Causes of Pain Under Left Rib and Back

What causes pain under left rib and back? What is it a sign of? Is it a serious situation? Do you need to see a doctor? What to do to pass? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

Pain under left rib and back: General information

Your rib cage (ribs) consists of 24 ribs, 12 on the right and 12 on the left of your body. Their task is to protect the organs located below them. On the left, this includes the heart, left lung, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and left kidney. When any of these organs becomes infected, inflamed, or injured, pain can occur under the left rib and in the back. The pain can also radiate to different parts of the body.

Along with back pain , pain under the left rib may feel sharp and stabbing, or it may be dull and achy, depending on the cause. In most cases, pain under the left rib and back is caused by a benign, treatable condition.

Pain under left rib and back: Causes


Costochondritis refers to inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone. This can happen for a number of reasons such as:

  • Infection
  • physical injury
  • Arthritis (calcification)

Costochondritis can cause pain under the left rib and back. The pain felt can be severe, stabbing, and may spread to different areas. The pain gets worse when you cough, sneeze, or press on your ribs.


The pancreas is a gland located in the upper left part of the body near the small intestine. It secretes enzymes and digestive juices into the small intestine to help break down food. Pancreatitis means inflammation of your pancreas. Causes of pancreatitis can be:

  • Damage to the pancreas
  • Excessive alcohol use (alcoholism)
  • gallstones

The pain caused by pancreatitis usually starts slowly and intensifies after eating. It can come and go or be constant. Other than pain under the left rib and back, additional symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • weight loss

Ruptured spleen or spleen infection

Your spleen is located on the upper left side of your body, near your rib cage. It helps remove old or damaged blood cells and produce infection-fighting white cells.

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An enlarged spleen , also called splenomegaly , usually does not give any symptoms other than fullness, even after eating a small amount of food. However, if your spleen ruptures, you will likely feel pain near your left rib cage. An enlarged spleen is more likely to rupture than a normal-sized spleen. When such a problem occurs, you may also feel pain under the left rib and back.

Various things can cause an enlarged spleen, including:

  • Viral infections such as mononucleosis
  • Bacterial infections such as syphilis (syphilis)
  • Parasitic infections such as malaria
  • blood diseases
  • Liver diseases

If your spleen is ruptured, the area may become tender when you touch it. You may also experience the following in such a situation:

  • low blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • Nausea

Spleen rupture most commonly occurs as a result of trauma. This is a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.

With an infarction of the spleen, you may experience pain on the left side of your rib cage. Spleen infarctions are rare conditions in which part of the spleen necrotizes or “dies”. This happens when blood flow is compromised, usually as a result of trauma or artery blockages.


Gastritis also means inflammation of the lining of your stomach, which is near the left side of your rib cage. Other symptoms of gastritis include a heartburn -like pain and an uncomfortable feeling of fullness in your upper abdomen. Gastritis can also be felt as pain under the left rib and back, although it is rare.

Gastritis can be caused by:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Overuse of certain drugs
  • excessive alcohol consumption

kidney stone or infection

The kidneys are part of your urinary system. They are located on both sides of your spine, but when they are inflamed or infected, the pain can radiate to the front as well. When your left kidney is affected by this condition, you are also likely to experience pain under the left rib and back.

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Kidney stones are hardened calcium and salt deposits that turn into stones. They can cause a cramping pain as they travel out of your kidneys and into your bladderIn addition to pain in the left rib, kidney stones can also cause:

  • Unnecessary urge to urinate
  • blood in the urine
  • cloudy urine
  • Forward spreading of pain in the flanks

Kidney infections occur when bacteria from your urinary tract enter your kidneys. Anything that blocks your urine flow, including kidney stones, can cause a kidney infection. Additional symptoms of kidney infection include the following.

  • Fire
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Your heart is surrounded by a fluid-filled sac called the pericardium . Pericarditis refers to inflammation of this sac. When inflamed, it can rub against your heart, causing pain near your left ribs. The pain may be a dull ache or a stabbing pain that is usually worse when lying down.

Researchers are not sure why this happens, but possible causes include:

  • Infection
  • injury
  • blood thinners
  • anti-seizure medications


Pleurisy is a condition in which the tissue lining the lungs becomes inflamed. This can occur as a result of bacterial, viral, or fungal pneumonia, malignancy, trauma, or pulmonary infarction, usually associated with a blood clot in the lung.

Left-sided pleurisy can cause pain under the left rib and back. But the main symptom is a sharp, stabbing pain when breathing in (chest pain when breathing in ). It is recommended that you see a doctor if you experience severe chest pain while breathing.

Pain under left rib and back: diagnosis

To understand what is causing the pain under the left rib and back, your doctor will give you a physical examination, which includes feeling the affected area. This will help them check for any signs of swelling or inflammation , especially due to costochondritis .

If your doctor suspects that the pain may be caused by a heart problem, your doctor may use an electrocardiogram to measure the electrical activity in your heart . This will help rule out any serious underlying conditions.

Next, they may take blood and urine samples for testing . Analyzing these results can alert your doctor to signs of kidney problems, pancreatitis or gastritis. If your doctor suspects you have gastritis, they may take a stool sample or use an endoscope to look at your stomach lining . An endoscope is a long, flexible tube with a camera at the end that is inserted through your mouth.

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If the cause of your pain under the left rib and back is still unclear, you may need an X-ray , CT scan , or MRI . These imaging procedures will give your doctor a better view of your organs and areas of inflammation that did not show up during a physical exam.

Pain under left rib and back: Treatment

Treating the problem of pain under the left rib and back depends on what is causing it. If it’s about any type of inflammation, your doctor will likely suggest you take a few medications to reduce pain and swelling.

In some cases, you may need an antibiotic to clear up a bacterial infection . In rare cases, surgery may be required. For example, if a kidney stone is too large to pass through your body on its own, your doctor may need to surgically remove it.

Pain under left rib and back: Warning signs

While pain under the left rib and back is usually nothing serious, it can sometimes signal a medical emergency.

If, in addition to pain in your left ribcage and back, you have any of the following, it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention:

  • difficulty breathing
  • mental confusion
  • excessive sweating
  • dizziness

As a result

Given the number of organs in the upper left part of your body, it is not uncommon to feel pain under the left rib and in the back . It can often be caused by an easily treatable condition. However, if you have pain in this area that is severe, worsens over time, lasts for more than 24 hours, or is associated with any of the above serious symptoms, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention to rule out any underlying condition.

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