Pain in Left Side

depression-824998_1920As the left side of abdomen contains a lot of structures, from the skin to the muscles, nerves, organs, and if any of these parts gets affected, the pain will be projected on the surface of the left abdomen. They can vary, from men to women, because of the organ diversities. Pain can be described with many attributes. Some of them are mild while others are strong, sharp ones. They can be constant or come unexpected and sudden. The pain can last from a couple of minutes, hours to a couple of months or years. Depending on a cause, it can be a direct location of the cause, or it can be projected pain which radiated to the part of the skin where the affected nerve does its innervation.

Structures On The Left Side Of The Abdomen

There are many structures that are located in this particular area of the abdomen. Such as nerves, arteries, veins, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, ribs, organs, etc. Here are all the possibilities that can be injured, infected, ruptured with the consequences of the pain in that part of the stomach:

  • Skin on that side of abdomen
  • Left side of the ribs ending
  • Nerves and myenteric plexus
  • Muscles that surround the stomach area
  • Blood vessels and abdominal part of aorta
  • Left side of the large intestine
  • Descendent colon
  • Sigmoid colon
  • Stomach
  • Spleen
  • Body and the tail of pancreas
  • Left kidney
  • Left urethra
  • Left adrenal gland
  • Left ovary in women
  • Left Fallopian tube in women.

Possible Causes Of Pain In The Left Side

Trapped Gas

Trapped gas in the stomach is a common cause of abdominal pain which can be strong. The gas dilatates the bowel and irritates the nerves in the wall causing pain. Pain can be like stomach cramps followed with a bloated stomach and loud noises of the air going from one side to the other.

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel obstruction can be a serious condition if an obstruction is total and neither the food or the liquid can’t pass the obstructed part of the intestine. It is an urgent condition and it can lead to rupture and infection. It can also cause malabsorption and bleeding if not treated. The symptoms can be diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and severe pain. Diarrhea can happen if the feces is blocking the passage, and to compensate, bowel secretes fluid to dilute the mass. Because the feces is solid, it can’t pass the obstruction, but it can result in  watery diarrhea, causing dehydration.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder which affects the large intestine. It typifies itself with characteristic symptoms like vomiting, cramps, abdominal pain, constipation, and often associated with depression, anxiety and stress. It stresses about twice as many women as to a man, and the responsible cause is yet identified.


Being constipated means your bowels are not functioning well and it is hard for the feces to go through the system. The stool can get harder, hence, higher the challenge to get it out. Bowel movement is different from person to person. Someone has an intestine discharge even three times a day while others have it once or twice a week. It is normal if it doesn’t last over three to four days.  It can be due to physical inactivity, poor diet, neurological conditions, overuse of laxatives, low fiber food, etc. A person can feel bloated, associated with abdominal pain and it can get uncomfortable.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a condition caused by bacteria and some toxins, which irritate the bowel, leading to vomiting and fever. A person can get poisoned by Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, Listeria, botulism, etc. It can get serious if there is a severe dehydration or diarrhea followed up with blood in the stool. It can start after 4-5 hours after a meal, often initiated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain. It is usually mild and subsides by itself, but sometimes it can get serious, so it is recommended to consult a doctor about the recovery process.

Crohn’s disease

This is an illness that can affect the whole digestive tract, from mouth to the rectum. It is an inflammatory disease which can engage bowel lining and cause inflammation leading to abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, malnutrition, weight loss. The disease is not considered life-threatening unless it’s not being treated. It usually starts with lifestyle change and some anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter medications.


Hernia occurs when an organ exits its place and creates a sac between the surrounding wall. There are several types of a hernia, but on the left side of the abdominal area, it could be hiatal, incisional or umbilical. It can happen if the muscle wall is too weak due to surgery, chronical coughing, some injury, and incision that didn’t heal properly. It can be spotted with a bulge in the affected area, which rises above the skin. You can feel discomfort, pressure, pain in the abdomen or burning and aching sensation in that place. If a hernia has gripped the part of the intestine, it can lead to ileus and cause acid reflux, vomiting or even toxic shock syndrome and chest pain.

Kidney Stones

Nephrolithiasis is a condition which is known as kidney stones. A stone can be made out of many substances, but it is usually made by crystals which form a solid mass. Calcium stones are the most common one. They are most typically formed from calcium oxalate. It can occur when eating high oxalate food like chocolate, peanut, chips, potato, etc. Other types of stones can be from uric acid, struvite, cystine. They can be asymptomatic, but if they are large enough, they can cause renal colics and even bloody urination if the stone movement damages the lining.


The kidney infection can reflect as abdominal pain in the left side if the left kidney is affected. The most common cause nowadays is bacteria called Escherichia Coli. It can spread from the urethra or from other parts of the body, by blood, which is not that often. It can start with back pain, pain in the left side, painful urination, nausea, diarrhea, fever, vomiting. It can be serious and a patient can be even hospitalized. It is treated with strong antibiotics therapy.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

This condition is caused by weakness of the abdominal aorta, where it expands to a sac formation. This dilatation can have serious consequences if the rate of the change is high and if it’s growing from the pressure of the blood. It can get complicated if it bursts leading to hemorrhage. The ruptured abdominal aorta is an emergency condition which should be cured with preventive surgery.

Treatment Of The Left Side Pain

Considering that there are many causes of the left side pain, the treatment can vary. The first important step is to diagnose it properly. It can be shown on the X-ray, ultrasound, detected during a physical examination, blood and urine tests. While some conditions require basic diet change and hydration, others need proper therapy and doctor’s assistance. Medications that can be used as a therapy go from laxatives for constipation to anti-inflammatory medications for irritable bowel syndrome. Antibiotics can be used for bacteria infection such as for pyelonephritis. Other conditions may only require some over-the-counter meds and check up at the doctor’s office.


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