Dull Pain Under Right Rib Cage Comes and Goes: Causes and Treatments

Dull Pain Under Right Rib Cage Comes and Goes: Understanding What It Means

We’ve all experienced pain in different parts of our bodies at some point in time. When it comes to a dull pain under the right rib cage that comes and goes, it can be quite concerning. This pain could be caused by several factors such as issues with the liver, gallbladder, or even the right lung. Sometimes, the pain might not be severe, but it can disrupt daily activities and cause worry.

To get to the bottom of this pain, it’s important to consider other symptoms you might be experiencing, such as nausea, changes in appetite, or fever. These could provide additional clues about what might be causing the discomfort. For instance, gallstones in the gallbladder often present as a dull ache in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen that might radiate to the back.

We should also think about lifestyle factors that might contribute to this kind of pain. Things like poor posture, lack of exercise, or stress can lead to musculoskeletal issues that cause pain in the chest wall and rib cage. Understanding the cause is the first step to finding the right treatment and getting back to feeling your best.

Identifying the Symptoms

When we talk about dull pain under the right rib cage that comes and goes, it’s important to know the key symptoms and what might be causing them. We’ll look at the nature of the pain itself and other symptoms that might come along.

Characterizing the Pain

The pain under the right rib cage can feel like a dull ache. It might be persistent or come and go.

  • Location: Right side, just below the rib cage.
  • Type: Dull, aching sensation.
  • Duration: Can last minutes to hours, often intermittent.

This pain can get worse when we move, twist, or breathe deeply. It might feel better with rest or certain positions.

Other Accompanying Symptoms

Along with the dull pain, there might be other symptoms to watch for.

  • Nausea and vomiting: Feeling sick to the stomach or actually throwing up.
  • Fever: A higher-than-normal body temperature.
  • Gas: Bloating or an excessive amount of gas.
  • Fatigue: A feeling of being very tired and low on energy.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling winded.
  • Coughing: Persistent cough.
  • Weight loss: Unintentional loss of weight.
  • Discomfort: A general feeling of unease in the abdomen.

These symptoms can help us understand what might be causing the pain, such as gallstones, liver problems, or even issues with our lungs. Recognizing these symptoms early can help us seek proper medical care.

Common Causes of Pain

Many causes can be behind a dull pain under the right rib cage that comes and goes. These range from gastrointestinal issues to liver and gallbladder problems, and inflammatory conditions. Each has its own specific symptoms and treatments.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Pain under the right rib cage can often be linked to gastrointestinal problems. Stomach ulcers can cause discomfort here, sometimes due to the acid that’s wearing away at your stomach lining. This pain might get worse after eating spicy or acidic foods.

Another potential cause is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can make your intestines contract painfully, especially in the areas near your rib cage. You might notice the pain ebbing and flowing with your diet or stress levels.

Sometimes, the issue might be linked to gas. When gas builds up, it can cause sharp pain that moves around your abdomen, including under your ribs. In such cases, the pain is usually temporary and relieved by passing gas or burping.

Liver and Gallbladder Problems

Liver and gallbladder issues are also common culprits for pain under the right rib cage. Gallstones can cause intense pain if they block the ducts of your gallbladder. This pain can be sharp and might come in waves. It’s important to see a doctor if you suspect gallstones, as they may need surgical removal.

Liver problems such as hepatitis or fatty liver disease can also cause pain in this area. Hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver, can be due to viral infections or other factors like alcohol use. A swollen liver puts pressure on the surrounding tissues causing a dull ache.

Cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gallbladder, can also lead to pain under the right rib. This condition often causes intense, sudden pain that may spread to the shoulder and back.

Inflammatory Conditions

Inflammation in and around your rib cage can also be a source of pain. Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs attach to the breastbone. This condition can cause sharp or aching pain that can mimic heart issues.

Other inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis can cause pain under the ribs. Pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas, often causes intense pain that may feel like it radiates through to your back.

Colon inflammation, such as with colitis or infections, can also result in discomfort under the right rib. These inflammatory conditions often come with other symptoms like fever or changes in bowel habits.

By identifying the cause of your pain, you can better understand the appropriate treatment and steps to alleviate it. Having knowledge about these common causes helps in making informed health decisions.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you experience dull pain under your right rib cage that comes and goes, it’s important to know when to seek medical attention. Sometimes, this pain can signal serious issues that require prompt care.

