Left Side Abdominal Pain

Common Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment Of Left Side Abdominal Pain 

Left side abdominal pain can be defined as any annoying or unpleasant sensation occurring in the abdomen to the left of an imaginary straight line drawn on the centre of your body (envisage this line, as running from just below the breast bone, through the belly button and down to the pubic area). See common causes of pain in this part of the abdomen and how to identify such causes and treat them where possible. You would be able to leave questions here too.

Why Left Side Abdominal Pain?

Common causes of left side abdominal pain.Some common causes of pain in the left side of the abdomen.

Pain on the left side of the abdomen is very common.

Because women obviously have more organs (womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries) in the abdomen, they are more likely to suffer with abdominal pain than their male counterpart - be it on the right or the left.

Also certain conditions that causes a left sided abdominal pain, like irritable bowel syndrome are more likely in women, thus making pain in this region more commonly seen in women.

Any injury or infection or strain on any of the organs on the left side of the abdomen could lead to a left sided abdominal pain.

Pain to this part of the abdomen could also arise from organs that are not directly found here - like pain in the left testicle in males could be "referred" to the left side of the abdomen.

For a better understanding of the origin and causes of pain on the left side of the abdomen, it is important to review the organs on the left side of the abdomen in which things could go wrong.

Organs On The Left Side Of The Abdomen

If you are experiencing pain on the left side of your abdomen, it is very likely that one or more of the following organs found on the left side of your abdomen is being affected.

  • The Skin over the left side of the abdomen - Herpes infection on the skin can cause severe burning pain over the left abdomen, even before the rash appears or after the blister is gone.

  • Muscles over the area - a pulled muscle on the left can cause pain.

  • Bones & cartilages over the upper abdomen - leading to costochondritis

  • The stomach. Gastritis or inflammation of the lining of the wall of the stomach, stomach ulcer or stomach cancer can cause left or central upper abdominal pain.
  • Lower part of the left lung pushes into the back of the abdomen. A lung infection or pneumonia affecting the lower part of the left lung can cause left upper abdominal pain.

  • Left edge of the liver (the most part of the liver lives on the right side of the abdomen, just under the right rib cage, spreading in a triangular fashion towards left side with the of the triangle just on the left half of the body). Hepatitis, fatty liver disease, or liver tumour that is predominantly on the left end of the liver can cause a left upper abdominal pain.
  • The left Kidney - Left kidney stone, or infection or tumour can cause a left upper or middle abdominal pain.
  • The Adrenal gland on the left. It is very rare for a disease affecting the adrenal gland to cause abdominal pain, except if one were to have a significant tumour of this gland.
  • The Pancreas - body and tail end of the pancreas can be affected by pancreatic cyst or tumour,  leading to a left upper or middle abdominal pain.
  • The Spleen - spleen pain can arise from spleen injury or infection like malaria.
  • Left Ureter. This is the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Stone trapped in the ureter can cause severe flank or loin pain.
  • Left half of the Transverse Colon or large intestine. Constipation, inflammatory disease like Crohns or Ulcerative colitis or even bowel cancer affecting the colon can lead to pain in the abdomen.
  • The Descending Colon.
  • Sigmoid Colon.
  • Part of the womb in women. In women a fibroid on the left half of the womb could be the cause
  • Left Fallopian tube in women. Infection of the tube (called salpingitis) can cause left sided abdominal pain
  • Left Ovary in women. This is a very common cause of pain in the left side of the abdomen, especially in women of childbearing age.
  • Blood vessels on the left side of the abdomen including the aorta. An aortic aneurysm or dissection can cause pain in the central or left side of the abdomen with collapse.

So, what are the common causes of pain on the left side of the abdomen? 

Common Causes Of Left Sided Abdominal Pain

There are a range of conditions that can bring on left sided abdominal pain. The list below highlights the most common causes. They are:

  • Infectious mononucleosis or Scarlet fever
  • Coeliac disease
  • Left testicular torsion
  • Bowel Or Intestinal Obstruction
  • Obstructed Inguinal Or Femoral hernia
  • Left lower lobe pneumonia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Spleen Pain from malaria or other causes of enlarged spleen
  • Lymphoma
  • Bowel Cancer
  • Adhesions
  • Pulmonary embolism - blood clots in the lungs
  • Hereditary Angioedema
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Porphyria
  • POEMS syndrome
  • Eosinophilic colitis
  • Intestinal polyps
  • Typhoid fever - more common in developing countries

Diagnosis And Treatment of The Top Five Causes Of Left Sided Abdominal Pain

Despite the long list of common causes of abdominal pain shown above, most of those conditions are actually not that common. The following are the top 5 most common causes of left sided abdominal pain and how to recognise or diagnose them as well as treatment options available for them:

