Right Side Abdominal Pain

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases report that an inguinal hernia will cause a noticeable bulge in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms of an inguinal hernia are: 25

Why Do I Have Lower Right Abdominal Pain?

Pain on the right side of the abdomen can be caused by conditions such as appendicitis, hernia, kidney issues, reproductive system issues, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, or even gas.

There are many possible reasons for discomfort in your right abdominal region. More often than not, pain in the lower right abdomen is nothing to worry about. It’ll go away on its own in a day or two.

If you’re experiencing persistent discomfort, though, you should see a doctor. They can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis.

If you have lower right abdominal pain, you might be wondering if you need to go to the emergency room.

Most of the time, lower right abdominal pain isn’t serious. You should get immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing sudden, severe abdominal pain, or your abdominal pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • a feeling of pressure in your chest
  • pain in your chest, jaw, neck, or arm
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • sweating
  • fever
  • blood in your vomit or stool
  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • skin or eye whites that appear yellow (jaundice)
  • severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen
  • unusual swelling of your abdomen
  • black or tar-like stool
  • persistent loss of appetite
  • unusual weight loss

If you notice these symptoms, call 911 or local emergency services or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Treatment can help prevent these symptoms from becoming severe or life threatening.

Appendicitis

Your appendix is a small, thin tube that’s attached to your large intestine. When your appendix becomes inflamed, it’s known as appendicitis. This condition is a common cause of pain in the lower right abdomen.

The pain may come on suddenly and get worse when you move or breathe.

Other symptoms of appendicitis can include:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • abdominal swelling
  • fever
  • bowel problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, or being unable to pass gas

The condition often requires immediate medical attention. It’s possible for the inflamed appendix to burst, which can cause life threatening complications. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, you should see a doctor right away or go to the nearest emergency room.

While antibiotics can clear some cases of appendicitis, surgery is sometimes needed to remove the appendix (appendectomy).

Kidney infection

A kidney infection is caused by bacteria that usually come from your urinary tract. One or both of your kidneys could be affected by the infection.

Although you may feel pain in your lower abdomen, discomfort from a kidney infection more often occurs in your back or sides. You may also feel pain in your groin, but it’s less common.

Other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea or vomiting
  • peeing more often than usual
  • feeling like you need to pee, even if you just went
  • pain or a burning feeling when you pee
  • pus or blood in your urine
  • urine that’s cloudy or smells bad
  • diarrhea

When untreated, kidney infections can cause permanent damage and serious complications. If you think you could have a kidney infection, you should see a doctor right away.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are a hard buildup of minerals and salts that can form inside your kidneys. You may not feel any pain if the kidney stones are small. If a large kidney stone begins to move around or pass into the tube that connects your kidney and bladder, you may feel severe pain in your lower abdomen, back, side, or groin.

The intensity and location of the pain may change as the kidney stone shifts and moves through your urinary tract.

Other symptoms include:

  • pain when you pee
  • pink, red, or brown urine
  • urine that’s cloudy or smells bad
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling the constant need to pee
  • peeing more often than usual
  • fevers and chills, if infection is also present

If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Hernia

A hernia happens when a part of your body pushes through the lining or muscle that holds it in place. Most hernias happen in the abdomen. They can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area.

Other common symptoms include:

  • swelling or bulging on part of your belly
  • pain while lifting, laughing, crying, coughing, or straining
  • feeling full or constipated

Sometimes, a hernia can cause complications. If you have a hernia and any of the following symptoms, get emergency care right away:

  • sudden, severe pain
  • inability to pass gas (fart) or have a bowel movement
  • vomiting
  • a change in the feeling or position of your hernia, for example, if it becomes harder, or you can no longer push it back in

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common long-term condition that affects your digestive system. It affects up to 12 percent of people in the United States.

