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Sharp pain under rib cage while breathing or bending. Any treatment?

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Emergency Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2006
Answered : 300 Questions
I am having sharp pain under left rib cage. I hurts worse when I breath XXXXXXX or bend.
Posted Tue, 26 Feb 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sheeba Stephen 3 hours later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

The likely causes for a sharp pain below the left side of the rib cage are:

1) Acute pancreatitis - inflammation / infection of the pancreas gland.

2) Pleuritis - inflammation of the covering layer of the lungs. If the pleura around the left lower lobe of the lung is involved, then this can also cause your symptoms.

3) Gastric or duodenal ulcer

4) Muscle pull or strain - upper abdominal wall muscles can sometimes get pulled or strained inadvertently and can cause sharp pain, which worsens on breathing or bending down.

5) A splenic enlargement or abscess

6) A sub-phrenic abscess - i.e. a collection of pus below the diaphragm

Since it is an acute and sharp pain, I think it should be taken seriously. I would advise you to have a proper medical examination done, and if necessary, relevant investigations done, in order to ascertain the exact cause of your problem. Till you see a doctor, drink plenty of water, take rest and don't exert yourself. If the pain is severe, you can take an pain killer like Ibuprofen (Advil) for the time being.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Sheeba Stephen
Emergency Medicine Specialist
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