A doctor explains

how gallstones cause pain…

“Biliary colic usually happens when the gallbladder contracts in response to a fatty meal,” says Akram Alashari, MD, abdominal surgeon and critical care physician, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida.

“This compresses the stones, blocking the opening. As the gallbladder relaxes several hours after the meal, the pain subsides. In some people, the pain happens without having eaten anything.”

Pain from Gallstones Is Not a Singular Event

“Once you have a first attack of biliary colic, there is a good chance you will have more symptoms in the future,” continues Dr. Alashari. “Such recurrent symptoms are usually more severe and occasionally associated with complications.

“A complication of gallstones that can be associated with sharp pain rather than dull pain is acute cholecystitis. Acute cholecystitis refers to inflammation of the gallbladder.

“This happens when there is a complete blockage of the gallbladder, caused by a gallstone. Unlike biliary colic, which resolves within a few hours, pain is constant with acute cholecystitis and fever is common.”