Feeling Pain under Ribs: Causes and Actions to Take

Pain under the ribs is a relatively common nuisance that can have its origin in different causes. The most important thing is to pay attention to whether the pain is located on the right or left side, as well as if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

At the time of going to the doctor, it is essential for the doctor to know what is the area where the pain began to determine the cause. In addition, it is essential to be aware of aspects such as where you are going or what the intensity is.

The pain in the ribs is not something to get used to. Therefore, if you do not begin to mitigate after 48 to 72 hours, it is important to see a doctor to perform the appropriate exams.

One of the main consultations of patients who have pain under the ribs is related to pain in the right side. Although it is not always a cause for concern, it is convenient to see a doctor, especially if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as malaise and / or high fever.


Pain in the right side can be caused by trauma to the area. The bumps in the costal area are very painful. Regarding the recovery process, it is slow since the ribcage opens continuously to breathe.


Usually the pain begins in the navel area and travels as the inflammation worsens. In addition, this disease has other associated symptoms: nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal bloating and fever.


Pain in the right side in children and adults can also be caused by flatulence. These appear when there is a bloating of the stomach or intestines due to the accumulation of gases.

It is not a serious illness. Still, it is important to pay attention to the symptoms. If any of the following occurs, it is advisable to see a doctor: black stools, weight loss for no apparent reason, lump in the abdomen and abdominal discomfort of great intensity.

Another probable cause that explains the pain on the right side is herpes zoster costal. It is a relatively frequent skin lesion, which generates a very intense pain accompanied by tingling and burning in the area. In addition, this disease can lead to other symptoms such as headache, fever, joint pain and abdominal pain.


Pneumonia is one of the most common diseases in both adults and children. It is an infection that affects the air sac of one or both lungs. The symptoms of this disorder vary from mild to severe, depending on a number of factors: age, health status, microorganism responsible for the infection, etc.

The most frequent signs are: severe pain in the right side of the chest, fatigue, high fever, nausea and difficulty breathing. Regarding the complications of pneumonia, a pleural effusion may occur. This occurs when fluid accumulates in the pleura, which must be drained by a pleural catheter.

Gallbladder problems

When the pain under the ribs is located on the right side, in many cases it is due to a gallbladder problem, such as gallstone. This is a disease that results in very noticeable symptoms, such as fever and jaundice.

Renal tumor

Although not the most common, pain on the right side can also be a symptom of a kidney tumor. The incidence of kidney cancer is increasing among the adult population. It is a silent disease, which in many cases does not give rise to any type of symptom in the early stages.

In the last stages, the signs of kidney cancer can be: presence of blood in the urine, pain in the right side of the body, weight loss for no apparent reason, fatigue and intermittent fever.

Pain under the ribs can also be located on the left side due to any of the following causes.


One of the main reasons why severe pain can occur under the ribs is a fracture or fissure. The last ribs of the rib cage, which are called floating ribs, are more susceptible to injury than the rest.

Gastrointestinal disorders

Another probable cause is gastrointestinal problems due to a copious meal or the intake of overly acidic or spicy foods. In this case, the pain on the left side is accompanied by other symptoms such as malaise, nausea and vomiting.

Injured spleen

An injury to the spleen can also cause this type of pain. This is a soft organ whose main function is to filter and destroy old blood cells. The main symptom is the appearance of bruises in the area due to the accumulation of blood under the skin.


Pancreatitis is defined as an inflammatory process of the pancreas. Mild cases may disappear without treatment, although more severe cases can lead to life-threatening complications. That is why it is so important to see a doctor before any of the following symptoms: pain under the ribs that extends to the back, nausea, fever, increased heart rate and vomiting.

Heart attack

The pain of heart attacks manifests on the left side of the body. It is a relatively easy pain to diagnose since it occurs oppressively and causes other symptoms that give rise to a feeling of malaise.

Stomach ulcer

Stomach ulcer is an injury that occurs in the stomach lining. In addition to the pain under the ribs, other common signs are: feeling of being full despite having eaten little, heartburn, gas and nausea.


Costochondritis is the most common cause of pain in the ribs. It has its origin in an inflammation of the cartilage that joins the sternum bone and the upper ribs. The most common symptom is tenderness in the area between the nipples, especially when pressing on it.

In many cases the symptoms improve after 48 to 72 hours. The most common treatment is the application of hot packs in the area and rest.

Cracks in the ribs

There are many people who live with a crack in the ribs without even knowing it. This is partly because they believe that the ribs can only fracture due to a blow. However, a strong cough that remains for a long period of time can also cause cracks, and even fractures, in the ribs.

In addition to pain of great intensity in the affected region, other common symptoms are: bump in the waist or abdomen, shortness of breath and shortness of breath when trying to breathe more deeply.

What to do before the pain under the ribs?

If you suffer from pain under the ribs and do not know what the cause is, the first thing is to put yourself in a resting position to relieve discomfort. If the pain is due to a mild stroke or muscle contraction, rest will allow you to recover without any problem. You can accompany the rest with the placement of cold packs on the affected area.

If, as time passes, the pain increases in intensity, to the point that it is difficult for you to breathe, it is important that you go to the doctor as soon as possible. Most commonly, an X-ray will be done at the health center to determine the cause and thus establish the most appropriate treatment.

If the doctor suspects that the pain under the ribs is due to a heart attack, he will evaluate other parameters such as blood pressure and heart rate.