When I Bend Over My Right Side Hurts – Do I Have A Gallbladder Attack?

There are multiple reasons why your right side could be hurting when you bend over. Ranging from less severe issues like indigestion to severe problems like kidney stones. Some are women-related, while others are men-related issues too. A gallbladder attack is one such serious issue where the pain could be very acute. You can narrow down your problem by noticing other symptoms with varying degrees of pain. But getting it diagnosed by your doctor is the key to getting it treated in time.

Whether it’s a sharp pain or a slow pain that lasts for a few minutes when you bend over on your right side, it’s never a good sign.

If there is pain and it has been there for a long time now, you need to focus on it and notice other symptoms. The pain you’re witnessing on your right side when bending over could be due to multiple reasons.

There could be as many as 20 potential causes for your pain. So, let’s explore these causes, and you can pinpoint the reason behind this pain.

Whether you need to consult with your doctor or not is also something you can ascertain after going through potential causes and depending on the varying degree of pain.

Causes for pain on your right side

Depending on the kind of pain you experience, it could be anything from indigestion to hernia. Only you can ascertain the level of pain you’re handling currently.

But I can let you know that there are different levels of pain you might be witnessing:

  • Mild to severe pain
  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain

There are different causes for the kind of pain you’re experiencing. While some can be less severe causes, others are pretty serious and need immediate attention from a professional.

Then there is gendered specific pain too those different genders might face. So let’s take a look at these causes.

Less serious causes for pain on your right side

A young man is clenching the right side of his stomach and is heading to the bathroom with a toilet paper roll.

These kinds of causes will give you temporary pain on the right side of your abdomen.

Most of these will get resolved on their own, but sometimes even these might become too severe for you to handle and, in the end, will make you seek medical attention.

1. Indigestion

A prevalent issue amongst all ages is the pain from indigestion. You might get a feeling of fullness and nausea at the same time.

It’s when your stomach has trouble digesting the food, which results from many causes. You might also experience heartburn as another symptom besides the pain.

2. Gas

Bacteria cause the gassy feeling you might be feeling in your digestive tract or by swallowing too much air. Drinking carbonated drinks is a significant cause of gas.

You can practically feel the pain as gas travels from your intestines to let itself out. You’ll feel bloated and full too. It might also escape in the form of burps.

3. Constipation

If you’ve been having trouble passing regular stool for many days now, you will obviously experience pain on your right side of the abdomen.

It’s because there is not much fiber and water in your diet regularly. Thus, facing issues in passing stool.

4. Muscle pull and strain

You might have pulled or strained a muscle, which can quickly happen if you’re an active person and might have resulted from your physical activities. You might have put too much strain on yourself or stretched too much than required.

The area affected in the abdomen area will swell up as a result, and you’ll feel a sharp pain. You won’t be able to move quickly as your muscles are strained.

5. Muscle spasm

Unlike a muscle pull or strain, a muscle spasm only lasts for a few seconds. It then goes away on its own or might require another person’s assistance in making it go away.

It’s an unintentional muscle twitch and can be pretty painful for those couple of seconds you might experience it.

Make sure you stay hydrated and have good levels of magnesium, calcium, and potassium maintained.

6. Gastroenteritis

If you suffer from pain caused by gastroenteritis, then you’ll experience inflammation caused by bacteria, viral, or parasitic infection.

Other symptoms you might need to look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abnormal sweating, muscle pain, and joint stiffness.

7. Gastritis

You’ll feel nauseated or feel like vomiting as other side effects. Your upper and lower sides of the abdomen might hurt as it affects your stomach lining significantly.

Serious causes for pain on your right side

These causes will need you to visit your doctor and get the proper treatment as it can be pretty painful to go through these.

1. Appendicitis

Besides pain in your lower right abdomen, you’re also feeling nauseous, vomiting, feverish, and you see abdominal swelling, then you might have appendicitis.

Your appendix is a small finger-like pouch extending down from the large intestine. Pain is caused when it becomes infected and inflamed. If you don’t pay immediate attention, it could even burst.

2. Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause intense pain in your abdomen. Sometimes, doctors will recommend you take certain medicines to help pass the stones through the urinary tract, but other times, surgery is needed.

It’s formed when tiny crystals of calcium, uric acid, or other chemicals form in your kidneys. Other symptoms include blood in urine, painful urination, nausea, chills, and even fever.

3. Kidney infection

Kidney infection will usually start as a urinary tract infection. It’ll also cause other symptoms such as:

  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea

4. Inflammatory bowel disease

IBD represents a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract. It can be excruciating and disruptive, in rare cases even life-threatening. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of IBD.

5. Irritable bowel syndrome

Although it’s not clear what causes irritable bowel syndrome, certain foods are believed to have triggered this syndrome, such as dairy, wheat, and citrus items.

