Could that new, mysterious and recurring pain on the left side of your abdomen or ribcage area possibly be gallstones?

What if you’ve already been diagnosed with gallstones and that these are what’s been causing the pain on your right side?

And now you have new-onset discomfort that seems to be originating on your left side.

Is it possible that your diagnosed gallstones, or even undiagnosed gallstones that have never caused any pain on your right side, could be causing pain to radiate to the left side?

“Not really; the gallbladder sits on the right side of the abdomen just beneath the liver and ribcage,” says Nadeem Baig, MD, a board certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Monmouth Gastroenterology, a division of Allied Digestive Health.

“When gallstones form and cause gallbladder attacks, people usually feel pain where the gallbladder sits,” continues Dr. Baig.

“Gallbladder attacks classically can be felt in the right shoulder blade also, so it’s quite common for people to feel some pain in their right mid- or upper back.

“In some people, their brains sense the pain coming from the mid-upper stomach area.

“Gallbladder attacks can even mimic heart attacks.

“But the only way gallstones could cause pain on the left side is if someone was born with a gallbladder and liver on the left side. This is called situs inversus, and only occurs in up to one in 10,000 people.”

If you’ve been having unexplained pain on the left side of your torso, you can confidently rule out gallstones—assuming that you don’t have situs inversus.

Causes of Pain in the Middle or Upper Portion of the Left Side

• Acid reflux

• Angina (restricted blood flow to the heart)

• Aortic aneurysm (dilated blood vessel)

• Broken rib

• Colon cancer

• Constipation

• Costochondritis (inflammation of cartilage in the ribcage)

• Diverticulitis (inflammation of the diverticula)

• Enlarged spleen from lymphoma or leukemia

• Gas bubble

• Gastroenteritis (stomach inflammation)

• Heart attack

• Irritable bowel syndrome

• Kidney stones

• Muscle strain

• Pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart)

• Stomach ulcer

This list is far from complete. If you have persistent aching or pain in your left side (including lower), you should see your physician.

Dr. Baig’s specialties include gastrointestinal cancers and liver disease, plus gallbladder, biliary tract and pancreatic disorders. He is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



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