Why Do I Feel Pain Under Right Rib Cage When Bending Over?

Pain under your right rib cage may be caused by diseases affecting the delicate organs located under the ribs. Some of the health conditions might be serious and life-threatening, while others require simple treatment procedures. It can be due to mere gas reflux, or you might have some severe health issues. Gallbladder, liver, musculoskeletal issues, pregnancy, Costochondritis, Pancreatitis, Ulcers or Acid Reflux disease, and Appendicitis can be the reason behind your right ribcage pain.

A while back, I was experiencing some sharp pains under my right rib cage. This feeling bothered me for some time before I finally decided to visit my local clinic. I was worried that I could be diagnosed with a severe health condition since I knew my liver was located on the right side.

The doctor checked and assured me that it wasn’t anything serious, but rather gas buildup in my large intestine. The gas caused me pain, and I was put on an anti-acid medication by my doctor, which helped me cope with the condition.

Could you be experiencing something similar to mine? If so, read through this article and learn about the different causes of pain under the right rib cage.

What causes pain under your right rib cage?

The ribcage serves as a protective shield for most of our delicate organs. So, feeling pain under the rib cage may often put us in panic mode.

My friend developed a sharp pain between the right and left rib cage in 2019, and he panicked, thinking it was a heart attack. We were relieved when we later learned it wasn’t a heart attack. So what causes the sharp pain?

Gas buildup in the digestive system

A young woman who has gas buildup in her body is laying down on the sofa because she's not feeling well.

Gas buildup in our intestines may be causing the uncomfortable pain we feel under the right rib cage. Did you know that our large intestines bend at two different places under our ribs?

At the hepatic flexure, the intestines bend to the right side. If gas gets trapped at the hepatic flexure, it causes pain under the right rib cage. This gas causes us pain and tenderness on this side and may confuse with gallstone symptoms.

If your doctor rules out that the pain may be due to gas, then some medications will relieve you of the pain in no time.

Gallbladder issues

As stated, most delicate organs like the gallbladder get protected by the rib cage. Your gallbladder gets located on the right side under the liver.

Many conditions that affect this organ will cause us a lot of discomfort. One of these conditions may be the cause of the pain under your right rib cage, especially when you bend over.

The following conditions may affect the gallbladder:

  • When facing biliary colic, the pain may be severe, fleeting, long, or short-lasting. Nausea and tenderness on the painful side will be associated with the biliary colic condition of the gallbladder.
  • A gallbladder attack may be the cause of the pain too. This condition occurs when a gallstone blocks the cystic duct. Other symptoms for gallbladder attack include:
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Chills in the body
  • Nausea
  • Acute pancreatitis due to gallstones may result in the pain you may be feeling as well. If your doctor diagnoses you with any issues related to your gallbladder, medication and related treatments will deliver you from the pain.

Liver disease

A young woman who is having pain around her right rib cage could possibly have liver disease.

Did you know that just below our right ribcage exists the liver? Although that sharp pain may not necessarily mean your liver has a problem, it could serve as an alarm to save this critical organ before things get worse.

This pain might be resulting from liver disease if the pain gets accompanied by the following symptoms.

  • Urine turns dark in color
  • Stool color changes to dull color
  • Development of jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue

If you experience these symptoms and severe pain under your right rib cage, seeing your doctor will be the best decision.

Musculoskeletal issues

A bruise, strain, or breaking of your ribs may cause pain. Sometimes sleeping in a bad posture may cause you a lot of pain later.

A fall or hit during sports may cause a fracture or bruise to the ribs. Sometimes sitting in one posture for too long may strain our muscles and give us sharp pain under the right rib cage later.  

This pain under the right rib cage may suggest any of the above probabilities. The intercostals muscles in this region may also get strained while doing sporting activities.

When we bend over, pressing or stretching these muscles, the result will be sharp pain under the rib cage area.

If you visit your doctor, medication to apply to the affected area helps a lot. For severe issues like rib fractures, more stringent measures will be taken by the doctor.

Pregnancy

A young woman is sitting down and checking her belly after finding out that she's pregnant.

During pregnancy, our bodies undergo many physical changes. For instance, in the third trimester, the uterus stretches up to the rib cage region.

