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Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Forum
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Avatar universal

pain in left side under rib cage

I have had so many problems in the last couple months that I really don't know where to start.  My latest is a pain in my front upper left side right below my rib cage.  It's not constant and it's not a bad pain but just enough to bother me and worry me.  I am also having bad lower back pain that comes and goes.  I have had changes in bowel movements going back and forth from constipation to loose stools.  I recently starting having dizziness on and off throughout the day but the doctor thinks it's an inner ear infection.  I woke up this morning with nausea but it's hard to tell if it's related or just nerves.  I also lose weight in spurts, just recently another 7 pounds.  In July the doctor noticed my thyroid was swollen but tests show nothing and that is not even an issue at the time.  I also had an abnormal pap in July (ASCUS) but have recently had a repeat that was normal.  I just turned 30 in July and it has been one thing after another ever since.  Does anyone have any ideas on the pain in my left side?  I will start a journal to see if there is a pattern but it doesn't seem to be.
Thanks!!!!!!!
80 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi  clover91.  I know how you feel.  I am 33 and since September, I have been having one thing after another.  And the symptoms, like yours, go from one end to another.  I can't understand it.  But, enough about me.  Are you taking any medication, and how long have you been taking it?
Avatar universal
I'm not on any medication except penicillin which I am taking because I had strep about a week ago.  The pain switches from upper left side to about mid left side to middle (belly button area).  It's not constant or extreme pain but like an annoying ache or dull pain.  I explain it as twitches or twinges of pain.  I'm sorry your having problems too but it's comforting to hear that I'm not alone.  Everyone thinks I'm crazy but it's not my imagination.  I really am having problems.  I'm so tired of going to the doctor and I feel like I complain too much.  Any ideas?  Have you seen a doctor with an answers?  I had red blood cells checked for anemia or infection and they were fine.  I had an iron test that did come back a little low.  It's at 52 when normal starts at 40.  My most recent thyroid test was also okay.
Avatar universal
Hi,
You may want to look at some earlier posts on the board re: pancreatitis (or other pancreas-related problems).
I've sporadically experienced the dull, left sided pain for over five years now. About five months ago, a week before my 28th birthday, the left-sided pain returned, this time accompanied by severe fatigue, lower back/hip/flank pain that persisted almost two weeks, floating stools, and gas pains. My doctor checked my amylase and lipase and gave me a Spiral CT, thinking it was pancreas related. The blood work came back normal as did the CT. The symptoms continue(d). I was referred to a gastro doctor, who explained that if I'd been experiencing recurrences of mild pancreatic problems/insufficiency, my amylase/lipase wouldn't necessarily appear abnormal. I also learned that, despite being one of the best diagnostic imaging test, a spiral CT often misses pancreatic cysts, lesions, etc because of how 'hidden' the pancreas is in the body. So, now I'm being put on various medications, hoping someone consents to an MRCP or ERCP to find out what's really going on in there, and the left-sided ache, gas, floating stool, and occasional short, sharp pains below the sternum have become everyday. I've found that keeping my diet beneath 25 grams of fat daily and drinking a lot of water really help.
Take a few minutes and look around on www.google.com, might help you narrow down your symptoms, and again, this board is a great resource.
Important though, if you even suspect it may be pancreas-related after reading all of the info and stories, don't drink any alcohol, at all.
As you'll see from other postings, it's not easy convincing a doctor to even consider the pancreas as the source of a problem, unless you're actually turning yellow, vomiting bile and losing weight in front of his/her face. This goes double when you're 30 or younger. I've found it's helped me immeasurably to educate myself on the possible problems, what my symptoms may mean, and to go in prepared with questions and requests for various tests. If they say no, time to go to the next doctor.
Good luck!
Avatar universal
I have seen a Dr.  I have been to both my  reg. MD and to the Gastro Dr.  The reason I asked if you were taking any medicine is that I was on PPI's  for what they say is reflux and it made me hurt like that.  I know what you mean about talking with the Dr.  I am almost afraid to mention that I have been having cloudy urine because that has nothing (at least I don't think so) to do with all of the other problems that I have been having.  I have also been having a lot of sinus stuff going on.  I did get an antibiotic last week for that which really helped.  But all of these are problems that I have never had before.  I have never had any medical problems.  So it is hard to understand.   I check this board several times a day, looking for answers.  I hope you get to feeling better.  No one has ever mentioned pancreatic problems to me.
