Name that pain!
August 16, 2007 1:52 AM   Subscribe

Stabbing painfilter- Help diagnose my stabbing abdominal pain!

Intermittently, for the last 6 months (that i can recall) from every 3 weeks to just over a month i have a stabbing pain under my lowest rib, at the front of my chest, approx. 2 inches left of my solar plexus (my p.o.v.) The pain normally lasts for a day or two, then vanishes. The pain itself is sore enough to make me conciously recognise it and think 'ouch!'. The pains come every minute or so, and do not worsen with swallowing, heightened pulse or breathing. It isn't sore to touch. I'm male, 26 and lead a reasonably active lifestyle. GP is booked already for some BP and cholesterol tests (family history) so will ask him too. Any ideas, MeFites?
posted by Joe Rocket to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Sounds very similar to what I had...turned out to be an ulcer from excess stomach acid. An endoscopy discovered it and I've been on proton pump inhibitors ever since.
posted by SoulOnIce at 2:09 AM on August 16, 2007

I'm not familiar with the exact location, but stabbing pain+abdominal area can often be appendicitis. You don't want that thing to long do you have to wait to see your GP? And can anybody here rule out appendicitis merely by the location?
posted by laconic titan at 2:30 AM on August 16, 2007

Appendicitis is generally lower right quadrant of the abdomen. A good way to test is to press at the area where there's pain. Press down, and then release; if upon the release it actually hurts more then it's a good chance it's appendicitis. Do the same about, I'd say, two inches below your right rib as well, just in case.
posted by Mali at 2:33 AM on August 16, 2007

I don't have any better advice, but it couldn't possibly be appendicitis if it's been going on for 6 months, could it?
posted by creasy boy at 4:09 AM on August 16, 2007

I'd expect the pain on my lower right it if it was appendicitis, plus theres no pain to the touch.
posted by Joe Rocket at 4:19 AM on August 16, 2007

I'd vote for gall stones, thats roughly the area where I experienced pain. You might try asking blood-relations if they've ever had these, as I was told it's somewhat hereditary. Most people tend to think of gall stones as an elderly affliction, but I was 29 when i had problems, and have since met many, many people who were in the same age range with stones.

Your attacks don't mirror mine, the second one sent me to the ER with pain severe enough that 4 shots of morphine really didnt have much effect, but from what I know the attacks can vary somewhat. Try to track what you eat, and see if it correlates to eating particularly fatty/greasy food. That tends to be a trigger for pain, as it sets the gall bladder to heavy work.

Please update, if possible, and best of luck.
posted by efalk at 4:27 AM on August 16, 2007

Also, as far as placement of pain goes, my pain didn't exactly correlate with where the bladder itself lay. Additionally, everyone is made up slightly differently, but that high up, i'd doubt the appendix.
posted by efalk at 4:29 AM on August 16, 2007

Because your pain lasts for days, not minutes, this could be wrong, but your description does sound a little like Precordial Catch Syndrome, which affects many young adults and is thought to be completely benign.
posted by dseaton at 4:51 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

I suffer from Acute Pancreatitis, which can be caused by all manner of things. In my case, it is Hyperlipidemia (High Blood Fats) caused by a family history of cholesterol problems.

It comes on sporadically, lasts a day or two and causes varying degrees of pain (imagine a scale from indigestion to gunshot to the stomach). The location is 4 inches or so below the bottom of the sternum and slightly to your left side. It will feel as though it is coming from the stomach.

One way of detecting this is, and apologies to those of a slightly delicate disposition, but if your stools in the day or so leading up to an episode are paler (almost tan) in colour and much looser than usual then it may be pancreatitis.

Ultrasounds, blood tests and MRI scans can all detect this but there is no cure other than lifestyle changes - no alcohol, no cigarettes, no drugs, low cholesterol. Sounds glum, but I am probably leaner and fitter than I have ever been as a result!

Good luck!
posted by mooders at 4:57 AM on August 16, 2007

I absolutely have PCS! Precisely as described. Down to the "if I force myself to breath I feel a pop and quick relief"! Wow! I'm comforted by this, somehow.

I sort of self-diagnosed that it wasn't going to kill me when I didn't, well, die. I used to get it reasonably often, now much less so.

Oh, and sorry for the derail, I've no idea what's going on with you and good luck.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:07 AM on August 16, 2007

I've had both appendicitis and gallstones. The pain is in the wrong area for appendicitis. It's exactly the right area for gallstones. I second efalk's suggestion-eat something fatty (say, a couple slices of pizza), and see if the problem flares up a few hours later.

If it is stones, it's not necessarily a big deal, unless they become impacted, which will result in a cholecystectomy.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2007

Thanks for ther answers so far- likely contenders are gallstones (of which i'm slightly sceptical as it's a lengthy attack and my digestive system seems fine) , Acute Pancreatitis (more likely with my family gift of higher cholesterol), or an Ulcer. Also, i had something fatty last night, and the pain remained the same. Please, keep the info coming!
posted by Joe Rocket at 6:46 AM on August 16, 2007

That sounds like the pain I had in recent years. I was diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and was put on Protonix (which helped immensely). The pain has mostly cleared up but it flares occasionally.
posted by cadge at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2007

My old man had a dissected aorta with pain in the same area, its what killed him and John Ritter.

It would vary, last for days, then disappear. Wasn't actually diagnosed correctly until the autopsy.

Although the pain usually comes with rapid changes in blood pressure, see a doctor.
posted by Max Power at 12:24 PM on August 16, 2007

Isn't Joe Rocket's pain too low to be likely to be Precordial Catch Syndrome? Thanks for mentioning it though, I have (or had, it hasn't happened for a long while) too! Like dirtdirt, since it never did anything bad to me I just assumed it wasn't important. I kind of thought it was a rib getting out of alignment; it's quite interesting that it doesn't actually have a known cause.
posted by lastobelus at 3:37 AM on August 17, 2007

I have a floating rib that pokes in an uncomfortable/painful way for a few days if I breathe hard for an extended period (like, if I have a multi-day allergy attack). Took me a while to figure out the cause.
posted by Four Flavors at 5:37 PM on August 21, 2007

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