Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Abdominal pain under rib cage left side...Feels like A Charlie Horse

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 79 Replies
  • Posted By: BarbaraBarbara
  • November 30, 2007
  • 02:28 PM

Hello, New to this forum and glad to meet you all.

I am a 38 year old Smoking Housewife with no medical insurance, about 180 pounds....have gained about 30 pounds since starting work on the computer 3 years ago, and dont get alot of physical exercise, so I am in an upright posistion alot of days and of course bending forward with not so great posture.

Other than generalized getting older and general aches and pains Im healthy.

I have had SEVERE bouts of pain on my left side, just beneath my rib cage in the stomach area, for about 7 years.

The pain isn't always present, it comes and goes but I never have it when im standing or laying down (only when Im sitting) , It can be brought on sometimes by coughing or even twisting/bending my body to the left ,right or foreward, doing sit ups, getting out of bed or for no apparent reason at all, but not every time, and I cant reproduce the pain for the doctor.

Severity of the pain...UNBELIEVABLE !!! On a scale of 1-10 it is always a 8-9 during the episode.
It almost feels like a charlie horse in my stomach, or severe labor pains but ALWAYS in the same spot ..I can put my finger on it every time..It's the same exact spot.
No chance that Im pregnant Ive had a tubal 15 years ago, and as mentioned this has been ongoing for about 7 years.
The muscles in my stomach area completely contract and I cant hardley breath in or out untill it passes.
It lasts about 30 seconds and then stops leaving a sore,bruised feeling for an hour or so in that area.

I can apply pressure with my hand to the spot and be very still or lay down as I feel the muscles begin to contract and that will usually delay or stop the full blown spasm for awhile or a day.
There's no bruising, I cant feel any lumps, it used to only happen about once a month ( sometimes It wouldnt happen for 3-6 months) but recently it has been more frequent happening 1-2 times per week.

It doesnt cause fever, and im not dibilitated except when im having the pain.
I am constipated and gassey quite often ( I think I should be going more than I do),I get indigestion often but hardley ever have diarhea.
These dont feel like gas pains, they are extremely more severe than that.
I dont loose my appetite,I dont take laxitives because I hate the stomach ache produced by them.

The only meds I take are Advil or aleve for pain ,claritin for allergies and Nyquil when I have a cold.

I also occasionally get a burning achey feeling in my back, towards the top between my shoulder blades, it's a radiating ache no more severe on one side than the other, but occasionally radiates up the right side of my neck ... usually brought on during colder weather or times when im stressed or smoking more than usuall , I thought it comes from my lungs and was a URI but my general physician always says my lungs sound fine, so maybe it is coming from muscles ?
I might add, taking Nyquil seems to help the pain between my shoulder blades.

I have brought these pains to the attention of my general physician for years and she looks at me as though she's puzzled so I stopped even bringing it up to her because she makes me feel stupid, I am not a hypochondriac .

7 Years ago she put me on anti-depressants after my 5 - 6 th complaint about these pains , I assumed she was thinking that I was too stressed and freaking myself out , I stopped taking them after the first 6 months or year because the pains didnt stop and I didnt feel depressed even in the begining .
I dont take pain pills so I turned those down when they were offered and told her I dont want a band-aid , I want to know whats wrong.

She says it could be alot of things (possibly more than one thing) and I should have an MRI done but I cant afford that.


Any ideas?

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79 Replies:

