The primary role of the rib cage is to protect important organs and tissues in the thoracic cavity, the chest and within the abdominal region. An increasing number of people have reported experiencing pain under left rib cage at some point in their lives. This pain may be associated with various causes. The rib cage, chest and abdominal regions are also susceptible to various injuries, which may lead to a varying degree of discomfort.

What Causes Pain Left Side Under Ribs?

Many people panic when they experience pain in left side under ribs because they assume that it is a heart problem. While this may be the cause, there are various other conditions which may lead to this problem.


In most cases, indigestion is caused by taking too much food. Because there is much food in the digestive system, the system automatically slows down leading to slow digestion. Owing to the slow digestion process, gases get trapped and accumulate in the colon. These trapped gases cause a pressure to buildup in the digestive system, hence the pain in the left rib cage.

Pneumothorax, a condition similar to gas trapping, can also cause pain left side under ribs. In this case, air is trapped between the ribs and the lungs. This occurs when the lungs collapse due to a rupture of the lung membrane.


Acid Reflux

As the name suggests, acid reflux is caused by excessive intake of acidic foods and beverages. This acid builds up in the digestive system leads to heartburn or acid reflux. The condition is characterized by a sharp pain in the thorax. Many people tend to confuse this pain with a heart condition.


Kidney Stones

This is another common cause of pain left side under ribs. The condition may occur multiple times in one individual. kidney stones may affect either kidney. As such, the pain is experienced on the side of the kidney that is affected by the condition. 

Pain associated with this condition normally starts from the back and gradually shifts to the front. If you experience this kind of pain, you should see a doctor immediately for diagnosis and proper treatment.



Pancreatitis is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the pancreas. Patients suffering from this condition experience medium to severe pain in left side under ribs. In some cases, this pain tends to radiate to the back. Eating and drinking tend to worsen the pain associated with this condition. Other conditions associated with this condition are nausea, vomiting and fever.



This is another condition that may cause pain in the thoracic cavity. It is caused by a viral infection in the cartilages in the breastbone. The pain causes the patient to think that he or she is experiencing a heart attack while the real pain is under the rib cage. As such, if you experience pain left side under ribs, it is advisable to go for a checkup to ascertain the cause.


Spleen Damage

The spleen is an organ situated on the upper part of the abdomen. The main function of the spleen is to filtrate and regulate red blood cells. Pain in left side under ribs can be caused by a problem with the pancreas. 

For instance, an enlarged or ruptured spleen can lead to immense pain under the left rib cage. This pain can gradually shift to the back and shoulders. Patients suffering from leukemia, splenomegaly or asplenia should visit a doctor immediately if they experience pain under the ribs on the left side.


Rib Damage

A broken rib will not only cause severe pain on rib cage, but will also interfere with regular movements of the patient. As a result, an individual with a broken rib will be unable to move around due to the pain and discomfort. Rib damage is normally caused by external trauma, especially blunt force trauma. In some cases, this damage is accompanied by visible signs of bruising on the surface.


Respiratory Disorders

A disorder in the lungs and the surrounding structures can lead to pain in the rib cage too. For instance, inflammation of the lung linings can lead to severe pain under the rib cage. Additionally, respiratory infections, including pneumonia, pleural effusion, pleurisy, tuberculosis, lung cancer and penumothorax may also cause this pain. Such conditions are associated with pain left side under ribs. The pain is worsened by coughing.


Angina Pectoris or Heart Attach

It is not good to ignore pain under the rib cage, especially the left side. Some of this stabbing or sharp pain may be associated with a heart attack or angina pectoris. Such cases need to be attended to immediately. Therefore, it is good to get diagnosed if you experience pain under the rib cage.

How to Manage the Pain Left Side Under Rids

Depending on what is causing this pain under left rib cage, there are various remedies that may be used to relieve the pain and cure what is causing the pain. Since there are many types of pains, many people may be confused about the appropriate medication for the pain. The following are some of the treatments that may be used to cure this condition.


This remedy is mostly used for the serious cases.  For instance, if the pain left side under ribs is a result of a broken rib or ruptured spleen, you may have to undergo a surgery to remedy the problem, failure to which then the problem will only worsen.



Other problems that cause pain under the rib cage may require some form of medication. Pain in the rib cage as a result of muscle pains or a digestive problem may be eased by taking medication.


Dietary Changes

Pain under the rib cage may be caused by acid reflux or indigestion. As such, a simple change in the diet can go a long way in solving the problem. For instance, you may avoid foods that are hard to digest to solve the indigestion problem or avoid acidic beverages to prevent acid reflux. Both of these will help in alleviating pain under the rib cage.


Do Not Hesitate to See a Doctor

Although various medications may be used to ease the pain, the best thing to do the moment you experience pain left side under ribs is to visit a good doctor for diagnosis. This will not only ascertain the real cause of the problem but also help in determining the most appropriate cure for it. In some instances, the pain will keep on recurring after a while. Therefore, the best thing is to consult a medical doctor to solve the problem once and for all.


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