Since the heart is located right under the ribcage, most heart-related issues can cause pain over the left shoulder, left arm and under the rib cage. However, there are also organs like the pancreas, spleen, large intestine, lungs and kidney under the left rib cage. Therefore, an infection, inflammation or any other issues related to these organs can also lead to a pain under the left ribcage, extending towards the back and upper abdomen.
1. Heart Attack
When you feel a sharp pain under the left rib cage, there are high chances that you might have just suffered a heart attack. This happens when the heart does get enough supply of the oxygen-rich blood as a result of a blockage in the coronary artery. It can be heart attack when the pain is accompanied by
- A squeezing sensation in the chest
- Discomfort in the jaws, neck, shoulder, back, and arms
- A burning sensation radiating outwards from the center of the chest
- Cold sweat, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting
Angina could also be the origin of pain under the rib cage. This is mainly caused by a poor blood circulation arising out of arteries that have grown narrow or blocked due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This condition is mainly seen in overweight people. Although the symptoms are similar to heart attack, angina is not really a heart attack. However, if the condition is unstable, it could also lead to heart attack.
It could be pericarditis if the pain under the left rib cage is constant and gets worse while coughing. This is caused when the protective sac surrounding the heart gets inflamed. Although the exact causes of this inflammation are not known, it can be very painful when it occurs. It is thought that pericarditis could arise due to rheumatoid arthritis or when the heart or the rib cage suffers a trauma.
Costochondritis is a condition in which the breastbone gets inflamed. It is mostly caused after surgeries in the upper chest when the breastbone suffers minor traumas. The pain gets even more intense while coughing and radiates towards the left side of the left side of the abdomen and the back. Avoiding strenuous exercises and using hot compresses could be helpful in reducing the pain.
Being located right under the left rib cage, an inflammation of the pancreas could cause pain in the abdomen towards the upper left part. Since pancreas has its head on the right, the pain can also be felt towards the right side of the chest. Pancreatitis mainly occurs because of an inflammation from overuse of alcohol and sometimes, due to the presence of gallstones. The pain can worsen following the consumption of fatty foods and spread towards the back and the left shoulder as well.
6. Spleen Disease
An enlargement of the spleen can also be one of the contributing factors for pain under the left rib cage. The pain can also be felt while breathing. The spleen disease can make it very difficult to eat larger meals in a single sitting. If you experience any such symptoms, it should immediately be brought before the doctor’s attention.
7. Lung Disease
Respiratory infections and other diseases affecting the lungs can also be the reason for the pain under the left cage. However, it is not necessary that the pain is felt under the left rib cage. Depending on the side of the lung that has been affected, the pain can be felt under the left as well as the right rib cage. If not treated in time, this could lead to serious complications. Therefore, it is best to consult a physician as soon as possible. Some of the most common lung diseases resulting in chest pain include:
Pneumonia can cause a stabbing pain in the lungs, which gets worse even while breathing and coughing. The condition is also accompanied by fever and a general lack of good health.
Pleurisy is a condition wherein the tissues forming a covering over the lung get filled with fluid leading to an inflammation. This puts a constant pressure on the lungs, thereby giving rise to intense pain.
- Lung Collapse
A lung collapse can cause intense and sharp pain which gets worse while breathing deeply. It can even lead to secondary issues such as fatigue, shortness of breath, cough and rapid breathing. A collapsed lung is mainly caused by either a trauma or a surgery of the rib cage.
8. Digestive Problems
There are a number of digestive issues that may lead to pain under the rib cage. For a proper treatment, it is very necessary to identify the exact cause of the pain.
Heartburns are caused by the digestive acid leaking into the esophagus. Although the symptoms are similar to heart attack, heartburns are very different to heart attacks. A burning sensation is felt mainly in the chest and the upper abdomen.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is caused due to the presence of excess gas in the stomach leading to pain on the left part of the abdomen. The symptoms can come in short bouts of intense pain as well as a constant dull pain over a prolonged period of time.
Irritable bowel disease could be Crohn’s disease as well as ulcerative colitis. The disease results in an inflamed digestive tract and pain under the ribs.
Constipation can be the reason of the buildup of hard stool inside the colon. This can cause abdominal pain, chest pain as well as respiratory problems.
9. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are caused by the salts and minerals getting deposited inside the kidneys. Every time the stone moves, a sharp pain can be felt below the ribs. This can be treated with medicines as well as surgery.
10. Rib Injury
Any damage to the rib cage and the surrounding muscles could cause pain under the rib cage. The intensity of the pain depends on the amount of damage. If the treatment is delayed, the condition can get complicated, leading to more pain. If ignored for long, it can even lead to kidney damage. Rib injuries are mainly caused by a trauma to the rib cage, resulting in fractures and breakages.