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Severe pain under right rib cage

My grandmother has been suffering with severe right side pain under her right rib cage for the past 5 weeks.  She describes it as sharp unbearable pain that takes her breath away.  It is the only symptom she is having.  The pain started about 5 weeks ago was really severe then subsided.  2 weeks later the pain came back and has not went away and is very severe.  She can't talk at times she gets very short of breath and feels as if she is dying.  It normally only hurts at times of movement or when lying down.  What could be causing this pain?
5 Responses
655875 tn?1295698707
It very well could be her gallbladder.  Either she has stones or her gallbladder stopped working.  My pain was so bad that I fell to the floor and got the wind knocked out of me.

I had these exact same symptoms and it took the doctors over 3 months to figure this out.  Once I had the HIDA scan, it showed that my gallbladder stopped working.  I had the surgery and now the pain is gone.  

It wasn't until the HIDA scan before they figured out what was wrong.  I had many other tests that were coming back normal.  
Avatar universal
I thought that may be what it is but she doesn't have any other symptoms other than the pain.  We are all just very worried because the has COPD and emphysema and its already hard for her to breath and now with this pain she can't hardly get the breath the get out of bed.
655875 tn?1295698707
Pain was the only symptoms I had also.  It wasn't because of the foods I was eating.  I was curled up in a ball on the couch and my mother had to come over and take care of my kids for me.  The kids were pretty young and needed a lot of care.  Hopefully the doctors will take care of your grandmother right away.  You may want to mention the HIDA scan.  It's a two hour scan, but it will show exactly how the gallbladder is working.  Good luck to your grandma.
547368 tn?1440545385
Hello D,

Welcome to the Pain Management Forum. I am glad that you found us but so sorry to hear about your grandmother. She is fortunate to have your concern and love.

Runningmom is correct. Pain can be the only symptom of gallbladder disease or stones in the gallbladder. Stones will cause the symptoms to come and go within several hours. Surgery called a cholecystectomy will immediately "cure" this pain and problem. It is often done laparoscopically.

Because of your grandmother's age there are other factors that could be causing this pain. I hope she has seen her PCP for evaluation of her symptoms.

This could also be a gastric problem, the two organ are close together and unless diagnostic tests are preformed it is difficult to determine what the real cause may be.

Esophageal Spasms can also cause extreme pain in the general area you describe along with having very similar symptoms.  

Pancreatitis is inflammation or infection of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland located just behind the stomach. It can also produce the type of pain your grandmother is experiencing.

I urge you to have her pain investigated. At her age I am not sure what treatment options may be available but she certainly does not have to bear this horrid pain. And obvious the first concern is the source of her pain....followed by proper treatment.  Please let us know how she is doing. I will look forward to your updates. Bless your heart for being there for her.

Best of Luck to You and Your Grandmother,
~Tuck
Avatar universal
I hope you get your grandmother to the doctor soon.  That pain could be so very many different things.  In light of her age and her medical history, she really needs to be seen sooner rather than later.

Please let us know what happens.  She is very lucky to have you looking out for her.  I take care of my dad, and sometimes at medical appointments I see elderly patients waiting for a cab because they have no one to take them to their appointments.  That is so sad for me to see.
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