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Digestive Disorders

Pain under lower right rib

09/10/2007

Question:

About three years ago, I had a sudden acute pain develop under my lower right rib. It was so severe that I had my husband take me to the emergency room after trying to deal with it at home for 4 hours. The pain eventually subsided, only to return periodically as a dull ache in the same location. My doctor has since decided that it is probally a stomach ulcer and has put me on prilosec. But I can`t find a connection between any food or drink or exercise that brings the pain on. I`ve had x-rays, ultrasound, and a CT scan as well as the normal bloodwork, and the meds don`t really seem to do anything. Also, if I sleep on my right side, I wake up to severe stiffness and pain on that side. Is it possible that this is my gallblader, and what tests should I request be performed?

Answer:

The main organs on the right side are the liver, gallbladder and colon. An ultrasound would evaluate the gallbladder and liver. Bloodwork can also provide information on whether the liver or gallbladder appears to be inflamed. Sometimes pain in other organs can "refer" or be felt in a different location. Also sometimes the muscles and nerves between the abdominal organs and skin can become inflamed and cause pain.

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Response by:

Julia Gore Thornton, MD Julia Gore Thornton, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University