1. Trapped Wind

  • Trapped wind or trapped intestinal gas is the accumulation and retention of more than the normal volume of gas in our gut.
  • We all produce gas in our bowel following the further break down of indigestible food by the bacteria found in our gut, as well as the air we swallow during talking, chewing and eating.
  • Normally, this gas passes out of our system by belching or farting. If for any reason we are unable to expel the excessive gas, it could cause distention of the wall of our gut, causing abdominal pain.
  • The Pain from trapped wind could be anywhere in the abdomen, though tends to be more common on the left side.
  • Have you ever heard your bowels making those loud noises after hurriedly having a meal or after a long speech? This is likely due to trapped wind.
  • Trapped wind is a very common cause of abdominal pain in babies, older children and adults.
  • It can be diagnosed just from the history and examination.
  • Treatment options could include doing nothing, or in severe cases, the use of peppermint oil capsules.
  • You can read more about trapped wind here.

2. Constipation

  • Constipation is the infrequent passage of stool or passing hard stools.
  • It is another common cause of central or left sided abdominal pain.
  • The suffer might not even realise that they have not been passing stools frequently.
  • Diagnosis is usually from the history, though an abdominal x-ray could help your doctor make a diagnosis of constipation.
  • Treatment for constipation include the use of simple pain killers like Paracetamol or Tylenol in severe pain cases as well as use of laxatives.
  • You can read more on constipation here.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition characterised by the presence of abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating that tends to be worse after eating and relieved by defecation. 
  • There could be associated passage of watery stools (diarrhoea-type ibs), hard stools and mucus (constipation-type ibs) or a mix of the two.
  • Other associated symptoms of ibs could also include lower back ache, increased frequency of urine, waking up to pass urine at night more than usual, tiredness and even pain during intercourse in a woman.
  • These symptoms must have been going on for 3 to 6 months to be able to make a diagnosis of ibs.
  • You would find more information and treatment of ibs here.

4. Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a very common cause of left sided lower abdominal pain, especially in older patients after the age of 50.

The wall of our colon is usually rugged though smooth.

Sometimes, especially in people who do not have enough roughage and fibers in their diet, the muscle of the inner wall of their large intestine things out at points of entry of blood vessels into the large bowels, creating finger-like outpouchings, referred to as diverticulum or diverticular disease.

The lumen of these unnatural out-pouching of the wall of the colon could then become blocked with feces and overtime, the trapped bacteria in the feces causes inflammation of the wall of the of the diverticulum, leading to what is referred to as diverticulitis.

  • About half of everybody over the age of 60 in many western countries do have diverticular disease and may go on to develop diverticulitis of varying degree
  • Most diverticulitis (more than 90%) occurs in the sigmoid colon which is the s-shaped part  of our large intestine found on the left lower abdomen
  • Symptoms of diverticulitis include moderate to severe lower left sided abdominal pain (though diverticulitis could also occur on the right side of the abdomen or any part of the gut), mild to moderate fever, poor appetite, change in bowel habit and sometimes passage of blood in stool.
  • If you are 50 years or older, suffering with a left side lower abdominal pain, made worse by pressing on the left side of the abdomen, have mild to moderate fever, you are suffering with an acute attack of diverticulitis until proven otherwise.
  • Diagnosis of diverticulitis is usually by means of the story, findings on examination and supported with a CT scan finding.
  • Treatment of diverticulitis is by means of a combination of antibiotics. The first choice is usually a combination of Amoxi-Clav (also called Augumentin, which contains 500mg amoxicillin and 125mg of Clavulinic acid) at a dose of 1 tablet three times a day and Metronidazole (Flagyl) at a dose of 500mg three times a day. If you are allergic to penicillin, your doctor may opt to use a combination of Ciprofloxacin 500mg twice daily with Metronidazole, 500mg three times daily.
  • If you have had diverticulitis once, it is likely that you would continue to have recurrence.
  • You can prevent this cause of left side abdominal pain by including more fruit and vegetables in your diet to provide rich fibers.

5. Left Sided Ovarian Cyst Rupture Or Twisting

The left ovary could develop ball like cysts. if these cysts twist along their long axis on the stalk that attaches them to the ovary, or worse still ruptures, they could cause immense pain in the left side of a woman's abdomen.

The symptoms of ovarian cyst problems include sudden or gradual onset left side lower abdominal pain, continuous, radiates to the lower back on that side and sometimes also spreads to the hip and upper thigh on the same side.

