Diagnose my side pain
November 19, 2021 11:23 AM   Subscribe

YANMD. For about a year, I've been dealing with pain on my right side. It's an achy-type of pain that I feel in the middle of my side, mid-way between my hip and shoulder, right around and below where my bra strap rests. The pain wraps around a little on each side. Pressing on the flesh between the ribs causes more pain. It is not debilitating pain, just annoying.

I have been to a doctor about this and had an xray, ultrasound, and MRI. I have also been to a physiotherapist which made the pain worse.

The pain has disappeared for weeks at a time, but always comes back. Exercises like planks and downward/upward dog make it worse. When I'm experiencing pain, it is better in the morning and worse at night. Slouching makes it worse.

This has been going on for a long time and I'm so frustrated by it. Any idea what is going on here and how I can fix it?
posted by toby_ann to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
 
The gallbladder holds and releases bile (a kind of detergent) to help digest fats in food after eating. Stones block the release of bile and can cause pain. Does it hurt after eating, and particularly after eating fatty foods?

Gallbladder stones can cause the pain you describe and be missed by external ultrasound. An ERCP or endoscopic ultrasound may have a better chance of catching them, if present.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:45 AM on November 19 [5 favorites]


My bet is on gallbladder. Speak with a medical professional about an ultrasound but specifically a HIDA scan which tests the function of the gallbladder specifically and CHECK THE RESULTS YOURSELF for every test they do. They told me mine were “normal”. I did my own research and looked into “functional gallbladder disorder” as my function was only 51%. I got the thing ripped out and those severe and excruciating symptoms went away. Speak with a doctor and surgeon that believes you and can advise you. If you are a woman or femme consider bringing a man or masculine person to appointments with you, especially if you cannot shop around for a doctor.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:50 AM on November 19 [6 favorites]


I had a couple years of side pain in the bra strap area on my left side. It was intermittent and sharp and did not feel like a muscle ache. I went to a new massage therapist and learned it was one of the muscles there (serratus anterior, I think, but I can't recall). She worked on it twice and it has now completely resolved. She recommended using a lacrosse or tennis ball on the area at home (with your side body facing the wall and your arm over head). This would be an easy experiment at home to see if that gives you any relief.
posted by mcgsa at 11:51 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah I was going to suggest something muscular as mcgsa said. I’ve had tightness through that area and my PT suggested foam rolling and mobility exercises. The other thought I had was costochondritis.
posted by bluloo at 2:30 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


Also meant to say, I’ve had gallbladder pain (was eventually removed) and the achey, movement associated pain you describe doesn’t line up with my experience.
posted by bluloo at 2:31 PM on November 19


I've also had a muscular pain in that area that mgsa describes. Exactly how you describe it too, especially getting worse when I slouch or bend forward. For me, it gets a little worse when I breathe in, almost like something is catching across a rib.
posted by Zumbador at 7:46 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I had rib pain during my pregnancy that would not go away afterward. My sports medicine doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant and after I took that twice, the pain is gone. Sometimes your muscles lock into certain patterns and get stuck. Massage can also help.
posted by mai at 8:04 PM on November 19


A good physical therapist might be able to help identify a muscle that is troublesome, and exercises to help. A good massage therapist may provide relief.
posted by theora55 at 5:59 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Here is a way to see if it is youf galbladder. If it is, get it out. Go on a no added fat to cat free diet for a few days. See if your pain subsides. After that on a Saturday, have half a sliced avocado with mayo, and french fries for lunch, with salad and oil and vinegar dressing. Wait 4-5 hours and time it, to see if that pain or ache returns with a vengeance. It takes 4-5 hours for the liver to twll the gallbladder to release bile to divest fats present. Supposedly if you have gallstones the stones pose a threat to you if the common bile duct gets blocked by a stone. Anyway get a different kind of bra, some of them suspend or constrict in such a way as to cause muscle discomfort. If you have different kinds of bras, figure out if it is just one in particular that causes it, then toss it.
posted by Oyéah at 8:37 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


It takes 4-5 hours for the liver to twll the gallbladder to release bile to divest fats present.

I have a tetchy gall bladder that will be coming out real soon now and my surgeon told me that usually "pain 30 min after eating" is the thing to watch out for. I agree that while you're describing pain in the right area, but at least with my gallbladder related stuff exercise did notmake it worse.
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Nthing might be gallbladder (which can refer pain to all sorts of other locations -- mine was in my upper back!) and that one easy preliminary check is to eat no fat for a few days and see if it goes away. If it does, go back to the doctor and tell them you suspect gallstones and why.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:21 PM on November 20


Gallstones are a definite sharp pain from what im told. I have a suspicion its a hiatal hernia. Its when your diaphragm has lost some of its rigidity and the top of your stomach sits inside the cavity where your esophagus and windpipe are so it feels a little extra effort to breathe or stand from a sitting position.. It might feel like a pulling sensation from your breast bone to your back almost as if someone was pressing their full weight on your sternum. It feels worse after you eat and it may last a few days at a time. You won't get nauseous but if you did vomit its mostly stomach acid. I have the same problem and it is extremely aggravating pain. The digestive process is extremely slow in these so you can't digest food fast enough to help it push along. The relief only comes when there is more gas in the bottom of the stomach than the top
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 11:18 AM on November 22


Part 2 of my answer is to get a diagnosis for hiatal hernia you need a endoscopy and colomoscopy. The colomoscopy is not necessary but they are usually done at the same time.
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 11:23 AM on November 22


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