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What causes pain under left ribs and how to treat?

Like pain in the lower left of abdomen, pain under left rib cage is a popular symptom that can happen to almost every one.

Although it can clear up on its own within minutes or hours, it’s worth your attention for fast relieve and medical treatments in some cases.

Keep reading to know more about its causes and treatments!

Facts of ribs and rib pain

The rib cage in our body is made up of 24 ribs (12 ribs on each side) which functions in protecting organs lying beneath them. The left-side ribs help to protect heart, left lung, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and left kidney.

Your left-sided rib pain can occur in your abdominal part of the body, between the ribs or in the chest. The position of the pain can tell a lot about causes of the pain and whether it’s a signal of medical emergency or not.

Pain under left ribs can appear in different degree: strong or mild, chronic or episodic, sudden or constant.

Facts of ribs and rib pain

Causes of left-sided pain under rib cage

There are different contributors of pain under left rib cage. Knowing its cause would help a lot with the treatment at home as well as diagnosis and medical treatments of doctor in more severe cases.

1. Rib injuries

The first cause of the pain must come to rib injuries. A broken or fractured rib, which of course triggers the pain at the right time, may also hurt other internal organs like spleen or left kidney.

2. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, which refers to inflammation of your pancreas, can lead to pain under left ribs. It mostly occurs in those who take excessive consumption of alcohol and those who deal with gallstones. Pancreatitis can cause unwanted weight loss, so you should go to see your doctor as soon as possible.

3. Costochondritis

When the cartilage that connects your ribs and breastbone gets inflammation, it triggers Costochondritis and ends up with a sharp, stabbing pain right on the left side of your rib cage. The symptom worsens when you cough, sneeze, or press on your ribs.

4. Splenomegaly

Splenomegaly, a spleen-related disease is also a cause of the pain. Spleen functions in removing old or damaged blood cells and producing the white ones that help in fighting infection.

When the spleen enlarges, it triggers pain in the lower left abdomen and pain under the left ribs. It most cases, it goes with the feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food. In a more serious case, when the spleen ruptures, present with other signs, like low blood pressure, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, call your local emergency center right away.

Heart attack

5. Heart attack

Pain under left rib cage may be one of multiple symptoms of a heart attack that happens when your blood can’t reach your heart. It may happen with tightness, pain, aching, pressure, or squeezing in your chest or arms and may spread to your jaw, back, or neck.

6. Pericarditis

Pericarditis refers to inflammation of Pericardium, a fluid-filled sac that surrounds and protects your heart. In this case, it causes strong ache under your left rib cage or in your chest and other symptoms like legs and abdomen swelling, weakness or heart palpitations.

Depending on how long the symptom lasts, Pericarditis is categorized into acute (last less than three weeks), incessant (continuous and last four to six weeks), recurrent (reoccur four to six weeks later) and chronic (last longer than three months). Knowing them is a need for diagnosis and medical treatment.

7. Pneumonia

You may also suffer from pain under left ribs caused by Pneumonia, the most common lung-related disease. It happens when your lung gets some infections, and might be stronger when you cough or take some deep breath. See a doctor when your situation gets more severe.

Facts of ribs and rib pain

8. Indigestion

Indigestion causes pain under the left rib cage and in the left part of your abdomen as well. You’ve probably known the feeling of fullness and discomfort in the stomach though you just eat a small amount of food.  This symptom is the result of improper diet, anxiety, reaction to medications, pregnancy, or disease.

9. Kidney stone

Like indigestion, kidney stone may make you experience pain in these two positions. Every year, there are over a half-million people to go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

This symptom appears when your body receives insufficient amount of water and exercise, endures obesity and weight-loss surgery, and absorbs an excessive portion of salt or sugar from food.


There is no common treatment used for all cases of pain under left rib cage. Your condition and disease that causes the pain is two key factors in dealing with it. Indigestion, for instance, may be treated by adopting a more proper diet and taking some rest so that your body can totally relax. If the pain is caused by Pancreatitis, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

And, when it happens as a result of life-threatening diseases like pericarditis or heart attack, call your local emergency is a must.


Reading here, you have already known most common causes of the left-sided rib pain. It at least enables you to deal with the ache as best as you can right at home. And, in some serious case, when your pain need diagnosis and medical treatment, knowing them will not make you shocked. This really matters, right?

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