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Avatar universal

Upper LEFT quadrant pain

I am 31 years old. This past May I had severe left sided upper quadrant pain. It felt like it was just under my ribs, usually in the front but sometimes in my side and when most severe, in my back. It lasted for about 3 weeks and I just let it go, confident that it would just go away.
In the first week of August the exact same pain came back. It was so severe that I called my MD after only 3 days. I had chest x-rays, abd sonogram and blood work. The only abnormality was my amylase which was 397. My lipase was somewhat elevated also. I had an abd CT which showed a slightly enlarged pancreas but was told that was probably normal for my age. I was but on prevacid and told to see what happens. I still complained of severe pain do I had an EGD. All was normal. I then had an ERCP done and while no obstruction was noted I did end up with pancreatitis and was in the hospital for 5 days. The 'pancreatitis' pain has now resolved but my original pain remains. I can now relate some of the pain to after meals but that pain usually occurs on the right side. The left sided pain is ALWAYS there. It gets bad and then eases up but is always there. I do become nauseated at times but I am not vomiting. I lost 10 pounds in the hospital but put 6 back on. No further weight loss has been noted. My GI physician is stumped. He did mention sphincter manometry but is hesitant due to my pancreatitis.
What I want to know is this: Is there a profile of patients who have sphincter dysfunction? Are there certain things that cause it or is the cause unknown? Would that cause LEFT sided pain. With the tests I have had done, would CA be ruled out or would that still be a possibility?
                          Thank you,
                              Elizabeth
111 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Elizabeth,
Left upper quadrant pain can be a difficult problem for physicians and patients.  Your posting indicates that you did have pancreatitis, even before the ERCP.  Whether your current pain is due to the pancreas is uncertain.  Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) can also cause vague abdominal pains.  A gastric emptying study can determine if you have gastroparesis.

Patients with sphincter of oddi dysmotility frequently have abdominal pain suggestive of biliary tree/pancreatic disease.  The pains are often vague and difficult to diagnose.  Hints that the problem might be in the sphincter include elevated liver tests and delayed emptying of the common bile duct after ERCP.
Avatar universal
Have you received a cardiac workup?  Women have atypical symptoms for angina pain.
Avatar universal
Hi---I have the EXACT same Upper Left pain you speak of---& have test after test after test---upper GI's  cat scans/abdominal scans
and NADA.....am very frustrated & wish I knew what to do also.......
Rob
Avatar universal
It is comforting to know that someone else is going through the same thing...Are you still being worked up? I had more blood drawn last week and I am waiting to hear from the MD.

I can't believe the number of people who have unexplained abd. pain. It is somewhat disheartening. Let me know if you find anything out...
                                    Elizabeth
Avatar universal
I have a had very similar problems and I have been seeing doctors for ten years. Keep asking questions until you find out what is wrong. I refuse to give up(just like the pain doesn't) and if enough people ask long enough more funding will be put into research and new drugs.  You may have lost weight but in the long run I ended up putting on a lot of weight which I really hate this pain is very limiting and I really wish you all the best with getting help. I am seeing another two doctors tomorrow and I am having chelation treatment at the moment to remove "toxins" as I say I'll try anything but so you dont waste your money chelation isnt working.
the best of luck to you and all of us who suffer.
P.S. please ignore all idiots who proclaim to be doctors and say "its all in your head" or "learn to live with it" hopefully you never encounter this breed they are dying off slowly by saying these things to the wrong patients. LOL
Avatar universal
EVERYTHING YOUR WROTE SOUNDS VERY FAMILIAR.  MY SISTER HAD EVERYTHING YOU'VE DESCRIBED INCLUDING THE ENLARGED PANCREASE. SHE HAD SPHINCTER OF ODDI DYSFUNCTION AND HAS HAD A PROCEDURE DONE TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM. TO SOON TO TELL IF IT WORKED.  SHE TOO CAME DOWN WITH BOUGHTS OF PANCREATIS.  HOPE THIS HELPS.  (HER DOC ALSO TRIED TO CALL IT GAS OR REFLUX AND PUT HER ON PREVACID.)
Avatar universal
I can only sit back and laugh right now...for 2 reasons...#1, My original GI physician asked me if I could live with this and #2 He put me on prevacid... I am going to see a new GI physician but not till Nov. 1. I really can't live with this and I will find out what is wrong. It is really amazing to me how many people have this same thing!!!
Avatar universal
I am seeing a Veterans Administration doctor for the same pain in my left side. He told me that it could be swelling of my colon. I have bee eating a litte bit more healthy. I eat allot of oatmeal and fiber. It seemed to take care of my problem. The doc told me some times lack of fiber in your diet can cause the the colon to enlarge. which can press against the rib cage.
Avatar universal
Hi there...I too, have been having upper left quadrant pain off and on since June.  Although it has gotten a little worse, and much more frequent over the past month.  I've been to my dr. a few times now...the first time thought it was a pulled muscle, the second time, took an abdominal xray, and said it was due to constipation, last week, I had chest and rib xrays (normal), blood work: sed rate (normal), cbc (normal), amylase (normal) and  LDH (hasn't come back yet).  In early August I had an abdominal ultrasound, everything was ok but I have another kidney stone in my left kidney.  Now later this week I go for a chest CT scan, which will show heart, lungs, blood vessels, lymph nodes, spleen, pancreas and liver.  I have a feeling now it has more with my colon, as I am getting this feeling on the right side too (but not as bad), and sometimes burning pain sensations as well, also back pains.  If the CT scan comes back normal, I'm going to tell my dr. I want a referral to a gastroenterologist...I'm tired of this pain and not feeling like myself!!!  Let me know if you find anything more out!!!!
Avatar universal
Elizabeth,  I was having the same type of pain, but more in my mid right back and under right shoulder and side.  Sometimes on left side of back and some burning pain in upper abdominal area.  I had all the same similar tests done while taking Prevacid.  The symptoms just seem to get worse and all tests were coming up normal and no H.Pylori was present.  I went for 2 years with this pain and taking Prevacid or Prilosec continuously.  The symptoms never went away.  I also felt the nausea and the pain worsened when hungry and after eating.  I found a doctor who told me that I have a peptic ulcer and the reason that I am feeling so much in my back is because of my small frame. (5'5" 114lbs)  He put me on Zantac and Carafate every 12 hours along with Claritin because I had a post nasal drip which he said was also irritating the ulcer.  I am also on a diet (no coffee, no smoking, no chocolates, no acidic or spicy foods such as orange juice, tomatoes/sauce - and definitely no milk or dairy products such as cheese)  all of these attribute to the pain.  I have only been on this for 3 days now and am feeling better than I have felt in years.  All the other doctors gave up on me and starting looking at me like a hypochondriac.  I am thankful to find out that I was allergic to those medications and that I was not going crazy!  I hope you have the same problem so you can get on with your life too.  Good luck.
Karen
Avatar universal
Elizabeth,