  • abdominal pain
  • changes to your bowel movements, in the form of diarrhea, constipation, or both
  • bloating
  • the feeling that you haven’t fully completed a bowel movement
  • mucus in the stool

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes IBS, though it appears to be related to interactions between your gut and your brain.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBS shouldn’t be confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a group of serious digestive disorders that cause changes in bowel tissue and increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

There are two types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both conditions cause inflammation within your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain.

IBD can also cause:

  • severe diarrhea
  • constipation
  • the feeling that you need to pass stool, even when you’ve just gone
  • the feeling that you haven’t finishing passing stool
  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • blood in your stool

IBD can lead to life threatening complications if left untreated. You should see a doctor immediately if you notice symptoms of IBD.

Indigestion

Indigestion, or dyspepsia, is a group of digestive symptoms. It typically happens after you eat or drink something, but it can happen at other times too. Pain usually occurs in the upper abdomen, though it may also be felt lower down. It may feel sharp, dull, or like burning.

Symptoms of indigestion also include:

  • bloating
  • feeling unusually full after eating a small amount
  • nausea
  • gas
  • burping
  • food or bitter-tasting fluids coming back up

Mild indigestion should go away fairly quickly and can usually be treated at home. If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, you should see a doctor to rule out underlying digestive issues.

Gas

Intestinal gas is air and other gases found in your entire digestive tract. It’s often caused by food that’s not broken down completely until it reaches your colon.

The more undigested food present, the more gas your body will produce. As gas builds up, it can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and a “knotted” feeling in your stomach.

Burping and passing gas (farting) usually provide relief. In fact, it’s typical for a person to expel gas up to 30 times a day .

However, excessive gas can sometimes be a symptom of a digestive disorder, such as IBS, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or lactose intolerance.

Intestinal gas can also happen from time to time when you swallow more air than usual, for example, due to overeating, chewing gum, or smoking.

The Main Causes of Right Side Abdominal Pain (Extensive Guide)

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Right side abdominal pain can describe any kind of sharp, dull, aching, or painful feeling in the area between the top of your pelvis to your lower chest. Pain in the right side of your abdomen may be accompanied by nausea, bloating, digestive problems, and cramping. The right side of your abdomen contains organs like the gallbladder, pancreas, appendix, right kidney, liver, and part of your small intestine.

Thankfully, most symptoms associated with right-sided abdominal pain are nothing to worry about and don’t last long.

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Right Side Abdominal Pain: Common Causes and Other Symptoms

For example, pain on the right of your abdomen caused by gas or indigestion can cause, sharp nagging aches. However, sometimes, dull aches that become more intense, or sharp cramping pains in the right side of your belly that don’t go away could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Reproductive organs like the right ovary and part of the uterus are located in the lower right abdomen of women. Cramping pain connected with the menstrual cycle can be felt on just the right side of the lower abdomen if the right ovary is ovulating or if there are cysts.

Even though aches and pains in the right abdomen are usually harmless, there are times when you shouldn’t ignore the constant discomfort. Cramping pain along with other symptoms can be a cause for worry.

Symptoms accompanying right side pains in your abdomen that need medical attention are:

  • Abdominal pain that causes nausea and vomiting
  • Dull aching pain that starts near your belly button and spreads to the lower right belly
  • Any kind of severe pain in the right abdomen that doesn’t go away
  • Passing bloody stools

In this article, I am going to examine the different reasons why pain can occur in the upper right abdominal area or in the lower right abdomen. You will also find out about causes of right-sided abdominal pain that only affect men or women.

Internal organs in the abdomen

Internal organs in the abdomen

Organs on the Right Side of the Abdomen

On the right side of your abdomen you can find some of the most important internal organs in your body:

Liver and gallbladder – Your liver lies under the ribcage on the right side of your stomach and the gallbladder is right under the liver. Gallstones or infection around your liver can cause sharp, right-sided pain below your ribs on the right side of the abdomen.

Right lung – Your lungs play an important function in removing toxins from your blood and replacing them with oxygen. Certain lung infections in the right lung can cause severe pain that can be felt in the right side of your abdomen.