Most women may notice symptoms occurring within two weeks of their last period, though an ovarian cyst can occur at any time, depending on the actual underlying trigger.

Diagnosis is usually by means of a simple pelvic ultrasound scan or laparotomy.

Treatment is by means of emergency surgical correction or removal of the offending ovary.

When To Seek Medical Advice

It is important to remember that left sided abdominal pain is very common. Like pain in other parts of the abdomen in most instances it is caused by a condition that isn’t life threatening. However, causes of pain in this part of the abdomen can be serious and it is important to analyse your symptoms.

If you have severe pain in any part of your abdomen lasting more than one hour which is not going away despite use of pain medication, it is important that you seek medical advice.  You should also seek urgent medical advice if this sudden onset of left sided abdominal pain is accompanied with one of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting of coffee coloured material/ blood
  • Diarrhoea
  • Passage of dark or black tarry stool
  • Inability to pass urine
  • Passing urine frequently
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes)
  • Fever
  • Feeling faint
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Sweating/ cold sweats

If you have been suffering with pain in the left side of your abdomen for days or months, and you suffer one of the following symptoms, you should also see your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Recent change is bowel habit e.g. looser or harder stools
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating after eating, which is relieved with a bowel movement
  • Blood or mucus in your stools

Understanding Your Pain And Symptoms

When thinking about your pain, you need to consider the nature of your condition and think about:

  • Where exactly on the left side the pain focuses
  • When the pain started
  • The scale of the pain between 1 and 10, with one being mild discomfort and ten the most severe pain you have experienced
  • Whether there are any other symptoms associated with the pain

Do You Have Pain Elsewhere?

If the pain is in the upper left side of the abdomen, in other words, above the belly button, then click here too find out more about possible causes of upper left side abdomen pain.

If the pain is in the lower left side of the abdomen, in other words, below the belly button, click here too find out more about possible causes of lower left side abdomen pain.


Left Side Abdominal Pain? Have Your Say

Are you or a loved one suffering with abdominal pain on the left side? Or do you have past experience with pain in this part of your body? Share your experience with others and get support from our online community. Feel free to leave comments here too, especially if you read contributions by others and feel that you can comment on any of the issues raised.

Remember, to improve your chances of getting a response, please be as detailed as possible in your medical query, including your age and other information as requested in the form below:

What Other Visitors Have Said Regarding Their Left Sided Abdominal Pain Experience

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

left side pain for couple days 
I am 33 got pain in the left side d stomach and my back. Hi Donna, Many thanks for visiting us here at abdopain.com and requesting an online …

lower abdominal pain for a week 
Hi, my name is Leanne,i have been suffering from pain in my lower obdomen. the pain has got progressivly worse over the past week. I have previously …

On and off stomach pain for one day 
Hello, Im a 16 year old girl I have had this pain for about 24 hours and it is on and off peircing pain. It feels like i need to throw up most of the …

Mild left upper abdominal pain for approximately 9-10 months 
I just turned 54. Have been feeling discomfort upper left abdomen just under/at rib cage for the better part of a year. Started as a feeling of just …

Severe pain in left side....WHY? 
I am a 53 year old female with severe pain in my left side. I have been diagnosed with fourth stage kidney disease. My doctor says that it does not cause …

Stomach Pains 
i am a 28 year old male, and i have been having pains in the left side of my stomach and i went to see a doctor and all he said is it is just gas, but …

Left Side Abdominal Pain 
Hello my name is Teresa, i am 34 yrs old.i suffer from constipation occasionally and also i had asthma as a child. these past 2 weeks i have been experiencing …

Agonizing Pain For Over a Year 
I've been having abdominal pain, mostly the left side and middle, since March 12, 2011. It's not going away, and only seems to be getting worse. I …

pain on upper left side of the abdomen  
Hi ,this is urgent My grand mother age=60 ,has pain on her upper left side of the abdomen for the past 3 days. She has continuous pain and its very …

Endometriosis & Candida .... bowel pain, ovary pain??? 
I am suffering as I type with lower left bowel pain. I had surgery in August 2011 to diagnose and "treat" Endometriosis. Within 1 month of surgery …

Left Side Abdominal Pain - Is It Urgent ??? 
im a 15 year old girl and have really bad pain in my stomach first it was on the left side but is now predominantly on the right side... it is like a …

pain to the upper left abdomen 
im doing this for my fiance because she is not with me at the moment, she is with her family. she is 22 years of age. when she was younger, around the …

left sided abdominal pain which goes under left shoulder in back 
I have been having left sided abdominal pain which also hurts in my left back ribs and under my shoulder blade for 5 years---it stays for months and goes …

left side pain 
I am experieincing ,left sided discomfort fo about 14days now feels like someone has their fist pused there constantly, and like everything in the side …

