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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  • LungileOct.20 20:11
    Hi there thanks for information I have a left side pain in my chest under ribs, I was worried about this but now I am clear it is indigestion because I have Umhlume which makes lots of air inside my stomach. Want to know the medication I can buy to treat this. Please help. Email me with information. I really need help please Doctor.
  • sizweOct.5 13:34
    i been suffuring from this pain for many years now, i dont know what the cuase of it but it been bothering me and im scared to go to the doctore probbaly it may turns up to be something that i can't real live with it in my heart. worse i feel like keep doing something just to get my mind out of this pain.
  • Kermit GonzalezSep.6 22:22
    Last night 9/5/2016 while sitting down I went to turn and at the same time I coughed and felt a sharp pain right underneath my left rib cage area, it was a very un-comfortable sharp pain like been stabbed. During the night it was not comfortable to sleep or even turn, or even to cough. If I have to cough due to my cold I have to press my left rib cage in with both hands. I haven't had any recent accidents or trauma to that area. Any ideas ? I am going to try to tough it out for a few days but if this continues I will go and get it check out.
  • Jane Lephoto Aug.20 05:10
    I started having the pain under my left breast when I was pregnant but it stopped after delivery.Now I am having this pain again.
  • kathleen heeleyAug.3 19:27
    hi , im having pain under my left side ribs it as come on suddenly, i do know i had a enlarged spleen 4 years ago but it sorted itself out and it came on due to the fact ive got RA and neatrapena, so im wondering ,will it sort it self out again or should i get in touch with some one medical ,i didnt have pain with the enlarged one 4 years ago
  • TemmyJul.31 17:49
    I have been witnessing pain in d left side under d Rib cage for about 4yrs the pain moves from d front atimes to the back side what can I do, my email [email protected]
  • RueJul.30 22:58
    I randomly just started having severe pain in the left side of my abbs, I can't pinpoint the exact location but it is in my left side of stomach, I feel it in my back slightly, it's been consistent for an hour now, I'm a 22 year old male, if I move at all its very very painful, I have no idea what's going on, if I lay in feetle position and put pressure on it it's the only thing that helps the pain but doesn't take it away, I don't have a fever, haven't vomited. I can't cough it hurts so bad, it's in between my rips and hip bone, I can't sit up straight, and it's horrible if I try to walk anybody have anything? I've been searching the Internet and haven't found anything that's exactly what's going on with me.
  • I am 33 by name Chat. My pains started 5 days ago i don't really feel d pain, except if I am working on foot or after eating nd i hv a very big stomach . I gave birth to my 3 children through CS dat is d reason for my big stomach.
  • Jessica brockJul.28 10:38
    I have been having a persistent aching pain on the left side of my back right under my ribcage. It hurts to lay down especially on that side. The only way I get any relief is to ball up my fist and lay on it or put pressure on it. No kind of OTC pain reliever has touched it. What Haven't slept in days. What could be the cause?
  • derekJul.26 09:58
    Hi fellowship of left side rib pain, the pressure (pain) is always present it varies from pain that literally stops you breathing to an ever present pressure that turns to stabbing pain when coughing, burping(breaking wind) or any exercise whatsoever. Sound familiar? I feel for everyone who suffers from this affliction mine started a year ago I am 44 years old I was diagnosed with pulmery embolism I received 6 months blood thinning treatment I felt great back to normal then I had severe kidney pain which was treated for 1 week as a kidney stone being passed then I had a severe attack of pain on my left side which stopped me breathing properly I was diagnosed again with a P.E. Now I am on blood thinners' for life but this pain has not gone away like last time but remains constant I know in myself this is not the same pain as before but no doctors will listen to me as they know better I've had 3 visits to the E.R, as my gp suspects that my blood clot has not broken up yet they refuse to re ct scan me or even x-ray me they diagnosed me with a chest infection which has since cleared up but the pain stays regardless now I feel lost and bitter because the doctors seem to ignore this I live in fear of the P.E. Has not broken up and will pass to my heart and I die or passes to my head when I'll take a stroke. My father took a heart attack at 38 and suffered 2 strokes and 4 more heart attacks before dying of septicaemia after broken ribs as a result of being resuscitated after a heart attack, am I over thinking this or am I right to worry?
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