The rib cage plays a very important role in protecting the entire cardiovascular system. Normally, each person has 12 rib bones located on either side of the thoracic cavity. At times, people may feel various levels of pain under right rib cage. This pain can cause much discomfort, whether it is mild or severe. More often than not, the pain is due to a change in posture; however, there are times when an underlying medical issue is the real culprit. When there is an underlying medical issue, it is important that appropriate care and treatment is given.

What Causes Pain Under Right Rib Cage?


Strain on the Intercostal Muscles

The intercostal muscles are just one of the many groups of muscles which connect the ribs. These particular muscles expand and contract as we breathe; it is very noticeable when these muscles are inflamed or infected as you will feel a pain under right rib cage. Most of the time, relaxation and/or medication can aid in relieving these symptoms.



Gallstones develop in the gallbladder, which is located in the upper right abdomen under the liver, and move into its ducts, causing mild to severe pain below the right rib cage. Some symptoms may be nausea, vomiting, fever, or rapid heart rate and the pain can move toward the right shoulder. There may even be a severe pain in the upper right abdomen if the stone has blocked the bile flow. Most of the time, gallstones can be surgically removed or treated with medications.



Inflammation of the muscles of the rib cage, known as costochondritis, cause pain below the right rib cage. Excessive coughing leads to extra stress on the rib cage and viral infections can cause a pain under right rib cage. Most of the time, the pain will be accompanied by a sore throat, fatigue and fever. The pain can be relieved with anti-inflammatory prescriptions.


Liver Problems

A damaged liver is one of the most common causes of sharp pain under right rib cage. Diseases such as hepatitis, fatty liver, congestive heart failure, and many others cause the liver to become infected resulting in pain. Sometimes blocked blood vessels due to blood clots can also cause the pain. Detecting liver disease early helps prevent serious health conditions, always consult your doctor if you experience pain in your liver region.



Most of the time, the infection and inflammation of the pancreas will create a sharp, acute pain under right rib cage. The pain will then spread to the sides and back. Eating a diet of heavy meals and drinking excess alcohol can lead to pancreatitis. When you notice fever, yellowish skin, increased heart rate, or vomiting along with the pain, you need to consult your physician.


Acid Reflux and Ulcers

The reflux of acid and regurgitation of food will cause a sharp pain under right rib cage. A burning sensation in the throat may also occur. Ulcers may lead to abdominal bleeding or tearing; it is important that both acid reflux and ulcers receive adequate diagnosis and treatment.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Vomiting and altered bowel movements are signs that you may have inflammatory bowel disease. The pain under right rib cage occurs when there is an inflammation or obstruction within the gut after eaten certain foods. If left untreated, this may lead to more severe irritations such as Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is the severe inflammation of the large intestine. Along with a severe pain under right rib cage, you may also experience diarrhea, flatulence, and other abdominal discomfort. Keeping your doctor up to date with this disease is of vital importance for your health.


Trauma to Ribs or Its Cartilages

Any accidents or repetitive trauma and movement from certain sports may lead to a pain under right rib cage. If you are in a crushing or falling accident, you need to seek immediate medical help. You may also notice a sharp pain develop when you complete certain repetitive movements, in this case it is also important that you seek medical attention as the injury may be even more serious. Only chest x-rays can determine the seriousness of the injury.



A small part of the intestine, known as the appendix, may get infected causing a sharp pain under right rib cage. The pain is due to the inflammation and will need immediate diagnosis and treatment.


Special Cases

  • During pregnancy: The hormonal changes, increasing size of the uterus and the breasts, may lead to pain under right rib cage. Most of the time this is normal, but always remember to let your doctor know.

  • During running: Known as a stitch, the sharp pain under right rib cage while you are running may be caused may several reasons. Some of the most common reasons are: over hydrating, overeating, uneven breathing, or even dehydration.

How to Deal With Pain Under Right Rib Cage

  • Medications: The medication required for treatment is dependent upon the cause of the pain. There are several varieties of medication for the individual circumstances. Most of the inflammatory causes can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Sometimes the use of over-the-counter pain medications will treat the symptoms.

  • Dietary changes: When you suffer from pain under right rib cage due to intestinal inflammation, a change in your diet will cure the symptoms. 

  • Surgery: In some instances such as gallstones, flail chest or fractured ribs, surgery is needed to relieve the symptoms.

Should I Worry?

There are times when you may feel a mild or sharp pain under your right rib cage; this is not always a concern. If it goes away after a few minutes, and does not return, you most likely do not have anything to worry about. 