Part of the stomach, intestines, and colon – Part of your stomach, intestines, and colon are also located on the right side of your abdomen. The last part of your colon is located in the lower right side of the abdomen. If you have any digestive problems, the digestive-related pain might be felt on the right side.

Appendix – You appendix is another organ on the right side of your abdomen that can cause right-sided pain. Sometimes, inflammation or infection can cause appendicitis which will result in severe pain the lower part of your belly.

Women’s reproductive system – Part of the reproductive organs in women are located on the right side of their body. The right fallopian tube and ovary are found in the pelvic area are just below the right side of the belly button. Therefore, it quite common that premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis can be a reason for right-sided abdominal pain in women.

Organs on the Right Side of the Abdomen

Organs on the Right Side of the Abdomen

Right Side Abdominal Pain: Common Causes

Unfortunately, abdominal pain on the left side or right side can affect all of us. Most of the time, aches, pains, and discomfort in the right abdomen are not symptoms of anything serious.

Because some types of right side abdominal pain can be serious, it’s important to know where the pain is coming from and how to describe the pain. According to Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on MedicineNet, doctors divide the abdominal area into four areas or quadrants. The upper right abdominal area or right upper quadrant (RUQ) is the part of your upper body below the right chest and above your navel. The right lower quadrant (RLQ) or lower right abdominal area is below your navel and above your right pelvis. 1

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It is also important to recognize the type of pain and describe it properly. According to doctors from the National Institutes of Health, types of pain that you can feel in your abdominal area include: 2

  • Cramping pain
  • Mild to severe cramping
  • Gnawing aches
  • Sharp, shooting pains
  • Stabbing pain
  • Throbbing pains
  • Jabbing aches
  • Tenderness

For example, many women who have right side abdominal pain during their menstrual cycle describe the pain as cramping aches in the lower belly or pelvis. Pain associated with kidney stones or gallstones could be like sharp shooting pains that come and go. However, trapped gas can also cause similar stabbing or jabbing pains.

Let’s look at some of the most common causes of right side abdominal pain.

Trapped gas

Trapped gas is one of the most common reasons why you could have a sharp aching feeling in your right abdomen. Part of your small intestine and colon are on the right side of your middle abdomen, and gas can put pressure on the surrounding muscles.

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Doctors from Johns Hopkins Medicine say that gas is caused by bacteria that break down certain foods in the colon. It is actually estimated that the average person passes gas around 14 times a day. If gas collects on the right side of the colon, the resulting sharp pain may be mistaken for appendicitis or gallstones. 3

According to the doctors from the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms of trapped gas include: 4

  • Burping or belching
  • Swelling of your abdomen or bloating
  • Passing gas with a strong odor
  • Chest pains caused by gas

The best way to get rid of the abdominal pains caused by gas is to expel the gas by making yourself fart. However, you can also try to cut back on foods that are making excessive amounts of gas. For some helpful advice on gas pain, please read my article on the best home remedies for gas and bloating.

Indigestion

Another digestive issue that could be to blame for your right upper quadrant pain is indigestion. Indigestion often causes abdominal cramping after eating as well as chest pain.

Dr. Jay Marks who specializes in gastroenterology reports that indigestion can be the result of various gastrointestinal issues. Another cause of abdominal pain caused by indigestion is the buildup of bacteria in the small intestine. However, the most common symptom of indigestion is upper abdominal or chest pain. 5

Other symptoms of indigestion include:

  • Felling of fullness after eating a meal
  • Excessive belching
  • Nausea with or without throwing up
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Feeling of something stuck in the throat

Heartburn

A related condition of indigestion is heartburn. Heartburn causes burning feelings in the upper chest as well as abdominal discomfort.

Heartburn is often referred to as acid reflux and is also associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD says that heartburn causes upper abdominal pain because the acid from the stomach escapes up the esophagus.

