer may be admitted in the hospital. The cause of this infection can be due to either bacteria or a virus. Usually, antibiotics are used to treat Pneumonia caused by bacteria. Subsequently, viral pneumonia is not ideally treated with antibiotics. It requires bed rest in order to clear off.
Costochondritis is a condition associated with inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib cage to the breastbone or sternum. This state of health can be caused by trauma to the chest or physical strain. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antianxiety medications are usually used to treat Conschondritis. This condition is not usually serious and it may go away on its own.
The inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs and covers the inside of the rib cage is called Pleurisy. The work of the membrane which is called the pleura, moist’s and lubricates the lungs, so the rib cage can glide smoothly over it as you breathe. Usually, in some cases, if these surfaces become inflamed, they lose their moisture and rub together like two pieces of rough sandpaper. This can cause extreme pain in right rib cage when breathing.
A major cause of pleurisy is viral infections. Despite that there not immediately obvious conditions which may be the root cause of the problem. It is very important that you go for medical treatment to determine if there is another issue at play.
This is a disorder of the bone and joints which can cause inflammation and pain under right rib cage. Some factors can be responsible for this, which are Vitamin D deficiency or other factors causing brittle bones. However, osteoporosis can lead to pain under right rib cage.
8. Intercostal muscle spasm
The intercostal muscle spasm, also known to be involuntary muscle spasms are also called girdling or MS girdling. The right side rib cage pain often comes with a severe bout of cough and sneezing. Subsequently, the frequent contraction of intercostal muscles causes muscle spasm. The Pain usually increases with inspiration and deep breathing.
9. Inflammatory Bowel Disorder
Inflammatory Bowel Disorder is linked to obstruction of the bowel or inflammation of the gut which can cause conditions like Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis Diseases. Consumption of certain food items may be evident. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases usually involve severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss.
10. Rib Contusion and Fracture
Engaging in forceful or rigorous activities can cause bruises, cracks or injuries on the right rib cage. The severity of pain under right rib cage caused due to fractured ribs depends on the degree of fracture and need proper evaluation and management.
11. Acid Reflux and Ulcers Can Cause Pain Under Rib Cage
Acid reflux and ulcer can cause pain under right rib while breathing. Pain under the breastbone and the rib cage can also occur due to regurgitation of food contents and reflux of acid into the food pipe.
The burning sensation may be experienced in the throat after food intake or when the stomach is empty for long.
Similar pain under the right rib can be caused by peptic ulcer because it affects the duodenum which is found on the right side.
However, abdominal bleeding may occur as a result. Hence, it is very necessary to go for timely diagnosis and treatment.
How To Diagnose Pain Under Right Rib When Breathing
In order to diagnose the cause of your RUQ pain, your doctor will request your medical history and also perform a physical examination.
Also, they may order some tests to reach a diagnosis, including:
- A stool culture to see if there are any pathogens present in your stool.
- Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan, to help see the inside of your abdomen or to check for the presence of stones.
- A basic or comprehensive metabolic panel (BMP or CMP) to evaluate your liver function, blood cell counts, and electrolyte levels.
- Endoscopy to check for the presence of ulcers.
- Urinalysis to assess your kidney function or to check for a UTI or kidney stones.
Medical Procedures And Recovery Of Pain Under Right Rib
Basically, surgery is usually avoided to be carried out in this instance by the doctor. However, surgery may be required in some cases in order to avoid complications or a worsened disease condition.
For instance, if gallstones that block a bile duct (choledocholithiasis) are not removed, it may cause life-threatening complications. The gallbladder may also be completely removed if the doctor finds it to be a health emergency.
In a situation where the kidney stones are too large to be passed naturally; the doctor may choose to use sound waves to break the stones into smaller pieces that can be passed out. They may also use a scope to remove the stones.
Surgery may be necessary if you are diagnosed with kidney or liver cancer. It will enable the removal of the tumor and this depends on the level or stage of cancer.
How To Prevent Pain Under Right Rib When Breathing
Pain under right rib can be prevented in some instances by:
Eating a healthy diet, including:
- Foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, and beans.
- Foods with healthy fats, such as olive oil and fish oil, while avoiding unhealthy fats like fried food.
- Avoiding indigestion by making sure foods have been cooked completely and avoiding food or drinks that are spicy, greasy, or contain a lot of acid or caffeine.
- Avoiding foods that contain refined carbohydrates, sugars, and salt.
- Staying hydrated, because drinking lots of liquids can help flush bacteria from your urinary tract.
- Using calcium supplements with caution to avoid kidney stones.
- Quitting smoking and lowering your alcohol intake.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
Some Ways To Treat Pain Under Right Rib When Breathing
Treatment for RUQ pain is dependent on what’s causing it.
- Medications such as proton pump inhibitors or acid blockers to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach or intestines.
- Antibiotics to kill bacteria that are causing an infection.
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort.
- Antacids to help neutralize stomach acid.
- Surgical procedures, such as those to remove stones or excise a tumor.
- Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy.