Do you have pain on the left side of your body? You’re not alone.
The left side of your body is home to many organs and structures, including the heart, lung, and stomach.
Left-sided pain can also be caused by a number of other factors such as muscle strain or injury.
We’ll explore pain on the left side of your torso and offer advice for when you should see a doctor about pain on the left side of your rib cage or abdomen.
To understand what may be causing the pain we first have to understand the anatomy of what is on the left side of your body/torso.
The left side houses a number of important organs including the:
Now that we have an understanding of the important parts of the body under the left side of your ribcage and abdomen, let’s take a look at what may be causing the pain.
There are a number of conditions and cases that can cause pain in this region. They include:
Angina is a heart condition caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart.
This pain is sometimes felt as a pressure or tightness in the left side of your chest and can be worsened with physical activity, exertion, or stress.
Fractured ribs or broken ribs
If you have a fractured or broken rib, the pain will be felt when breathing in deeply or coughing as this will cause the ribs to move.
Pneumonia, pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the lining or membrane around the lungs, and other lung-related conditions can cause pain on the left side of your chest.
A collapsed lung and costochondritis, which is inflammation of the cartilage around your ribcage, also fall into this category.
A heart attack can also cause pain on the left side of your chest.
This pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, and feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
Pericarditis is an inflammatory disease caused by an inflammation of the pericardium, which is a sac-like structure that surrounds your heart.
This pain can be particularly sharp and will often increase with a deep breath or coughing.
Heartburn is also called chest pain or acid indigestion pain and is pain caused by gastric reflux, which is usually associated with a poor diet. This pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- The feeling of a lump in the throat and also called globus pharyngeus
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Dry cough
Endocarditis is an infection of the lining of your heart.
This condition can cause pain in the left side of your chest, as well as other symptoms such as a fever, shortness of breath, and feeling generally unwell.
There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing pain in this area. They include:
Appendicitis can cause pain in the lower-right portion of your abdomen and can be particularly severe.
The pain often increases when you breathe in deeply or cough and will also worsen with movement.
Despite the appendix being on the lower right side of your abdomen, appendicitis pain may radiate a sharp pain to other areas such as:
- The center of your back
- Under your right rib cage
- The left side of your chest
- Your groin area
Problems with your colon such as diverticular disease, also called diverticulitis, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis can cause abdominal pain on the left side of your abdomen.
This pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and nausea.
Kidney stones, a kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, and other kidney-related conditions can cause pain on the left side of your back.
This pain may be accompanied by other common conditions such as:
- Urinating more or less than usual
Gas, also known as flatulence or bloating, is pain caused by excessive gas in the stomach and intestines.
This pain can sometimes radiate to other areas.
Constipation can be painless, however, it can also be very uncomfortable. It occurs when you have had a bowel movement less than three times in a week.
It is pain caused by difficulty passing stool and is often accompanied by other common symptoms such as:
- Feeling like you cannot empty your bowel
- Straining to pass stools
- Feeling the need to go but not being able to do so with pain that radiates into your back or rectum
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD, or more commonly known as acid reflux, is pain caused by acid refluxing into the esophagus.
This pain often accompanies heartburn.
Pancreatitis is caused by inflammation of the pancreas. This pain often radiates to your back and is worsened when you lie down or lean forward.
The pancreas is on the right side of your abdomen but the pain can radiate to your left abdomen, too.
An enlarged spleen, also known as splenomegaly, is pain caused by an enlargement of the spleen and can cause left-sided abdominal pain usually in the upper abdomen.
However, this pain can be worsened with movement and may radiate to other areas such as:
- The center of your back
- Under your right rib cage
- Your left shoulder
- The left side of your chest
An enlarged spleen makes it easier to cause a ruptured spleen too.
Indigestion is pain caused by a sour stomach. What this means is the acids in your stomach irritate your esophagus or other parts of your digestive tract.
This pain can be worsened when you eat certain foods, such as fried food and fatty meals, or drink carbonated beverages.
A hernia is caused by a protrusion of an organ or other body part through a weakened area in the muscle or connective tissue and can often be seen or felt with a physical exam.
Hernias are often accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- A bulge or lump in your abdomen
- Pain when you move, cough, or sneeze
- Feeling pain when you lift something heavy
- Shortness of breath
Pain on the left side is pain caused by any number of conditions. When experiencing pain in this area, you should consult with a doctor to have it checked out.
The sooner the cause of your pain can be identified and treated, the better off you will be.
The answer to this question is fully dependent on what is causing the pain.
When pain is accompanied by other symptoms or there is persistent pain for a significant amount of time, you should consult with your doctor to have it checked out.
Also, if you are experiencing some life-threatening symptoms such as those experienced during a heart attack or you have a shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention immediately as these can become fatal.
If your pain worsens or becomes more severe, please see your doctor or health care provider immediately.
Pain on the left side of your body could be from a number of different things with varying degrees of seriousness.
It could be from something as simple as heartburn to something as deadly as a heart attack.
Some of the other medical conditions that can cause pain on the left side are kidney problems, GERD pain, pancreatitis pain, and enlarged spleen pain.
Other health conditions such as a hernia or indigestion can also cause pain in this area.
Pain on the left side of my body is not something to be taken lightly and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Again, if you are having worsening or severe pain or have life-threatening symptoms like shortness of breath this is a medical emergency and you should seek medical treatment immediately.
References, Studies, and Sources:
American Family Physician
- Enlarged Spleen – Splenomegaly
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