When to See a Doctor

We should consider seeing a doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days or is severe. Persistent pain can indicate problems like liver disease, gallstones, or kidney issues, requiring careful evaluation.

Emergency treatment is necessary if the pain is accompanied by symptoms like fever, yellowing of the skin (jaundice), or severe vomiting. These symptoms could point to conditions like an infection, liver disease, or a blocked bile duct.

Doctors may recommend imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or x-ray, to check for issues with organs or blood vessels. If cancer is suspected, more detailed imaging or a biopsy might be needed.

Documenting our medical history and any lifestyle changes, like recent travel or diet changes, helps the doctor diagnose the problem. Sharing this information is crucial for a proper assessment and treatment plan.

Monitoring the pain’s intensity, location, and duration, along with any other symptoms, helps in giving a complete picture to the healthcare provider.

Treatment Options

There are several ways to manage dull pain under the right rib cage that comes and goes. These can range from medical treatments to home remedies and lifestyle changes.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatments can be very effective in managing dull pain under the right rib cage. Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve) are often recommended to reduce discomfort.

If the underlying cause is found to be related to the liver or gallbladder, antibiotics might be prescribed. In more severe cases, such as gallstones, surgery may be necessary.

For conditions like slipping rib syndrome, targeted treatments like the erector spinae plane block can help relieve the pain. This is an ultrasound-guided procedure where medication is injected near the nerves to reduce pain sensation.

Doctors also recommend antacids if the pain is linked to digestive issues, such as acid reflux. These medications neutralize stomach acid, providing relief.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Home remedies and lifestyle changes can also help manage this kind of pain. Applying a warm compress to the area can ease discomfort, while over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce pain.

Maintaining a healthy diet helps avoid gallbladder and digestive problems. We should eat small, frequent meals and avoid high-fat foods.

Regular exercise is beneficial but should be done in moderation to prevent muscle strain.

Stress management is vital as stress can worsen pain. Practices like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help manage stress.

Simple changes like maintaining good posture and avoiding heavy lifting can also prevent muscle strain and discomfort.

Understanding Chronic Conditions

Dealing with chronic conditions can be challenging as they require long-term management. This section focuses on recognizing chronic pain and how various factors like diet, stress, and smoking can influence it.

Recognizing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than three months. Unlike acute pain, which results from sudden injury, chronic pain persists over time and can be constant or intermittent. It often impacts daily life and emotional well-being. For example, the dull pain under the right rib cage that comes and goes may be related to chronic conditions like liver disease, gallbladder issues, or chronic inflammation.

Key factors contributing to chronic pain:

  • Long-term stress: Constant stress can worsen chronic pain.
  • Diet: Unhealthy eating can lead to conditions like fatty liver disease.
  • Smoking: Smoking negatively affects your body’s ability to heal.
  • Alcohol: Excessive drinking can cause liver and gastrointestinal issues.

Managing chronic pain:

  • Regular exercise: Helps improve physical function.
  • Healthy diet: Reduces inflammation and supports overall wellness.
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol: Improves long-term health outcomes.

Lifestyle and Prevention

To manage dull pain under the right rib cage, we need to look at our daily habits. Making small adjustments can make a big difference.


Eating a balanced diet helps. High-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can prevent digestive issues that might cause pain.

  • Avoid fatty, fried foods
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Stay hydrated


Regular exercise keeps our body in good shape. Here are some suggestions:

  • Gentle stretching can improve flexibility.
  • Walking or yoga helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Core-strengthening exercises support the back and rib muscles.


Good posture eases pressure on the ribs.

  • Sit and stand up straight.
  • Use an ergonomic chair.
  • Adjust your computer screen to eye level.

Stress Management

Stress can lead to muscle tension, causing pain.

  • Practice deep breathing exercises.
  • Try meditation or mindfulness.
  • Get enough rest.

Injury Prevention

Preventing injury can stop pain before it starts.

  • Wear proper gear during sports.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or learn the right technique.
  • Take breaks to stretch if you sit for long periods.

Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups ensure early detection of issues.

  • Visit your doctor if pain persists.
  • Follow medical advice and prescribed treatments.

By making these changes, we can alleviate and prevent pain under the right rib cage. Small steps lead to a healthier, pain-free life.

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