Other than obvious pain in the abdominal area, diarrhea, excess gas, and mucus in the stool are other apparent symptoms.

6. Hernia

A hernia is somewhat visible because an organ or other body part starts pushing through the muscle wall. It’s pretty painful and can causes hindrances in day-to-day activities.

Female issues that could cause pain on your right side

A young woman is laying on the sofa holding on to the right side of her body, as she's having menstrual pain.

1. Menstrual pain

A lot of women experience menstrual cramps in their lower abdomen during their periods.

Depending on a woman to a woman, it may also affect their back or their thighs even. While some pain is normal and can be taken care of with a heating pad, excessive pain needs to be checked by a doctor.

2. Ovarian cyst

Sometimes a fluid-filled sac called a cyst would develop on one of the ovaries. There are various kinds of cysts. It can cause:

  • Back pain
  • Pelvic pain during or before your menstrual cycle
  • Painful intercourse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful bowel movements

3. Pelvic inflammatory disease

PID is an inflammation of the reproductive organs. It is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other infection. A person suffering from PID will go through:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Unusual discharge and odour from your vagina
  • Fever

4. Endometriosis

Endometriosis occurs when tissue that lines the insides of the uterus starts to grow elsewhere, such as ovaries, bowel, or around the pelvis.

Other than pain in the pelvic area, you’ll suffer from painful periods, painful bowel movements, cramps during or around menstruation, pain after intercourse. All these are signs of having endometriosis.

5. Ectopic pregnancy

You get a sharp pain in the side of your abdomen and pelvis if suffering from this issue. It’s when a fertilized egg doesn’t attach itself to the uterus but instead settles into a fallopian tube or elsewhere in the abdominal cavity, thus called an ectopic pregnancy.

Other symptoms include:

  • Shoulder or neck pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Light to heavy vaginal bleeding

Male causes for pain on your right side

1. Inguinal hernia

While both sexes can experience this kind of hernia, it’s more prevalent among males and more painful.

Men might face a sharp pain on one side of the groin triggered by coughing, exercising, or bending over.

One suffering from this issue, a tissue pushes through the abdominal wall and into the inguinal canal. The canal surrounds the spermatic cords in males and the uterus ligament in females.

2. Testicular torsion

This issue occurs when the spermatic cord that carries blood to the scrotum becomes twisted, called testicular torsion. Men who suffer feel pain in the scrotum and the side of the lower abdomen. Their scrotum might swell up, causing nausea and fever too.

Diagnosing pain in right side abdomen

While experiencing pain in your right side when you bend down can mean many different things, as we just explored various possibilities behind such pain. Depending on the various degree of pain, too, there are other treatments.

You can narrow down your cause of pain on the right side of the abdomen, but you still need proper treatment from your doctor. For examining and diagnosing, they might perform various tests. Such tests include:

Ultrasound – An ultrasound helps detect tumors, examine the ovaries and uterus during pregnancy, examining a man’s prostate, and recognizes other issues. It uses sound waves to create images inside the body.

CT scans – Provides a more detailed view than a standard X-ray.

MRI scans – Using a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed views of organs and other soft tissues.

Endoscopy – Is a long, thin tube inserted down the throat and through the esophagus to the small intestine to look for bacterial infections and other possible issues.

Blood tests – Blood tests are pretty helpful for a lot of things. If white blood cells are increased, it can help indicate something is wrong.

Specialists who can help

Your doctor can refer you to different kinds of specialists too after a general examination such as:

  • Gastroenterologist (specializing in the digestive system)
  • Urologist (specializing in the urinary tract and male reproductive system)
  • Obstetrician gynecologist (specializing in women’s health)

How can I prevent right-sided abdominal pain?

There are various ways your doctor might recommend you treat your pain in the right side of the abdomen. Depending on the severity of the cause and pain, there are various ways such as:

Taking your time

Conditions such as indigestion, gas, pulled or stretched muscle, and even menstrual cramps might just need some time to heal. Using some home treatments such as using a heating pad or resting for some time can help immensely.

Balanced diet

There are specific issues that could be troubling you only because you don’t have a balanced diet.

The food items in your current diet are not proper or include many junk, oily, or spicy foods. If you monitor your diet and try to eat most of your meals as balanced as possible, it can reduce these issues to a minimum.

Exercising

Inactivity can also harbor most of these issues. Exercising at least 4 times a week is a must for every adult to maintain a healthy body and mind.

Exercising will help to stay healthy and keep away most of these issues.

Surgery

Many of these issues might not get resolved just by taking medications and will further require you to go through surgery to get better.

Do I have a Gallbladder attack?

One other reason why you could be experiencing shooting pain in the upper-right side of your abdomen below the rib cage is that it’s a warning sign of gallbladder attack. Also known as acute cholecystitis or biliary colic.

