Q:

Why do I have a sharp pain under my ribs?

A:

Pain under the ribs can signal various health conditions, depending on which side of the body the pain is felt and the symptoms that accompany the sensation, according to MedGuidance. Possible causes include heartburn, ulcers, Crohn's disease, broken ribs, liver damage or spleen irritation.

The rib cage is quite large and protects several vital organs within the body, so sharp pain felt under the ribs requires prompt medical analysis, explains MedGuidance.

Pain under the left rib cage is commonly associated with acid reflux, costochondritis, spleen rupture, irritable bowel syndrome, rib injuries, pneumothorax, pancreatitis, pericarditis, diverticulitis and splenic flexure syndrome, according to MedGuidance. Treatment for these ailments varies and can range from simple pain killer use to surgical intervention, according to a doctor's diagnosis of the patient's pain.

In extreme cases, people who experience pain under the right rib cage may have gallbladder disease or liver cancer. It is especially important to have this type of pain assessed by a doctor, notes MedGuidance. Rib pain that is accompanied by labored breathing and general chest discomfort constitutes a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible to rule out an impending heart attack, according to Healthline. Doctors are likely to run X-rays on a patient in order to see into the rib cavity. Abnormalities on an X-ray often require further testing with a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

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