Pain is the natural reaction of our body if there is something wrong. If a person feels pain, it signals him that he needs to see a doctor right away to give him advice on what to do. However, addressing pain is just the treating the surface of the problem. There is something big that is happening inside your body and the painful feeling is a wake up call for you to address that problem.
One of the common complains of patients when it comes to pain is the right side abdominal pain. It is one of the many puzzling symptoms of our body because there are many causes for right side abdominal pain therefore thorough assessment is needed. Moreover, on the right side of the abdomen, there are 2 quadrants, the upper and the lower abdomen. The same quadrants are also present in the left side. Knowing where the pain exactly originates can help the doctor diagnose your problem.
Organs On The Right Side Of The Abdomen
Knowing the organs present on the right side of the abdomen can help you and a medical professional pinpoint the cause of the problem. Furthermore, if you have knowledge on what are the different organs on the right side of your abdomen and its purposes, you will know what functions of the body are affected if a pain suddenly emerge on that side of the abdomen. Here are some of the major organs on the right side of the abdomen;
- Liver – One of the largest organs in the body. It performs many functions such as detoxification, breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein, and is important in the creation of some blood proteins. See : Liver pain – Location and Causes
- Gallbladder – This is where bile is produced, important component in breaking down biochemicals during digestion.
- Kidney – Responsible in filtering our blood and getting rid of wastes through urine, maintaining the water and electrolytes in our body, and control the acid-base concentration.
Picture 1 : Abdominal quadrants in human body
Image source : Adam
Picture 2 : Organs on the right side of the abdomen
Image source : wikimedia and edited by howshealth.com
Causes of Right Side Abdominal Pain
Aside from the major organs on the right side of the abdomen, there are also structures present such as the appendix, the right side of the colon, right side of the fallopian tube and many more, which makes it difficult to diagnose the cause of the right side abdominal pain. The following are some of the common causes of right side abdominal pain;
- Appendicitis – One of the most common causes for right side abdominal pain is Appendicitis. The Appendix is located near the cecum and up to this day, there is no clear explanation on what is the function of the appendix to our body. Many concluded that it helps in our immunity and some predicted that it can help in maintaining the normal flora in the gut. Once there is a blockage in the appendix due to different reasons, appendicitis develops. The infection in the appendix causes pain on the right side of the abdomen.
- Gallstones – When the gallbladder is blocked by gallstones, it causes pain on the right side of the abdomen because the bile cannot go out causing the gallbladder to swell.
- Cholecystitis – It is an infection of the gallbladder, and if there is an infection, there is also swelling which causes the painful feeling on the right side of the abdomen.
- Ectopic pregnancy – This happens when the egg cell implanted on the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. There is little room to accommodate the growing fetus inside the fallopian tube thus as the fetus keeps on growing, it will squeeze the inner lining of the fallopian tube causing pain on the abdominal area.
- Ovarian cyst – As the cyst continue to grow inside the ovary, it will crush the inner lining of the ovary and this will cause pain on the abdomen.
- Kidney Stone – When a stone is present in the kidneys, it will naturally roll down to the ureter because of how the fluids in the kidneys flow. When the stone passes down the ureter, its size can cause irritation to the lining of the ureter thus causing pain.
Symptoms and Signs Associated With Right Side Abdominal Pain
Pain itself is a symptom and it occurs when there is a problem in our body. Aside from pain, there are other signs and symptoms that a patient feels when he is experiencing right side abdomen pain such as;
- Fever – If an organ or a structure in a body is infected or inflamed, naturally our body tries to fix the situation by activating the immune system. As part of the immune response, fever occurs to help the body win against infectious agents by making our body unfavorable for them to live.
- Diarrhea or bleeding presence in stool – Located on the right side of the abdomen is some parts of the large intestine, diarrhea and bleeding are signs that there is a problem inside the large intestine such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and many more.
- Menstrual cycle changes – ovaries secrete hormones estrogen and progesterone, if there is a cyst inside the ovaries, it will cause imbalance to the function of the ovaries thus producing menstrual cycle changes.
- Nausea and vomiting – There are many reasons why nausea and vomiting occurs such as problems in the liver, obstruction in the bowel, kidney diseases and many more.
Diagnosis and Tests To Confirm the Cause of Right Side Abdominal Pain
To determine the cause of the pain and to properly treat it, diagnostic tests are performed.
- Complete blood count (CBC) – It is performed to determine if there is abnormality presence in the blood. If the white blood count is elevated, responsible for immune response, then there is an infection that is happening in your body such as appendicitis.
- Liver enzymes – A test for liver enzymes will tell a doctor the condition of your liver. Elevated liver enzymes may indicate that there is a problem in the liver such as gallstones.
- Urinalysis – This test is performed to determine a patient’s urine for any presence of blood, sugar, bacteria and many more. Presence of blood in the urine is suggestive of kidney stones.
- Stool examination – The stool of a patient is examined for presence of anything that is not normal such as bacteria, blood and a lot more. Presence of blood and white blood cells in the stool can be associated with infection or inflammation in the intestines.
- KUB (Kidney, Ureter, and Bladder) X-Ray – This is done to look at the image of the organs and structures inside the body. An abnormal KUB result may present enlarged intestines due to obstruction or kidney stones present in the ureter.
- Abdominal Ultrasound – Useful in providing an image of the structures and organs in the abdomen. This can help in diagnosing appendicitis, gallstones, ovarian cyst, and many more.
- Computerized tomography (CT) – This provided a clearer and more accurate image of the structures in the abdomen compared to an ordinary ultrasound. Aside from determining diseases in the organs and structures of the body, it can also show you images of the arteries which can help doctors to diagnose the flow of blood to the organs.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – It performs the same function as CT scan but the images produce by MRI scans are more accurate and clearer.
- Endoscopy – To get a better picture of the condition of the intestine, an endoscope is used to look inside your body.
- Surgery – If the following diagnostic procedures failed to give your doctor an answer to your complaints, a laparoscopy is used to personally check the condition of your body and determine the problem.
If the proper diagnosis of your condition is already determined by your doctor, then the treatment for your condition is the next step. Because of the many possibilities that may cause right side abdominal pain, proper diagnosis is a must then the treatment follows depending on your problem.
To treat the pain momentarily, pain reliever is given to ease the feeling such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) or Acetaminophens.
This is the last or the only option in treating problems that occurs in the organs and structures in the right side of the abdomen. Here are some of the common procedures done in treating the different structures and organs on the abdomen;
- Appendectomy – This is performed to remove the ruptured or inflamed appendix.
- Cholecystectomy – This is done to surgically remove the gallbladder especially if there is presence of gallstones.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy – Surgical removal of the kidney stones in the ureter.
- Ovarian cystectomy – Removing the cysts in the ovaries.
To stop or minimize infection, antibiotics is used to help fight infectious agents.