Pain in left part below belly button. 
AGE:25 past view weak i felt pain just below belly on left side which then moved little above and it was severe.i made my color pale.it then moved to …

New pain 
Recently started feeling pain in my lower left abdomen region at the beginning of sex...the first initial penetration and a few of the following 'thrusts'... …

Left side pain in upper abdominal area 
I have had a pain on my left side off and on for the last few months. The pain is below my stomch, but above my belly button. When I first started …

left side abdominal Pain. 
I'm 21 year woman, since 10 months (Feb 2010) I'm suffering from abdominal pain in the left side of my stomach. but i don't get the pain continuously. …

Left Side Abdominal Pain constant 
My mother has always been a healthy person. she would exercise, eat healthy, little alcohol. Over the past two weeks she has had a blinding pain on …

period pain 
I am 20 years old and i have really bad period pain and when i get my period i get cloth blood dropping out of me.I get some really big ones dropping …

what is the reason for abdominal pain in the left upper area only during the night time? 
i am 25yrs old and i have PCOS from past 7 years.i didn't undergone for any treatment

Left Side Abdomanal Pain 
I am having a pulse-like sharp pain in the left side of my stomach. I do smoke and sometimes drink a lot, but i have GERD too. I never had the …

I have intermittent twisting pain of my left side, abdominal area. I would say flank pain. I have no left kidney, so that rules out kidney. I am thinking …

left pain like a stitch type pain  
this been gonig on for months on and off when i walk i get left side pain like a stitch now its there all the time wen i move when im sitting more so when …

Click here to write your own.

Mild lower pain on the left side  Not rated yet
Hi I started having pain in my lower left side but I feel it only when I lay face down and bring my right leg bent to my chest. I have no symptoms mentioned …

abdominal aches (small area left side began 1 hour ago) intermittent and one minute apart Not rated yet
I am 79. An hour ago I began having localized aches about the size of a quart, I guess, occurring regularly about a minute apart, lasting one second. …

4 weeks abdominal pain left side Not rated yet
Hi I had my left tube and ovary removed end of july on my left side. The recovery has been really long and for the last 4 weeks my tummy really hurts …

lower abdominal pain for 3 days, throwing up, diarrera Not rated yet
I am 39 years old female. I have lower abdominal pain with darriea Dear Elizabeth, I can only imagine the discomfort you must be experiencing …

Left sided pain Not rated yet
Left side pain, just below rib cage. 55 yrs old, smoker, high blood pressure. Pain persisted for three days now, passing blood in stool Hi. I am …

Pain in the left of abdomen for 3 weeks  Not rated yet
My wife was hospitlized for 3 days. She had abnormal low blood pressure. She was kept on morfine for pain on the left just below rib cage down to lower …

Lower left side stomach pain half hour after I eat Not rated yet
I am a 63 year old woman, I have been having lower left side pain for about 2 weeks, it starts about half hour after I eat and is followed by loose bowls. …

Severe left side abdominal pain for 1 week Not rated yet
56 years old. I have been having severe left side abdominal pain for 1 week. My belly is sensitive to the touch and the pain mostly on the left side. …

Cramps/Pain Not rated yet
Occasionally, I get up from a prone position and my left lower stomach groin muscles cramp into a tight ball of total pain. It is like a pulled muscle, …

left side abdominal pain  Not rated yet
I'm 23 old female single,weight:43kgs,height:5.4 left side abdominal pain and back ache from 2 months,brownish blood spotting from 10 days. sometimes …

Severe Lower Mid Left Sided Stomach Pain Not rated yet
I am a 58 Yr old female and for 2-3 days I've had a severe pain in my lower/mid left side of my stomach. It started hurting some in the right side today …

left side discomfort Not rated yet
i have this discomfort on the left side of my stomach no temp no nausea--lots of gas does not hurt when i like feel around my stomach but it is just a …

left side under the belly button abdominal pain Not rated yet
I had eptopic operation done four years ago,fybroid removed.so I have been on early menopause ever since,and lately(three days) I have been having pains.left …

Sharp pain on upper left side of stomach Not rated yet
Sharp pain on upper left side of stomach help! Hi I have had multiple lumbar and neck surgeries. I have also had foot surgeries as well. The …

I HAVE PCOS Not rated yet
I am 22 years of age. I have had horrible stomach pains as far as I can remember. I usually have them below my belly button, slightly to the left. I …

Click here to write your own.

If you've found the information here useful, you could show your appreciation by donating to help keep this site going.

Return To Home Page From Left Sided Abdominal Pain Page