Avatar universal
A possible explanation for the back pains...If you find yourself arching your back to relieve pain in your abdomen (as I do), the constant and unconcious clenching of the back and rib muscles may be sharp fatigue pains.
Avatar universal
Do you notice a connection with the upper left side discomfort occuring when you have episodes of constipation (or if you've eaten a large meal the day before or are having gas)? The colon makes a turn from across your back to down your left side at that area and the discomfort could be due to gas or hard stool. Try drinking more water and including more fiber in your diet. The dizziness could be due to dehydration (from your episodes of diarrhea.
Has your doctor ruled out Irritable Bowel Syndrom? It may be helpful to read other posts about this disorder to see if your symptoms are simular. Take care.
Avatar universal
Thank you everyone.  All of your comments have really helped ease my mind.  The pain does seem to get worse or better depending on meals and bowel movements.  I have actually felt pretty good the past couple days.  I do believe the dizziness might be related.  I have noticed that I am always thirsty.  I've been drinking a lot of fluids the past couple days and have felt very little dizziness.  The pains were also gone until today but it has been mild followed by constipation.  I have a lot of the symptoms of IBS so I am waiting another week, keeping track of my symptoms, patterns and going back to my doctor.
Thanks again everyone for your information.
Avatar universal
I am 60 years old and never had medical problems in my life.  Over the last few years I've become a solid pain.  Meaning my neck, my arms, my back, my legs, in other words everything hurts.  The worst seems to be my left side of my rib cage.  I've had quite a few severe attacks that have sent me to the floor in agonizing pain.  I can't move or get up tell it is gone.  I cry and scream it hurts so bad. Like someone just plunged a knife in.  The burning around my rib cage is constant whether I eat or not.  I am a vegitarian, so I don't eat fat of any kind.  I love chocolate but when I eat it I'm in for an attack.  My Doctor has diagnoed me with Fibromyalgia and IBS. I've had all the tests, Ultra sound, MRI, Up scope and down scope and blood tests.  I take Vioxx, Zoloft and Trazodone.  Love to hear from someone with help or comments.  Thank you....Kay
Avatar universal
Hello mas77!!
Ive ben living with same kind of symptoms as you for 4 years...i feel something is wrong.Doctors use to tell me i have irritable bowel syndrome.And on other things such as pain in my upper left side they just close their eyes.I am absolutely agree with you-doctors are different!!! And of course its not enough for them if you tell what you feel,unless you are bleeding or change the  colour of your skin!!(lol its so true!!!)
I am going to see my doctor tomorrow,and before im gonna prepare a list of tests of what I would like to do!! Because they are dont care much!!
Avatar universal
Hi...saw a new Doctor last week.  I told her what I've told 5 different Doctors over the last two years.  Two years ago I had a Flu shot, that left me with the Flu for a month and the Rib cage burning and pains.  I always felt I  might have a Virus.My new Doctor put me on Valtrex to fight a Virus infection.  I have started to feel less burning and pain.  I'll be taking it for a month and then I will let you know how I feel. Thanks for your support.
Avatar universal
Important! Did you ever find a cause of your symptoms. Mine are identical to your question on Dec-20-02. Hope its not bad. Mine started with prostatitis, then gastritis. Think it is Systemic Candida. Can affect digestion-pancreas, etc. Good luck getting a test done- A nutritionalist can order a stool kit through GSDL(Great Smokies diagnostic lab). They must have an account though. Please respond ASAP as I am very ill. Thanks
Avatar universal
Important! Did you ever find a cause of your symptoms. Mine are identical to your question on Dec-20-02. Hope its not bad. Mine started with prostatitis, then gastritis. Think it is Systemic Candida. Can affect digestion-pancreas, etc. Good luck getting a test done- A nutritionalist can order a stool kit through GSDL(Great Smokies diagnostic lab). They must have an account though. Please respond ASAP as I am very ill. Thanks
Avatar universal
I get the same pain and is very uncomfortable in any position i sit or lay down. Yesterday was one of those days. It seems to me that it triggers when i eat spices. My gastro and Regular Dr. has diagnosed me with IBS and Gastritis. The pain is caused by gastritis. Lately I have stopped eating foods that can cause this pain along with what i drink, like soda. I suggest you go to your doctor and get a referral out to a gastro. Take malox it might help...it does for me. I hope you get better cause it's an ugly discomfort.

