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Pain under the rib cage, abdominal pain, pain while breathing. Need immediate care?

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Practicing since : 2002
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I am 30 years old, 5'7" tall, 132 lbs and have been generally healthy my whole life. In the past few months I have been experiencing sharp pain under my left rib cage that radiates to my left shoulder and around to my middle back and down to my lower left abdomen area. sometimes it becomes hard to breath in deeply without a sharp pain in my back, and when i move the pain become very sharp as well. It comes for a couple days then leaves again for a couple weeks. I am going to see my Dr. for my annual in a few weeks and will mention this to him, but I want to know if I should even be leaving this that long?
Posted Mon, 16 Apr 2012 in Abdominal Pain
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 53 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the query.

There are a couple of things which come to mind with the symptoms you report and none of them is life-threatening. The only reason I would see the doctor sooner is if these symptoms start to hamper your ability to function.

One possible explanation for this would be a kidney stone. These are tiny hard stones which can form in the urinary tract. As the stones exit the urinary system and travel down the urethra they can trigger spasms of severe pain which can sometimes be associated with nausea. Pain can be located in the flank behind the ribs, under the ribs or in the groin. Sometimes blood can be seen in the urine as well.

Next consideration would be a urinary tract infection but I consider this less likely since you do not have symptoms of urinary frequency or urgency.

Next on the list would be irritable bowel. This is a condition where there may be at times spasms in the bowel which come and go. These can be related to stress or to intolerance to certain foods such as gluten or dairy.

You are a young female so we must also conside gynecological causes including pregnancy, ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids.

Again there are alot of possible causes here and I am sure that with a good physical exam and discussion, your doctor will be able to determine and address the cause.

Thanks again for the query. I hope you found my response to be helpful. If you have any additional concerns i would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain under the rib cage, abdominal pain, pain while breathing. Need immediate care? 1 hour later
Thank you Dr. XXXXXXX Your response eases my mind.
I should mention that I know I am definitely not pregnant so that rules this out. I wonder, if this was something gynecological happening now would I not have abnormal bleeding and/or cycles? Or can something gynecological be void of this symptom?
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 20 hours later
Hello again.

Bleeding does not always have to be present in a gynecologic disorder. As you stated something gunecological can be void of these things which makes the diagnosis so challenging in the absence of a good pelvic exam and possibly an ultrasound.

Thanks again for the query. If you have additional concerns please let me know.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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