Apart from upper abdominal discomfort, related symptoms to heartburn pain include:

  • Nausea after eating
  • Regurgitation where acidic stomach juices get up to your mouth
  • General stomach discomfort
  • Feeling of something stuck in your throat
  • Increased belching or burping

A great and cheap home remedy for heartburn is to make a drink of baking soda and water. The alkaline effect of baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and can help to quickly relieve the symptoms of heartburn. There also are many more ingenious ways to use baking soda as a medicine.

Shingles

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and can cause a burning pain and tenderness in either side of the abdomen. Usually, only one side of the upper body is affected, not both at the same time.

According to medical information published in the Journal of Clinical Medical Research, pain in the upper body caused by singles can feel like acute abdominal pain. This usually precedes a rash that appears on the affected area of the body. 6

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that other symptoms that accompany shingles can include: 7

  • A red rash that appears a few days after the abdominal and chest pain
  • The rash turns into painful blisters
  • Itching skin
  • Very sensitive skin
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light

One of the best home remedies for treating shingles is to apply Manuka honey. Manuka honey is great for shingles because it contains antiviral properties and can quickly soothe the pain.

Upper Right Abdominal Pain: Common Causes

Let’s look in more detail at the common causes of upper right abdominal pain and how to use home remedies for getting rid of RUQ pain.

Gallstones

Your gallbladder is located in your upper right abdomen just below your ribcage. Gallstones can form in the gallbladder if you have high cholesterol or there is an obstruction in there. A gallbladder infection or bile duct blockage due to gallstones can cause pain in your upper right abdomen area. The pain associated with a gallbladder attack can come on suddenly and feel very intense.

Sharp upper right abdominal pain is also one of the side effects of a gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy). After a gallbladder removal, you may need to follow a gallbladder removal diet to prevent post cholecystectomy side effects such as indigestion and weight gain.

According to the journal BMJ, gallstones cause severe constant pain in the upper right quadrant. The discomfort can last between one and several hours and it can be difficult to get relief. 8

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that along with intensifying pain below your right ribcage, gallbladder issues can also cause the following: 9

  • Back pain between your shoulder blades
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin (in serious cases)
  • High fever with chills

If you have severe upper right quadrant pain that gets worse and doesn’t go away, you should visit your doctor for the best treatment.

Pancreatitis

The head of your pancreas is located on the right side of your upper abdomen. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) can cause persistent right-sided abdominal pain.

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Doctors from Cedars-Sinai say that pancreatitis can be caused by gallstones, drinking large amounts of alcohol, certain medications, or high-fat content in your blood (high triglycerides). This results in varying degrees of upper right abdominal pain. 10

Other symptoms of pancreatitis are:

  • Upper belly pain that radiates to your back
  • Rapid pulse
  • Stomach pain that is worse after eating
  • Tenderness in the upper right abdomen

It’s important to eat a healthy diet and avoid excess alcohol to help keep your pancreas healthy. Pancreatic problems have also been associated with one of the causes of type 2 diabetes.

Bowel obstruction

Bowel obstructions can be a result of underlying health issues and can cause sharp pains in the right side of your abdomen.

According to Dr. Christy Hopkins from the University of Utah School of Medicine, pain from bowel obstructions often happens on the right side. This is because the right colon has a larger capacity and lesions in the right colon that can grow quite large. 11

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic report that possible causes of intestinal obstructions are: 12

  • Hernias
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Scar tissue after abdominal surgery
  • Impacted feces
  • Tumors

The Cleveland Clinic reports that as well as abdominal cramping and pain, a bowel or intestinal obstruction can also cause:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation and a possible inability to pass stool at all

If you have chronic constipation and other possible signs that you have an intestinal obstruction, you should see your doctor.

Problems with the liver

Your liver is located in your upper right abdomen and some liver conditions can cause pain in that area.