My thirteen year old son has complained of similar symptoms for the last two years.  He has constant pain in his upper left quadrandt and has bouts with nausea and vomiting.  He has had every diagnostic test there is including ERCP and finally exploratory surgery.  They can't find anything to link with his pain.  At times it is so severe he doubles over and sweats so badly he soaks his clothing.  He had pancreatitis that was probable brought on by the ERCP.  His enzyme levels were elevated for quite some time but are now at the high end of normal.  We are all quite frustrated and had one doctor tell him recently "to get over it and deal with it".  If anyone has any useful information for you or us, we would greatly apprecitae it.
Good luck on getting better.
Avatar universal
Hi, I am 33 yrs old, I have had uper left pain for about a year now and it's driving be crazy.  I have a very High tolerance for pain, but I just can't deal with it anymore.  I have chest pain, sometimes trouble getting enough air and swallowing.  I have severe stomach pains that last for hours, radiating all the wal to my neck and shoulders.  I've had blood work, xrays, EKG, treadmill test, echocardigram, they still don't know what it is.  I've been on prilosec,for over a year, combined with other drugs for ulcers, allong with prednizone, and now recently they put me on buspar, because they think it all in my head,(stress)  What do I do now?
Avatar universal
Hi, I too have suffered with this similar pain.  I was just rediagnosed with diverticular disease.  I had a portion of my colon removed a year and a half ago, they thought they removed all of the damaged colon.  After a Gastriographennema and a CAT Scan it was determined that my colon is riddled with diverticulitis.  I go in for surgery this Friday to have another section of the colon removed.   You may want to ask your MD to test for this common disease.  Good Luck
Tracy Laigle
***@****
Avatar universal
I have had upper left quadrant pain since March of this year. It started with a feeling of fullness and tightness in that area. It then graduated to stabbing and grabbing pains in that area. At this time, I also have pain in the left shoulder with it and sometimes in the left groin area. There have been some days and a week in August where I felt almost back to normal, but it always comes back. I have had an X-ray, abdominal ultrasound, hida scan, blood work, and endoscopy. The ultrasound showed gallstones and the hida scan showed that my gall bladder empties slowly, but my current doctor does not think it's a gall bladder problem because the pain and discomfort is  on my left side (gall bladder is on right). It just mystifies me that as bad and uncomfortable as this pain is, the tests don't show anything.
Avatar universal
Tracy,