The pain may be dull and achy or severe shooting pain that leaves you unable to do anything. The symptoms vary from person to person.

The typical cause of the attack is after eating a high-fat meal that lasts for 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. Though not always the cause of the attack, it’s a high factor for causing this attack.

This pain could be spread in the right shoulder in the front or back, between shoulder blades, and across the upper abdomen or lower chest.

Cause of gallbladder attack

Your gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ just below the liver that stores and releases extra bile into the small intestine to digest fats.

1. Gallstones

One cause of this pain is the formation of gallstones. Size varies from small to as big as a golf ball, but primarily pebble-sized.

  • Gallstones form if this bile contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin.
  • Another cause is if the gallbladder doesn’t empty entirely or frequently. The excess material in bile forms crystals, which clump together to form stones.

Gallstones attacks happen when these gallstones become infected with bacteria on their surface, when they irritate the inside of the gallbladder contraction, or when they move outside the gallbladder and block the bile flow by pugging a bile duct.

There are two different types of gallstones:

  • Cholesterol gallstones – Look white or yellow because they’re made out of cholesterol or fat and are the most common type of gallstones.
  • Pigment gallstone – It’s when your gallstone form because your bile has too much bilirubin, dark brown or black in color.

2. Other causes

You might also experience pain because of the spasm of the gallbladder or the bile duct as they swell with the obstructed bile.

If too much bile gets accumulated, then your gallbladder will swell and get inflamed too. This is when a patient suffers from gallbladder dysfunction.

Another type of pain in the gallbladder is due to:

  • Bile duct inflammation
  • Gallbladder sludge blockage
  • Gallbladder rupture
  • Acalculous gallbladder disease
  • Gallbladder polyps
  • Gallbladder cancer

Kinds of pain and other symptoms

There are different forms of pain a person suffering from a gallbladder attack might experience. These kinds might let you confirm if what you have is gallstones or not:

  • There might be sudden sharp pain from a few minutes to lasting for hours, even
  • Dull pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
  • You might also feel the pain radiating from the upper back to the shoulder
  • Stabbing pain just below the breastbone
  • Tenderness in the abdomen when bending down
  • Lower chest pain is often confused as a heart attack

Other symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eye
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored or pasty appearing stools

A gallbladder attack can trigger other issues if not treated with time and develop complications to different organs in the body. One such difficulty is starting liver problems. A blockage in the duct can back up bile in the liver, also causing jaundice.

Gallstones can also block the way to the pancreas. The pancreas helps digest your food too, so if they are blocked, it can lead to gallstone pancreatitis. You might experience similar pain and symptoms.

Diagnosing gallbladder attack

There are different tests done to diagnose if you’re suffering from a gallbladder attack and if you have gallstones. If yes, then how big.

The decision is based on the size to let it safely pass through urine or get the surgery done. Tests and scans that might be suggested include ultrasound, CT scan, abdominal X-ray, a liver function blood test, HIDA scan.

Surgery

The gallbladder isn’t an essential organ in your body as others are. So mostly, surgeries are done to take out the gallbladder as you can live without it. Then bile can easily flow from the liver directly into the small intestine through the hepatic duct instead of being stored in the gallbladder.

  • Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy – It’s when the patient can go home the same day. Done through laparoscopy as an outpatient procedure, it became a standard of care operation in the early 1900s instead of open Cholecystectomy.
  • Open Cholecystectomy – Is preferred if the gallbladder of the patient is severely infected, inflamed, or scarred. An incision is created under the rib cage in the upper right abdomen. But it’s rarely been practiced for a long time as laparoscopic procedure is considered much better. With open procedure patient has to stay longer in hospital, the pain is increased, and complications increase.

Preventing gallbladder attack

To prevent a gallbladder attack, you need to make some changes in your life which can help lower the chances. Even though gallstones can be genetic too but prevention is better than cure, so keeping this in mind, you should make the following necessary lifestyle changes:

  • Lose weight – Being overweight or obese will definitely increase the chances of a gallbladder attack.
  • Exercising regularly – A healthy lifestyle includes exercising regularly. Not anything too strenuous, but a person should exercise for 30-40 minutes.
  • Balanced diet – Since cholesterol is a significant factor in gallbladder attacks, you need to watch what you eat. Anything in excess will hamper your body, so eating things in moderation is promoted for a healthy lifestyle. Eating homemade healthy food rich in vegetables, fruits, and nuts is good for you.

To summarize

As we went into detail, there could be over 20 potential causes of why you could be experiencing pain in your right side whenever you bend down. The pain can vary from a dull to a stabbing kind of pain, indicating the severeness of the issue.

To narrow down the issue, you could focus on other symptoms you might be facing along with the pain. A gallbladder attack is amongst one of these issues, which can have complications if left untreated.

So, whenever you notice your pain, you should seek immediate help from your doctor to find out the issue and get the proper treatment.