Diagnosing Pain On Left Side Below Ribs

Are you currently suffering pain in left side below rib? If so, you may be questioning what is the source of the pain. Well, there are several conditions that may be linked to your pain and below you will discover a little bit more about these two medical conditions.

Sharp Pain in Left Side

You may be suffering from splenomegaly (enlarged spleen), if you are experiencing lower back pain left side. The spleen is located underneath the left rib cage, in the upper left side of the abdomen. This organ is very important, because it part of the lymphatic system and responsible for filtering blood and removing abnormal blood cells from the bloodstream.

The spleen is also responsible for the production of white blood cells (macrophage), which help combat foreign invaders (bacteria, virus). The spleen is also a reservoir, because it stores ferritin (form of iron) and blood. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffer from extreme blood loss, the spleen will release the reserved blood back into the blood stream.

The average sized spleen weight around 6 ounces and measures in at 5″ L x 3″ W x 1 1/2″ in thickness. When the spleen is attacked by an infection or other medical condition, it will become enlarged and balloon up to a weight of around 4 pounds.

Causes of Enlarged Spleen

When the immune cells detect a foreign invader, it will activate the lymphatic system (lymph nodes, spleen) to combat it, by producing lymphocytes (defender cells). The lymphocytes will produce antibodies (proteins) that will kill the invader. The spleen and lymph nodes will filter the bacteria out of the body.

  • Viral (mononucleosis, endocarditis) and bacterial (syphilis) infections
  • Parasite infection (malaria)
  • Chronic cirrhosis
  • Leukemia and other blood cancers
  • Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease)
  • Metabolic disorder (Gaucher’s disease)
  • Inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Trauma (MVA more common)

There are several other signs of splenomegaly that you may exhibit including unexplained weight loss, fever, jaundice (yellow pigmentation of the skin and sclera), nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anemia (low RBCs), and pain in lower left side of abdomen that radiates to the lower back area.

You can undergo a splenectomy and live a normal lifestyle, without further issues.

What Causes Pain in Left Side

Another medical condition that presents with back pain lower left side is pancreatitis. The pancreas is a very important organ that is located behind the stomach, in the upper left side, because it is part of the endocrine and digestive system. As an endocrine organ, it produces several hormones including insulin, glucagon, pancreatic polypeptide, and somatostatin.

As a digestive organ, it secretes digestive enzymes that help breakdown proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates in partly digested food (chyme). This condition has been reported to affect males more often than females, with alcohol being the factor 70% of the time.

Causes of Pancreatitis

  • Alcoholism
  • Cholelithiasis (gallstone disease) when a gallstone makes its way out of the gallbladder into the bile ducts, where it will block the ducts, so the gallbladder cannot drain
  • Autoimmune disorders (Kawasaki disease)
  • Trauma to the pancreas, which often occurs during surgical procedures and motor vehicle accidents
  • Hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels over 1,000 mg/dl)
  • Long-term use of medications (estrogen hormone, dorticosteroid)
  • Viral infections (mycoplasma pneumonia) and childhood diseases (mumps)

Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Of course, you will experience pain in the left side, which will radiate to the upper back and shoulder blade. Other symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdomen will become swollen with flatulence
  • Jaundice
  • Tachycardia (increased pulse)
  • Consumption of acidic foods and sodas may worsen symptoms
  • Ascites (abdominal cavity becomes filled with fluids)
  • Fatigue