I always thought Diverticulitis was lower left quadrant pain. Was your pain upper left (near the ribs) or lower than that?
Avatar universal
I have had the very same pain for months now.  I also had pain on my right side.  I saw my family doctor who referred me to a specialist who told me that I had a gallstone and possibly fatty liver.  They removed my gall bladder and biopsied my liver and confirmed the fatty liver.  It has been two weeks since my surgery and I still have the pain on both sides.  I see my surgeon in two days and I hope he can answer my questions.  The specialist said that whatever was causing the pain on my right side could "possibly" be causing the pain on my right side.  The pain I feel on my right side is right under my ribs and when it is bad enough I feel it in my back also.  If I find out anything in a couple days, I will post it.  There is also the possibility that I am diabetic.  What or if this has anything to do with the pain, I don't know.
Avatar universal
Originally it was lower quadrant.  They removed the sigmoid colon.  After about 6 months I started having severe pain in upper left quadrant, as well as diareahea, low grade fever, and occasional blood in stool.  Had a colonscopy done and it showed diverticuli, but they didn't think it was inflamed.  Months went by and after being on pain meds for all of this time and numerous tests...... they finally did the gastroigrph and it showed that the left and transverse side of the colon were riddled with diverticuli.....  so here we go again...I go in this Friday to have the left side and the transverse removed.  hope this helps you out,,....I know how frustrating it is!!!  You begin to think it is all in your head.........but that pain is real......
Good luck!!!
Tracy
Avatar universal
Dear Elizabeth,
I am just finding out what complete idiots doctors really are.  When they do not know something, they either ignore it, give it little effort and attention, or send you to a psychologist because it simply must be all in your head.  I am dealing with a 10 year old child right now who has constant pain in the abdomen and the left side, for 10 months now, and I have heard the awfullest bunch of garbage in the world, with still no answers.  I have been through this with physicians before, and it was three years before they figured out what my medical condition was.  None of them was standding in line to offer an apology for all of their ignorant comments, degrading remarks and lack of help, either.
I wish you lots of luck with finding out about your problem.  Be VERY wary of doctors, they know a lot less than we think they do, and most of them are to proud to admit that.  Also, the more remote area you live in, the less your chances are, too.  Don't ever come the the good-for-nothing state of Tennessee to get help-these doctors would see a person die first.
Avatar universal
Dear Lela,
    I don't have any help to offer but what you've described is exactly what I've been going through. I had acute pancreatitis brought on by an ERCP but other than that it has been left upper quadrant pain that goes into my back. My amylase and lipase are still elevated but nothing drastic. I really feel like someone is missing something. My pain is usually about a 3-4 on the pain scale but sometimes it really flares up and is about a 15 :) If you get anything figures out let me know.
                                   Elizabeth
Avatar universal
Dear Betsy,

It sounds as if you have had a bad experience with doctors.  My 13 year old son has been in pain for two years now with every test they can think of with absolutely no results.  He had pancreatitis, most likely brought on by an ERCP.  The pain never goes away and he his nauseous and vomits frequently.  He misses a great deal of school with this and turns down social invitations because he doesn't want to be "sick" away from home.

Has anyone ever heard of chronic pancreatitis with enzyme levels in the high end of normal? His pain is in his upper left abdomine and at times wraps around to his back.  The pain never goes away and sometimes peaks at a 8 or 9 on a scale of 1 - 10.  He has just started to see a physcologist that specializes in chronic pain.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Good luck to your daughter.
Avatar universal
Did you ever think it was or rule out Gall Stones. I have these simptoms and DR thinnks that is the problem. Getting tested soon.
I hope that is it. Easy to get rid of.
Avatar universal
Colleen,
I have been dealing with pain in my upper left side for 1 1/2 years now along with a breathing problem. Every time I eat the pain gets worse. It feels so heavy on that side. It seems like I can almost feel the food go right through my intestines. When I take deep breaths it hurts on that side. I have had chest x-rays Cat-Scan, Pft's Asthma tests. I keep telling the doctors that my lungs don't hurt. It hurts in my left side and all I get is that it's in my head. That my brain is making my body do it some how.
I don't believe it. All my tests were normal. Yet my side still throbs and keeps me up at night. This pain also goes into my left side of my neck and shoulder. I sure wish I could find a doctor that would just fix it and stop telling me it's in my head. I use to so active. This has stopped me in my tracks. I have 4 children and use to work full time, now I have even quit my job. Please !!! If anyone figures it out let me know.
Avatar universal
Colleen,
I have been dealing with pain in my upper left side for 1 1/2 years now along with a breathing problem. Every time I eat the pain gets worse. It feels so heavy on that side. It seems like I can almost feel the food go right through my intestines. When I take deep breaths it hurts on that side. I have had chest x-rays Cat-Scan, Pft's Asthma tests. I keep telling the doctors that my lungs don't hurt. It hurts in my left side and all I get is that it's in my head. That my brain is making my body do it some how.
I don't believe it. All my tests were normal. Yet my side still throbs and keeps me up at night. This pain also goes into my left side of my neck and shoulder. I sure wish I could find a doctor that would just fix it and stop telling me it's in my head. I use to so active. This has stopped me in my tracks. I have 4 children and use to work full time, now I have even quit my job. Please !!! If anyone figures it out let me know.
Avatar universal
Thank goodness! I was starting to think it was just me. Same symptoms, left upper quad pain, right at my ribs. There all the time, but significantly worse after eating. I've tried eating smaller meals-no help. I'm about ready to go off solid food and see if just taking liquids helps. I wonder if this isn't a motility problem, since the pain becomes worse within minutes after eating. I see from the postings there doesn't seem to be much help!
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