Why do I have a sudden sharp pain under my right rib cage?

Your abdomen is made up of 4 quadrants. The part of your body under your right rib cage is called the upper right quadrant, and sudden sharp pain in this area can impact the nearby organs such as the kidney, liver, and gallbladder.
You shouldn’t worry too much about this pain, but it’s good to know what is causing it and when to visit your physician.

Causes of sudden sharp pain under your right rib cage

Gallbladder problems

An excruciating pain under the right rib cage can indicate the presence of gallstones. These are tiny balls in the gallbladder made of cholesterol or bile. It’s common for an adult to have gallstones, and usually, there are no symptoms.
But, a blocked stone in a duct in the gallbladder can cause sharp stabbing pain under the right rib cage. This condition is called gallstones disease, and the pain can last around 5-6 hours.
Leaving gallstones disease untreated can cause inflammation of the gallbladder. Moreover, it can result in fever, pale skin, and persistent pain.
Book an appointment with your doctor if your gallbladder area is hurting. Your doctor can diagnose the actual cause of pain and advise appropriate treatment.

Kidney problems

Another cause of pain under the right rib cage is a kidney stone. It is a hard formation of minerals in the urine found in the right kidney.
The formation of kidney stones is a common problem, and 1 out of every 11 individuals are affected by this issue.
Similar to gallstones, kidney stones don’t always cause painful sensations. But, if a kidney stone gets stuck in the urinary tract or results in an infection, it can cause sharp pain in the groin or lower back.
You may experience frequent urination and pain while doing so. In severe cases, blood can pass with urine.

Digestive problems

Indigestion can often cause a sudden sharp pain under your right rib cage as well as:

  • chest pain
  • slight stomach pain after eating
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • sickness

If you suspect that your discomfort is due to indigestion, you can simply change your diet and see what suits you better. However, it’s best to consult if indigestion keeps coming back and you’re experiencing:

  • sickness
  • anemia
  • blood in your stool or vomit
  • weight loss
  • are aged 55 or older

The above symptoms can indicate heartburn. But if indigestion keeps coming back, it can cause severe complications.


Shingles often cause pain and itchy rashes. The pain can be slight, sharp, or excruciating, and you may also have a headache or fever. Sometimes shingles can also cause sudden sharp pain under your right rib cage.
See your doctor if you have pain under the right rib and rash that you suspect to be shingles. This becomes more important if you are expecting or have a weaker immune system.

What to do

If you’re experiencing minor pain under your right rib cage, there’s nothing much to worry about, but if the pain is sharp or continuous, see your doctor. Schedule an appointment with the experts at Rheumatology Care of North Houston by calling 832.532.9779.

Disclaimer - Use At Your Own Risk :- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs are strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.
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