Problems with your liver that result in upper abdominal pain can be difficult to diagnose. Dr. Benjamin Wedro on MedicineNet says that some reasons for liver disease could be: 13

  • Drinking too much alcohol regularly
  • Taking statins for cholesterol
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Too much iron

Dr. Wedro says that upper right quadrant pain is a symptom commonly associated with liver disease. However, you will usually experience some of the following symptoms if the right side abdominal pain is caused by your liver:

  • Yellow discoloration of your skin
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fatigue and general feelings of weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

To help prevent liver disease, it’s essential to avoid habits that damage your liver. This includes drinking too much alcohol, getting too little sleep, smoking, and being overweight.

Lung issues

Medical issues with your right lung can result in sharp stabbing upper abdominal pains on the right side. Some common problems with the lungs that cause chest pain are pleurisy, pneumonia, or a collapsed lung.

Pleurisy. When the fluid in the protective membranes around your lungs become inflamed, the result can be sharp upper chest pains. Doctors from the National Health Service say that the first sign of pleurisy is sharp chest pains on the side of the affected lung. Accompanying symptoms of pleurisy can be pain in your shoulder, shortness of breath, or a dry cough. 14

Pneumonia. A viral or bacterial infection can affect your right lung or left lung or both at the same time. Researchers from PubMed Health say that one of the symptoms of pneumonia is mild to severe chest pains. A serious case of pneumonia will have signs of high fever, coughing up phlegm, vomiting, or diarrhea. 15

The journal Respiratory Medicine Case Reports reported that some types of pneumonia can also cause lower right abdominal pain. 16

Pneumothorax (collapsed lung). A right lung collapse or left lung can happen for a number of reasons. Dr. John Cuhna on eMedicineHealth says that one of the symptoms of a collapsed lung is sharp stabbing chest pains that are worse when breathing deeply. The pain may also radiate to the back or shoulders. 17

It’s important to keep your lungs in good health and avoid the signs of early lung disease. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding smoking are all good ways to care for your lungs naturally. You should also be aware of the early signs of lung cancer.

Lower Right Abdominal Pain: Common Causes

The lower right abdominal area just above the pelvis contains organs like the appendix, colon, and part of a woman’s reproductive system. Although the kidneys are located in your upper torso, kidney-related pain if often felt in the lower abdominal area (lower right quadrant or LRQ).

Appendicitis

Your appendix is a small organ found in your lower right abdomen and appendicitis can cause excruciating pain on your right side.

However, in many cases, the first symptom of appendicitis is pain around your belly button. This is usually intermittent pain that feels like a deep aching feeling. Doctors from the National Health Service say the pain then travels to your lower right-hand side and becomes more intense. Then the pain becomes a constant severe ache causing a great deal of discomfort. 18

Other symptoms that can accompany appendicitis include:

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  • Tenderness and pain when you press on the lower right abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Fever

Appendicitis can quickly become a medical emergency. If you have any of the symptoms of an inflamed appendix, you should seek medical help immediately.

Diverticulitis

LRQ pain associated with appendicitis can often be mistaken for a condition called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is when small sacs or small pockets develop in the colon and become inflamed.

According to the Yonsei Medical Journal, the right lower quadrant pain can be a common symptom of diverticulitis. This often happens in your lower right abdomen because most of your colon is found there. Right-sided pain from diverticulitis usually occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. Pain in the lower left abdomen is also a symptom. 19

If diverticulitis is causing pain in the right side of your abdomen, you will most likely also have the following symptoms:

  • Passing greasy stools
  • Chills or fever
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or sometimes diarrhea

There are some ways of treating diverticulitis naturally. These include eating a diet rich in fiber, getting plenty of exercise, and taking aloe vera juice to calm irritation in your digestive tract.

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Kidney stones

A buildup of mineral deposits in your right kidney can result in kidney stones and cause severe right-side flank pain. Your kidneys are located in the middle of your back under the ribcage. The excruciating abdominal pain from kidney stones can be felt anywhere from your middle back to your groin.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that kidney stones can cause cramping pain in the abdomen, low back, or groin. The pain can be intermittent and come in waves of varying severity. Many say that kidney stone pain can be even worse than childbirth pain. 20

With kidney stones, you may also have these symptoms:

  • Passing bloody urine
  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection like painful urination and cloudy urine
  • Nausea and vomiting from the abdominal pain
  • Testicle pain (in men)

To get rid of kidney stones using natural remedies, you should drink diluted apple cider vinegar. Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar helps to dissolve kidney stones and will make them less painful to pass.