latebloomer
Avatar universal
I'm glad I'm not the only one.  I spent last night in the ER crying from the pain in my left side. I also have gas, bloating, heartburn and alternate between contipation and very soft stools.  But a CAT scan and blood work were all fine.  I've had this in cycles for years and the doctors just shrug their shoulders, and shake their heads then they offer me pain killers. But those make me really sick so I won't take them.

I had a medical intuitive tell me that I had a cyst on my pancreas that was exacerbated by the alkaloids in cocoa. I did quit eating anything with chocolate and cocoa and it got better for a while but it's back.

Has anyone ever tried an acupuncturist for this?  I was thinking of giving it a try since half a dozen MDs have failed to find any solutions.

What tests should I ask for next time I go to the doctor? I have a followup on the 14th and would like to offer some ideas (if he'll listen).

Thank you for any suggestions.
K
Avatar universal
I was reading the symptoms that everyone is experiencing here and wanted to say that I too have the upper left side abdominal pain that doctors are refferring to as IBS.  I have been prescribed Zantec for reflux problems.  I noticed that my symptoms come on when I ovulate.  I almost feel like I have appendicitis.  I take Ibprophen and it relieves the pain.  It usually last a day.  I get my cycle a week later and when it is ending the pain returns for a day.  I have all the other symptoms described above and have noticed that my diet reflects on the pain.  I was wondering if anyone else has noticed any simularities when they ovulate?  I have recently had my tubes tied.  I sure hope everyone is feeling better.  I am 34 years old and this has been going on for a while now.  I have been tested for everything, and it all is normal.  I just feel like it is not right.  I might also mention that I have had my gall bladder removed when I was 23 years old so I have an extra sensitive stomach this might have an influence on my stomach problems.  Thanks!!
Avatar universal
I was so amazed to find this place with all the same symptons I have.........I can't even work, I get so sick....and then that makes my stress level worse, cuz I lose money, not enough sick leave........been going on like this for 3 weeks, and nothing from the docs are helping,,,,they did a gallbladder scan and found nothing..........monday they are going to do a Hiata Scan.....which I have no idea what that is........tried my hardest to work monday , tuesday, wednesday........but, by wednesday nite I nearly collasped (so nauseated, sharp pain in upper adominal and left side, and sharp pain in lower back shooting down my legs, my legs felt so weak.......so, went home early from work.......going back to the doc tommorrow to beg for HELP........I can't take all this misery no more!!!
Avatar universal
I am responding to C8 Nana K
(11-Jan-03).

Yes I have something nearly identical.
Go to a chiropracter and ask them to examine your back. I am working through this right now and yes I know how bad it can be. One possibilty (and I think a strong one) is that one set of oblique muscles has become a little weaker than the other. Possible Result: The other set of obliques is giving a slight twist and pull to your spine which causes a pain that wraps around the rip cage.  The muscles can be aggrevated so BE CAREFUL! Talk to a chriopractor, ask about the spine, prarticularly in the thoracic region and ask for specific exercises to strengthen some of your muscles. If he tells you to do any exercises, let me know which ones.  Your pelvis will be slightly out too. I am looking for a way out too, I'll let you know if this works or not.

Please contact me directly:
***@****
Avatar universal
I was hoping to see if anyone's doctor came up with a solid diagnostic for this type of symptom. I got the shoulder shrug as well. Mine is not necessairly pain, but feels like I have a bowling ball sitting right on top of my stomach or has a rubber band wrapped around it just right below the rib cage. It comes and goes, had it for years and years, and every gastro MD I have visited has given me the shoulder shrug after tests come back negative.
Usually if i sleep on my stomach or press on it with my forearm, it feels better. The ONLY RX that has ever made it feel better is Librax.
I'll keep looking for more posts to see if someone's doctor comes up with a Eurkia!

