Pain on the lower right side of your body, near your abdomen, could have several different causes. Sometimes, the pain will get better on its own. Other times, it requires immediate medical attention or surgery.
Any time you have pain on the lower right side of your body, you should get it checked out, recommends Dr. Randell Wexler, a primary care physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
When to See a Doctor
It’s important to monitor how intense your pain is and for how long you’ve had it. It’s time to see a doctor promptly for pain on the lower right side of your body if:
— The pain isn’t getting better after a day or two.
— The pain is unbearable.
— You have bursts of sudden pain that take place over a couple of days.
When you see a doctor for lower right side pain, Dr. Niket Sonpal, an internist and gastroenterologist and adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City, recommends sharing the following information:
— Any activities you’ve done in the past day or two.
— Medications you’ve used.
— Other symptoms you have had.
— Anything else unusual that has happened.
This information can help your doctor better pinpoint what may be wrong.
Some of the most common causes for pain on the lower right side of your body near your abdomen are:
— Gas or indigestion.
— Inguinal hernia.
— Kidney problems.
— For women, pelvic conditions or ectopic pregnancy.
— For men, testicular torsion.
Here’s more information on some of the more common causes of pain on the right side of the abdomen.
Your appendix is in the lower right part of your abdomen. It’s shaped like a finger, and it’s about 4 inches long. Although the appendix is part of your digestive tract, its function isn’t fully clear to health experts.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of your appendix. It’s one of the most common causes for pain on the lower right side of your body, says Dr. Matthew Brady, a general and colorectal surgery specialist with Mission Hospital and South Orange County Surgical Medical Group in Mission Viejo, California.
Appendicitis could be caused by a blockage that leads to an infection. If it’s not treated, it can result in the appendix rupturing.
In addition to pain on the lower right side of your abdominal area, other symptoms of appendicitis include:
— Constipation or diarrhea.
— Not feeling hungry.
— Swelling in the abdominal area.
An appendicitis is a medical emergency. The treatment for appendicitis is almost always surgery. If there is an infection, you also may have to take antibiotics, Sonpal says.
[Read: Abdominal Pain in Kids.]
Gas or Indigestion
A less serious cause of pain on the lower right side of your body is trapped gas or indigestion. These are typically associated with the types or the amount of foods you eat. In addition to pain, symptoms of gas or indigestion include:
— Passing gas.
You can help your pain for gas by taking over-the-counter medicine for gas relief. You should also monitor what foods you eat that may lead to gas or indigestion over time and aim to avoid or eat less of those foods in the future. Alcohol, high-fat and processed foods are more likely to agitate your body, Sonpal says.
Eating smaller meals also can help, Brady adds.
Although gas and indigestion are not medical emergencies, talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about how frequently you experience them or if there’s a sudden change in how often you have these symptoms.
An inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin area that becomes more noticeable when you’re coughing or standing up. This is just one type of hernia, and it’s much more common in men. Inguinal hernias can occur on either side of the body but tend to occur more often on the right side. In addition to pain on the right side of the body, symptoms include:
— A heavy or full feeling in the groin.
— Pain when coughing.
— Pain when exercising.
See a doctor if you have mild pain or a noticeable area in the groin that is bulging. You should seek immediate care if that area is turning another color, such as red or purple and if it’s causing other symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting. This could indicate a strangulated hernia, which can be life-threatening.
The kidneys are located right below the rib cage, and there’s one on each side of your body. Kidneys have several important roles, such as removing waste from the body and releasing hormones to help control blood pressure and vitamin D health.
A potentially serious cause of pain on the lower right side of the body is a kidney infection or kidney stones. Kidney stones are mineral and salt deposits that form in different shapes and sizes in the kidneys. A kidney infection is one type of urinary tract infection, or UTI. In addition to pain on the side or back of your body, symptoms associated with kidney stones or a kidney infection include:
— A fever.
— Cloudy urine.
— Feeling like you need to pee but only being able to urinate a small amount for kidney stones. For a kidney infection, you may feel a strong need to pee frequently.
It’s important to see a doctor promptly if you think you have a problem with your kidneys, says Dr. Sunitha D. Posina, a board-certified internist and locum hospitalist in New York City. Although a kidney infection could be treated at home with antibiotics and pain medication, kidney stones sometimes require a special procedure, especially if the stone is causing an obstruction, or if there’s a large stone that can’t be passed through urine, she explains.
Pelvic Conditions or Ectopic Pregnancy in Women
There are several pelvic conditions in women that can cause pain on the lower right side of the body. One common, but less serious, cause is menstrual cramps. Other more serious causes include:
— An ectopic pregnancy. This means that the embryo has grown outside of the uterus. Symptoms include a sharp pain, as well as vaginal bleeding and dizziness for some women, Posina says. An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency.
— An ovarian cyst. This means that a cyst has formed on the outside of one of the ovaries. Fever, severe pain, weakness and vomiting also may occur with an ovarian cyst. Not all cysts will cause pain or other symptoms. For instance, you may develop ovarian cysts every time you have your period and not know it. However, if a cyst is severe enough to cause the symptoms listed here, see a doctor promptly to make sure it has not caused twisting of the ovary, Posina advises.
— Endometriosis. In women with endometriosis, tissue grows outside of the uterus, where it normally wouldn’t be. The tissue grows primarily around the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can cause pain, especially during menstrual cycles.
Testicular Torsion in Men
Testicular torsion can occur in men when the testicles, which produce sperm and testosterone, twist the spermatic cord. This reduces blood flow to a man’s genital area, Posina says. In addition to lower right abdominal pain, other symptoms of testicle torsion are:
Testicle torsion usually requires surgery to untwist the spermatic cord.
At-Home Pain Management for Pain on Right Side of Abdomen
Although you should see a doctor promptly for many of the conditions mentioned above, there are some ways that you can manage less severe pain at home.
Here are a few tips:
— Take acetaminophen. Although you could use other common pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, those can be harder on the digestive tract and could possibly irritate any stomach pain you’re having, Wexler says. Additionally, common pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen shouldn’t be used if someone is on blood thinners, he adds.
— Drink more water or tea with ginger and mint, Brady advises.
— Apply a hot water bottle or hot compress where it hurts.
— Watch what you’re eating to see if any particular foods are causing pain.
— Perform some gentle, relaxing stretches, Wexler recommends.
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