Kidney infection

An infection in your right kidney (pyelonephritis) could be to blame for sharp pains in your right flank, abdomen, or lower back.

According to the journal BMJ Clinical Evidence, the main symptoms that accompany kidney infection pain are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Urine that has a cloudy look or foul smell
  • Pain in your genitals

To diagnose kidney infections, doctors will check your urine for white blood cells and the presence of bacteria.

Crohn’s disease

Left-sided or right-sided lower abdominal pain is often a symptom of Crohn’s disease. This is an inflammatory bowel condition that affects the intestines.

Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info explains that lower right side belly pain is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease. Other symptoms of this painful digestive condition include: 21

  • Diarrhea
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Ulcers in the gut which may cause stools with blood
  • Leaky anus
  • Anemia if you have internal bleeding
  • Pain around the rectum

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Men and women can suffer from lower abdominal pain on either side if they have a urinary tract infection. UTIs develop if bacteria enter your urinary tract and can cause inflammation and pain anywhere from your genitals to your kidneys.

Dr. Trina Pagano on WebMD says that pain in the lower abdomen just above your pelvis is a common symptom of a UTI. 22 Also, according to medical information published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the typical signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection include: 23

  • Flank pain on either side
  • Chills and fever
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvis
  • Increased urgency to pee
  • Passing urine that has an off color
  • Abdominal pain while urinating

To prevent UTI from getting worse it’s important to treat the first symptoms of it. To find out what you can do, please read my article on natural urinary tract infection remedies.

Right Side Abdominal Pain in Men Only

Let’s look at the 2 most common causes of abdominal pain in the lower right abdomen that only affect men.

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion describes the condition where one of the testicles rotates in the scrotum and cuts off the blood supply to the scrotum. If the right or left testicle twists, then you will feel pain in the genitals and lower abdomen.

According to emergency medical consultant Dr. Timothy Rupp, the most common symptom of testicular torsion is severe scrotal pain that radiates to the lower abdomen. You may also have nausea and vomiting from the intense pelvic pain. 24

You should see a doctor immediately if you have sudden testicle pain as testicular torsion is a medical emergency.

Inguinal hernia

Although inguinal hernias can affect anyone, they are more common in men than women. Inguinal hernias cause lower abdominal pain when part of the small intestine pushes through the inguinal canal in the groin.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases report that an inguinal hernia will cause a noticeable bulge in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms of an inguinal hernia are: 25

  • Pain or discomfort in the groin that gets worse if you strain, lift something heavy, or exercise
  • Burning sensation or constant aching in the groin
  • Enlarged scrotum

If the lower abdominal pain suddenly gets worse and you have a bulge in your groin, you should seek medical help promptly.

Right Side Abdominal Pain in Women Only

There are many conditions that cause pain in the right abdominal area of women.

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Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause pain on either side of the lower abdomen or pelvic area depending on which side is affected. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus and can intensify the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Doctors from UCLA Health report that the abnormal endometrial tissue causes lower abdominal pain and cramping. This happens because it contracts and bleeds along with the uterus during the menstrual cycle.

Apart from pelvic pain, other symptoms of endometriosis can include:

  • Pain just before or just after the period
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Ovulation

Some women experience lower right side abdominal pain when they ovulate mid-cycle. The side of the cramping pain usually depends on which ovary releases the egg. Painful ovulation is also referred to as “mittelschmerz” (which is German for “middle pain”).