jp
Avatar universal
I have been reading your posts and I have very very similar symptoms. The past few weeks I have been experiencing a sort of sharp pain under my left ribcage. It feels like it is just below the ribcage, but just slightly under. I noticed sometimes too that I get this pain a short while after I eat something.(maybe its not related?) Sometimes the pain is just an annoying dull sort of pain that is uncomfortable and sometimes it is very very sharp and hurts very bad. It almost feels sometimes like my left side under my rib is swollen or bloated. I noticed a few days ago that on two occasions that I can remember, the pain came just awhile after I ate. Last week when it was very very painful it was just after I ate a mandarin orange crepe (which is just oranges and vanilla ice cream) and some tea.

I have no clue whatsoever as to why this pain has started. Does anyone know what tests I would need to ask to have done to try to see what is wrong? I would like to tell my doctor which tests I want done, because otherwise I will be sent home after being told im probably fine and with some silly prescription that will do nothing to help.

Any help would be appreciated!

Avatar universal
I had the same problem and it was my stomach flipping up under my rib cage...a chiropractor figured out and corrected the problem for me..
Avatar universal
Oh my god.. Read this, im doubled over in pain over my keyboard. It sucks so bad. Its pain in my left side under my rib cage. It almost feels as if i have gas but gas should NEVER hurt this bad. Ive been having it off and on for a few weeks now and i just dont know what to do about it. I cant even see my dr right now because lack of money. My lower back has been killing me along with my stomach. When i walk alot, its my right side under my rib cage that hurts alot. I dont understand it. It makes me feel as if someone is stabbing me in the stomach with an ice pick. I hate it.. If anyone has anything they can tell me, please email me at california_carter***@**** thank you so much.

Krys
Avatar universal
I have had the same kind of pain in my left side in the rib cage area that radiates from back to front. If I press on it, there is some relief but it is very difficult to walk or sit as the pain is pretty intense. It comes on without warning and seems to last from 2-6 hours at a time. I used to think it was mucsle pain and went to a chiropractor. I am not sure whether it helped or not and eventually stopped going. I had CT scans of the thoracic region and nothing appeared abnormal. Some of you have mentioned colon and IBS issues associated with the pain. I also think this could be a problem as I fluctuate between constipation and diarrhea with sometimes other distress in the bowels. There is probably no miracle cure but if we could at least discover a name or cause for this disorder, I certainly would feel a little less stressed out over it. I even suspected a pancratic problem but I have no other symptoms that could tie it to that problem except the pain. I will keep checking this forum for future comments.
Avatar universal
I have had similar pain for 6 months.  burning, gnawing pain that comes mostly after eating along with sharp pain in one spot...all on my left side.  i had an endoscopy, Cat Scan, Ultrasound, MRI and DecidaScan...all normal.  the only thing i have had abnormal so far is my Lipase Level.  but it is only slightly elevated.  so my doctor is thinking MAYBE chronic pancreatitis which is so hard because now i am terrified i have chronic pancreatitis.  I am 28 and have lost close to 15 pounds...putting me quite underweight.  I am terrified of the pancreatitis and at a loss.  my doctor too is shrugging his shoulders and keeps trying to put me on pancreatic enzymes which make me sick.  a friend of the family stil swears it is my gall bladder even though the gall bladder scan was normal.  anyway, I empathize.  I am in pain every day, trying to work, and afraid of what is wrong.  any input is appreciated.
Avatar universal
Maybe you should check into having your gall bladder checked out. I have been having the same problems. I know the gall bladder is on your right side, but it can cause allot of pain on the left side. My doc said they play off of each other. I am having sharp pains under my left breast which would be my upper abdomen, under my armpit, down my left arm, around my chest area, trouble breathing,  in between my shoulder blades, and my lower back. Also getting the dizziness. Just had a hide a scan done and they tell me my gall bladder is not functioning properly. Need to have it removed. I have been to chiropractors, physical therapist, and had about a thousand tests done. And finally we came to this conclusion. Hopefully the surgery takes care of the problem. I will keep you posted if you like. I am just so glad to hear that i am not the only person who feels like they are going crazy. Hopefull there is an end to all these problems. Hopefully this helped some of you people out.
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