However, if the pain persists or you have underlying health issues you need to contact your doctor. Also be sure that you are aware of other symptoms occurring along with the pain so that your doctor can properly diagnose you.


Please Log In or add your name and email to post the comment.

  • Donna LillyDec.6 12:09
    I've had pain under right rib cage for 5 months. I've had an x-Ray, CT scan , ultra sound on Thyroid, Kidneys, Gall bladder, Hida Scan , H Pylori test, Nuclear Renal scan, Urinalysis, I've seen a nephrologist & a urologist. If I'm not on an anti inflammatory the pain at times is excruciating. Any ideas on the cause. I have no , jaundice , abdominal pain, diarrhea or. Nausea. Tired of the pain! Also sometimes I have spasms!
  • Michael LoveNov.16 12:47
    My pain has been for a few days. It is on the far right side of rib cage and about half way up from the bottom. to pin point it i would say it is about 1 inch below the nipple but slightly to the side of the body. Hurts a lot to take a deep breath. I do a fair amount of yoga and wonder if i tore cartilage or pulled a muscle. The thing is, nothing hurt during practice. i noticed it later at night while watching TV. Any thoughts?
  • SapOct.19 00:32
    Hi i had pain under my both side ribs it was more while i am sleeping or lying down sometimes d pain was so severe that i had yo get up an sit . It was pinching pain.i has all test done ultra sound blood test and all but my reports wer normal den one fine day somone helped me with a home remedy that was kind of cupping the lady places a mud diya on the navel and placed 2 camphor and lighten it den took a mug and placed over it the mud stik to the belly very hard and it relased after all the gas was gone the movement d mug was places over i felt like all the nerves geting pulled and the pain gone after 3rd time .i got it done 3time in 1week
  • Andi GOct.6 21:34
    The pain under my roght rib cage is tolerable. I would only feel it if I press on it really deep. I started experiencing this for a year now but not all the time. Like it will be gone for months. Sometimes i noticed, i get this pain aftr drinking coffee.
  • UnathiSep.30 05:38
    I have a sharp piano on my right side under the ribs ,the pain goes to the back and a sharp on my waist and my stomach have been crapping it's been a week now please help
  • cecille santosSep.26 04:28
    You should check for Hepatitis C.I had stabbing pains on and off for years on my right side under my ribs .Sometimes it would be gone for months and then come back.I got tested for Hep C and I had it. Luckily I was able to get treatment for it and am cured.zi had it for 30 years without knowing it.
  • AntzSep.23 12:02
    I had the same pain and had an episode of excruciating pain. I decided to visit my doctor and I had a lot of tests done. Diagnosis was they found I had a cyst on in my live ???? Appointment with the specialist next week so I will definitely let you know of the outcome ????
  • mercedes vilaSep.14 19:17
    most pain on right side under rib cage can be gallstones everyone needs to go see a doctor before it gets worse.
  • PatSep.7 16:02
    Folks, you're breaking my heart: there aren't any doctors here. Please see a doctor, call the nurse line on the back of your health insurance card, or go to an emergency room or community clinic, as soon as possible--the answers are not on an internet message board, so leaving a message here won't do anything for you but help you vent. Until you can see a doctor: stop drinking alcohol, stop taking ibuprofen or other no steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, limit Tylenol to absolutely no more than the recommended daily dose, drink a lot of water, cut WAY back on dairy and fatty, salty or sugary foods, eat some fresh fruits and vegetables, walk at LEAST half an hour a day (preferably a couple of times a day), and stretch (especially the chest--try lying on a narrow bench, bolster or foam roller and opening arms out at shoulder height, bending elbows to 90 degree angle and letting gravity pull arms toward floor; breathing deeply and letting your belly and chest fill with air may also help). You could have anything from restricted muscles, to indigestion, to ulcers, to gall stones, to appendicitis, to liver failure, to food allergies, so see a doctor and take care of your body before and after. God bless!
  • Diane A BazzleSep.4 12:20
    Diane I had a sharp stabbing pain under my right rib cage. Had blood work, ultrasound, endoscope and CT SCAN and I found out I have a fatty liver and a cancerous spot in/on my pancreas. Please if you haven't had your pancreas checked please do so. I HAD NO IDEA THAT WAS MY PROBLEM. I don't won't to scare anyone BUT PLEASE get it checked out. May God bless you...
View All Comments /Add Comment