Doctors from the Victoria State Government says that other types of pain associated with ovulation include: 26

  • Lower abdominal cramping about 2 weeks before your next period
  • The pelvic pain can switch sides each month or it can stay on the same side for a few cycles.
  • Abdominal pain varies from woman to woman – some feel mild twinges in the lower abdomen, others have sharp abdominal pains
  • The right side abdominal pain or left side pain can last from a few minutes to 48 hours

Ovarian cysts

Sudden sharp pains in your lower right abdomen could happen if you have ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are normal during the menstrual cycle and many women don’t show signs of ovarian cysts.

According to obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Wayne Blocker, the cysts on the ovaries become painful if they grow or rupture. This can result in symptoms like lower abdominal or pelvic pain. For some women, the pain can be intermittent, for others the pain is sharp and sudden.

Other symptoms of ovarian cysts are:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle with irregular periods
  • Lower back pain
  • Chronic abdominal pain during your monthly cycle
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal bloating and tenderness

Pelvic congestion syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome is another cause of abdominal pain in women that can affect either side of the pelvis. The reason for the pelvic pain is that veins in the pelvis become dilated and twisted, just like varicose veins. 36 , 37

The symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome include:

  • Sharp throbbing pain in the lower abdomen (although some women just experience dull aches)
  • Pelvic pain that starts 7-10 days before your period
  • Pelvic pain after sexual intercourse
  • Lower back pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding and spotting
  • Clear watery vaginal discharge

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Infections and inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries can cause right side abdominal pain in women. Pelvic inflammatory disease can be the result of a sexually transmitted infection when bacteria affect the reproductive organs.

According to Dr. David Soper, who is an obstetrician and gynecologist, the most common symptom of a pelvic inflammatory disease is pain in the lower abdomen. The symptoms of PID are usually noticed at the end of the menstrual period.

Other accompanying symptoms of PID can include:

  • Vaginal discharge with a foul odor (due to bacterial infection)
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain while urinating

If you have any signs of a vaginal infection, you should see your doctor for a checkup.

Right Side Abdominal Pain in Women Due to Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you will experience cramping and lower abdominal pains due to hormonal changes and the baby growing. Let’s look at some of the common reasons for abdominal pains during pregnancy and when the symptoms require medical attention.

Growing baby

It is natural that as your baby grows, changes in your uterus will result in some mild abdominal pains that don’t last long.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the abdominal pain might only happen when you sneeze or cough. This kind of light pelvic pain is common during the first trimester. If you experience anything more than mild, occasional cramping or you have unusual discharge at the start of pregnancy, you should speak to your healthcare provider. 29

Round ligament pain

During pregnancy, it is normal to have occasional sharp jabbing pains during your second or third trimester. This is a condition called round ligament pain.

Gynecologist Dr. Traci Johnson explains that the round ligament connects the uterus to your groin. The round ligament stretches as the womb grows. Dr. Johnson says that round ligament pain usually affects your right lower abdominal area and is caused when ligament tightens quickly. 30

Reasons why you may get sudden spasms of pain in your lower belly include:

  • Straining your abdominal muscles while laughing, sneezing, or coughing
  • Turing over in bed
  • Standing up too quickly

Braxton Hicks contractions

One reason for lower abdominal cramping towards the end of your pregnancy is Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labor.

According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, the dull aches in your lower abdomen can feel like labor contractions. However, unlike contractions associated with childbirth, Braxton Hicks contraction pain doesn’t come at regular intervals. They may feel more like menstrual cramps and create a tight sensation across the lower abdomen. 31

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a potentially serious complication of pregnancy that can result in lower abdominal pains.

OB/GYN Dr. Traci Johnson says that preeclampsia happens because the placenta stops functioning properly for some reason. The warning signs of preeclampsia are: 32

  • Abdominal pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of the hands, legs, and feet
  • High levels of protein in urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Excessive vomiting and nausea

During your pregnancy, it’s important to get good prenatal care so your healthcare provider can regularly check blood pressure and look for other signs of preeclampsia.

Ectopic pregnancy

Another serious cause of right side abdominal pain or left side pains in the abdomen with vaginal bleeding is an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the fetus grows outside of the uterus.

