Rib Pain on the Left Side: Causes and Symptoms

by | Nov 12, 2011 | Mid Back Pains | 0 comments

Rib Pain on the Left Side: Causes and Symptoms

rib pain left side

Rib Pain Left Side

Causes and Symptoms

Rib pain on the left side can be caused by a number of different issues, some more severe than others. Depending on how much pain you are currently in you may need to seek medical attention. Hopefully you aren’t at that point – but if you are please do go and see your doctor.

Also, as a good rule of thumb, if the pain isn’t going away after a few days you should also go and have a talk with your doctor – better safe than sorry.

I’m providing this information from the research that I have done when I’ve had my own personal rib pain in the past. Pain in and around the ribs is some of the most annoying and severe pain that I’ve felt, and often it’s hard to know exactly what is causing it.

To start, when you look at the underlying organs on the left side of your body you have both the stomach and the spleen, so your pain may be related to either of those. Just to be clear here when we are talking about the ‘Left Side’ that means the same side of your body as your left hand.


Cracked Ribs

I’ve personally went through cracked ribs after an unfortunate bout of basketball where my brother ended up smashing his hip into my ribs, and then another time while trying to bridge while sparring in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

In both instances the ribs were very tender, and any large exhalations, such as laughing, would cause sharp pain. Movement was also an issue, and getting into and out of bed was quite difficult as it required me to keep my torso as straight as possible to minimize the pain that I was feeling.

The pain was so much that I thought that I had maybe broken a rib, and went to the doctor to have an X-Ray. The result of the X-Ray was that I had cracked ribs, which was a relief to know what the cause of the pain was, but unfortunately there is nothing that can be done for cracked ribs, and they heal themselves over time.

After going through the pain of cracked ribs for a second time I decided that contact sports aren’t for me, and now stick to running as my main form of physical activity. 

Muscle Pain

It may be possible that you have bruised the muscles around your ribs and this is what is causing your rib pain on the left side. For this you may want to try using muscle relaxants or heating creams to help reduce the inflammation. If you are suffering from muscle pain the good news is that the pain should go away in a few days, assuming that you are not reinjuring the same area.

Gas Pain

The buildup of gas in the stomach and small intestine may cause rib pain on the left side. There are many causes of gas build up, so it is often hard to pinpoint exactly what the cause of the pain is. I’ve suffered from intense gas pain in the past, and have since remedied it by changing my diet.

If you are feeling pain that you think may be gas related, and you are in a location where you can freely pass you gas – try to do so and see if it will relieve any of the pain that you are feeling. Also, try to remember what you most recently ate, as an ingredient in that food may be the source of your discomfort.

For me personally I found that while I eliminated wheat flour from my diet I feel a lot better. Unfortunately with the North American diet it can be tough to steer clear of wheat flour if you are eating out. Try to keep a mental note of what foods you think are causing the issues and then remember to bring this up with your doctor at your next visit, as repeated incidents of gas pain may be signs of some larger issues.

There are some over the counter remedies like Gas-X that you may want to try when you know you will be eating food that can cause issues for you.


Stomach Ulcers are caused by bacteria in the stomach and by smoking and can be another cause of your rip pain on the left side. Ulcers are most likely to flare up a few hours after eating, in the early morning or during the night. You may be able to reduce the pain you are feeling by eating something or by taking antacid medication. If you think that you have an ulcer you should consult your doctor.

Rib Pain on the Left Side – What to Do?

If your rib pain on the left side problem is internal and you suspect related to gas, ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome etc. then try to regulate your diet, drink more water and get regular exercise. While this advice may seem as basic as it gets I’ve found that changing my diet has been one of the biggest things to give me consistent relief. Eating out is still a minefield, as I’m not sure exactly what food or ingredient is causing my pain, but at least 90% of the time I am feeling great.

Other Causes of Rib Pain

In some instances you may be suffering from prolonged muscle strain caused by a poor mattress and how you sleep. Depending on your sleeping position you may be putting undue pressure on the ribs that is causing the pain. Try to see if applying heat to the sore area will relieve the pain. If so, then that is a good sign that your pain is muscle related.

Try to sleep in a different position and see if that has any effect on how you are feeling. Also try flipping your mattress if it hasn’t been adjusted in a while and see if that has any positive results.