When the baby puts a lot of pressure outwardly, it may interfere with your right rib cage section causing pain underneath it.  Other symptoms may include breast enlargement, difficulty in breathing, and heartburn.

The weight of the enlarged breasts on the chest may result in sharp pain whenever we bend over. This feeling later vanishes after giving birth, so it shouldn’t be a cause of alarm. Checking with your doctor also helps in reducing anxiety.

Costochondritis

If the cartilage connecting the rib cage and the breastbone called the Costochondritis swells, it may result in pain on the left or right rib cage area.

When bending over and the inflammation happens to be on the right side, you will feel the pain under your right rib cage.

There has never been a known cause of Costochondritis, but it might result from:

Pancreatitis

If the pancreas swells, gets infected, or gets contaminated, it may give you a sharp pain under your right rib cage, and bending becomes a struggle.

This pain may spread to the sides and the back making it hard to breathe. Sometimes bending forward may offer temporary relief.

Other symptoms associated with pancreatitis include:

This condition sets in after consuming too much food in a hurry and indulging in heavy alcohol drinking. Sometimes the pain may not be severe, with statistics showing that some people never experience abdominal pain associated with this disease.

With the correct medical diagnosis and treatment, you will feel better within a short period.

Ulcers or Acid Reflux disease

The H-pylori bacteria responsible for the bleeding of the stomach wall may cause ulcers in most people. Consuming high potency drugs may also lead to the development of ulcers.

When the stomach produces too much acid resulting in acid reflux, we may experience sharp pain under the right rib cage.

This pain will prevent you from bending over. It becomes easy to manage and treat acute pain under the right rib cage with the correct diet and medication.

Appendicitis

A middle aged man is sitting on the sofa clenching his right side of his stomach because of sharp pain, a possible sign of Appendicitis.

When the appendix, located on the rear end of the large intestines, gets contaminated and inflamed, it may result in pain under the right rib cage.

This condition needs an emergency response. The pain due to appendicitis will start from the navel area and spread on the right side under the rib cage.

For pregnant women, they may feel this pain on the upper side of the abdomen. This shifting happens because babies tend to relocate the appendix during pregnancy.

Other symptoms associated with appendicitis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Severe bloating
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Inflammatory bowel disease

This disease may cause severe swelling to the gut in its extreme state. If we suffer from this condition, we may often have abnormal bowel movements leading to vomiting.

The pain under our right rib cage results from gut inflammation. If we fail to treat this disease, it spreads to the large intestines causing a condition referred to as Crohn’s sickness.

Other symptoms associated with the condition include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

When treated, the condition heals, and the disturbing pain under your right rib cage vanishes.

What measures will help prevent these health conditions?

  • A diet involving a regimen helps cure intestinal irritations and swelling.
  • Medicines administered by health professionals, including non-steroid drugs, will cure illnesses.
  • In a few severe cases like rib fractures and gallstones, surgery helps in the treatment process.

Summary of factors contributing to pain under the right rib cage

Life-threatening causesLess-life threatening causes
Liver diseasepregnancy
PancreatitisMusculoskeletal issues
AppendicitisGas builds up in the large intestine
Gallbladder disease 
Acid Reflux and Ulcers 
Inflammatory bowel disease 
Costochondritis 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What organ is under the ribcage?

The ribcage protects various delicate organs under it. Some of these organs include the gall bladder, the liver, portion of the large intestine, and the lungs.

Why does my ribcage hurt when I bend over?

This article offers detailed accounts of the causes of pain under the right ribcage. Some of the diseases causing this pain include; gallbladder disease, liver disease, gases in the large intestine, and appendicitis.

What is rib flare?

This condition makes the lower ribs protrude instead of being tucked under the body under ordinary circumstances.

What does an inflamed liver feel like?

An inflamed liver will cause a sharp under the right ribcage and a tender feeling on that side.

An inflamed liver gives you jaundice, fever, and body chills. If you notice yellowing of the eyes and palms with a sharp pain under the ribcage, then your liver might be inflamed.

Final thought

Sharp pain under your ribcage may be a signal for severe and less severe health conditions. In this situation, never enjoy self-diagnosis, but rather, visit the doctor to get a thorough medical checkup.