According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy usually occur 6-8 weeks after the last menstruation. Some of the symptoms are similar to a regular pregnancy like: 33

  • No period
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea in the morning or at other times
  • Breasts get larger

However, more serious complications include internal bleeding. Ectopic pregnancies are viewed as a medical emergency. If you notice any symptoms that you might be pregnant and have abdominal cramping and irregular vaginal bleeding, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Miscarriage

Another complication of pregnancy that causes sharp abdominal cramping and possible vaginal discharge is a miscarriage.

According to doctors from the National Health Service, symptoms of a possible miscarriage include: 34

  • Painful cramping in your pelvic area
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or bloody fluid
  • The signs of being pregnant like morning sickness or breast changes disappear.

Sharp Pain in the Right Side of the Abdomen

The most common reasons for experiencing sharp lower abdominal pains on your right side are:

  • Appendicitis
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Trapped gas
  • Pleurisy
  • Collapsed lung
  • Testicular torsion
  • Painful ovulation
  • Round ligament pain
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Miscarriage

When to See a Doctor about Right Side Abdominal Pain

Thankfully, most cases of abdominal pain on the right side, even an occasional sharp pain in your abdomen, is nothing to worry about.

Because some types of right side abdominal pain can be a symptom of something serious, doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise seeing your doctor in the following cases:

  • Severe abdominal pain without letup
  • Pass bloody stools
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • The painful area of the abdomen is tender to touch
  • Bloating
  • Constant dull aching pain in your right abdomen or left side.

Read these related articles:

  • Lower Back and Stomach Pain: Possible Causes and Treatments
  • Burning Sensation in Stomach – Causes and Treatments
  • Stomach Spasms: Causes and the Best Natural Treatments

Medical Sources

  1. MedicineNet. Abdominal pain causes.
  2. NIH. How can I describe pain to my healthcare provider?
  3. HopkinsMedicine. Gas in the digestive tract.
  4. MayoClinic. Gas and gas pains.
  5. MedicineNet. Indigestion.
  6. J Clin Med Res. 2009 Oct; 1(4): 247–248.
  7. MayoClinic. Shingles.
  8. BMJ. 2001 Dec 1; 323(7324): 1294–1297.
  9. MayoClinic. Gallstones.
  10. Cedars-Sinai. FAQ about pancreatic and biliary diseases.
  11. Medscape. Small-bowel obstruction.
  12. ClevelandClinic. Small bowel obstruction.
  13. MedicineNet. Liver disease.
  14. NHS. Pleurisy.
  15. PubMedHealth. Pneumonia: symptoms.
  16. Respir Med Case Rep. 2012; 5: 29–30.
  17. eMedicineNet. Collapsed lung (pneumothorax).
  18. NHS. Appendicitis.
  19. Yonsei Med J. 2007 Jun 30; 48(3): 511–516.
  20. MedicineNet. Kidney stones.
  21. PatientInfo. Crohn’s disease.
  22. WebMD. What are the symptoms of UTIs?
  23. JAMA. 2014 Feb 26;311(8):844-854.
  24. Medscape. Testicular Torsion in emergency medicine.
  25. NIDDK. Inguinal
  26. BetterHealth. Ovulation pain.
  27. eMedicineHealth. Ovarian cysts.
  28. MSDManuals. Pelvic congestion syndrome.
  29. AmericanPregnancy. Cramping during your pregnancy.
  30. WebMD. Round ligament pain during pregnancy.
  31. MedicineNet. Braxton-Hicks contractions.
  32. WebMD. Preeclampsia and eclampsia.
  33. MedicineNet. Ectopic pregnancy.
  34. NHS. Miscarriage.
  35. MayoClinic. Abdominal pain.
  36. MSD Manual .Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
  37. WebMd. Pelvic congestion syndrome

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The Main Causes of Right Side Abdominal Pain (Extensive Guide) was last modified: December 3rd, 2019 by Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer

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Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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