  • hi i'm a 33 y.o male 6'1 200lbs that's having a similar sensation.. dull pain that is like a balloon is under the left ribcage that *rubs*. seems to move when not moving and also when moving.. Accompanying this is gas, evacuation of loose stools, a sensation of ill feeling in the gut, shortness of breath, pulsing sensations of weakness coming from my chest.. scared me enough to get a cardio ultrasound which came back fine. this has popped up over and over over the past 3 or so months since working on my car, reaching to turn bolts from under it and whatnot. Also took clindamycin in january, which can cause c diff colitis, but i guess i dont' have that, because i am pretty much regular, apart form these 'spells' when i have to go to the bathroom maybe 1.5 to 2x a day instead of 1x a day. I've had 33 years of living with all the normal issues that can affect the GI track and all, but this is really a new and annoying syndrome. I hope it's something benign, but i have no idea exactly what it is.. spleen? Pancreas? colon ulcer? cartilage? all in my head?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I haven't posted before but decided after reading everyones posting to throw my two cents in. :)I am a 31 female. I was diagnosed with crohn's disease in 3rd grade but that was after doctor "hopping" from grade 1 forward. Since then I have had 2 resection surgeries. One last year. Basically I started having the pain in the left side under the ribcage that everyone else has been referring to. The difference I would say is that with my pain it is not a come and go thing but a constant thorn in my side. It never goes lower than a 3 on the pain scale and travels up to 9 at least once a day about 6 days a week at the minimum. When this new pain in my left side started I saw my gastro dr. thinking it was the crohns acting up. They did a full scan of my abdomen and told me that I had kidney stones but not to worry they were not in a position to cause pain but that my gallbladder was in bad shape and had to be removed and that was what the pain was from. So surgery took place, recovery time lapsed, pain did not go away or lessen in the least. So new tests were done (MRI, endoscopy, colonoscopy) they found a stricture where new scar tissue had formed over an old surgery scar effectively creating a plug and told me this was the pain site. Again, surgery ensued, recovery time lapsed, pain still present and increasing. Now they were stumped. They told me basically its not my crohns and all tests were now comming up clear of abnormalities and that they could not find anything. My current Dr. told me that his best guess was that the pain was from old scar tissue from the surgeries I have had and that if that is indeed the case there was nothing he could do and that I will have to "Live" with this pain. the only position I can sleep on is my right side, left side is impossible and on my back still causes problems. After the last 2 surgeries I now have to drink this nasty powder every day for a chance at semi normal bowel control, I had to quit my job, and I can barely leave my house. Recently I met a women that mentioned a similar occurance she had many years ago and that her doctor offered her a surgery that removed the scar tissue and wove in an "adhesion" barrier that prevented new scar tissue from reforming and said she has been pain free since. I have been printing out this new material to bombard my dr with at the next visit. If you have ever had surgeries or such try bringing up pain from scar tissue with your dr. or "adhesion disorder". A site I am learning alot from is http://www.adhesions.org/.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 10, 2011
    • 11:31 PM
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  • Your Rosemary's Baby is a case of Gaul Stone/s blocking the passing of enzimes that are excreated to break down fat. See if the timing of these symptoms correlate with a night of feasting on fatty foods like roast pig, ham hocks, ox tail or other fatty type food.I suffered for years because I was too dumb to go see a doctor until one day I was carted off tho the hospital where they removed my Gaul Bladder. I have never had the pain again, today they can extract it through two holes and the recovery was one week. If this is your problem, get it fixed and start living pain free again. I had my gaul bladder removed several years ago and I am fealing the same pain. its like a soft ball trying to go right through the skin along with charlie horse pain..... i went to er over this 2 yyears ago. they said there was nothing wrong with me. it was in my mind....
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 17, 2011
    • 00:18 AM
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  • I have experienced this for years. It started when I was about 30 and would only happen when I am sitting, leaning, twisting but all when sitting or leaning hard. It always happens on my RIGHT side and only subsides when I drive my thumb into it under my ribs....I can actually feel the muscle cramp. At first when it all started years ago ( I am 43 now) the cramp was about the size of a quarter and would last only a few minutes but it was a few minutes of intense charley horse action! I would drive my thumb in until it left and sometimes....many times actually, it would come back instantly just like a charley horse would. I would always hav a bruise on the skin afterward from the pressure of my thumb. When I was stressed really bad around age 39 the charley horses were nonstop and went to the ER several times only to be sent back home. The last time I went I demanded some answers so they admitted me. I am a good ol' country girl from Maine and I can take a lot of pain! When they asked the pain # I told them 9+. My long time doctor then knew something was wrong because he knows I'm not a sissy. He ordered an array of tests and EVERYTHING came back normal...not even my gallbladder was acting up - NOTHING! They put me on morphine because it was so constant....well, after talking with my dad on the phone he told me that my grandfather had the same thing and so does my aunt on my fathers side....guess what? No answers! Doctors just assume it is my diaphram spasming. No known cause OTHER THAN if I eat regular interval meals It happens much less! The other day I had an "attack" and the charley horse was long and bumpy (about 4 inches long and about an inch or so wide) and as I drove my thumb into it I could feel it spasming....literally! It was so weird to feel with the thumb and as much as it hurt I was amazed and fascinated! The best thing I have found is to stand up, twist and arc your back while driving your thumb into it until it goes and wait until next time. It actually feels like a rock in there with my thumb! Whatever it is, might be a hereditary thing? I have an identical twin sister and she does not have the problem.Dear Lorajean, I have it, too. I've read many posts here and doctors seem to be all over the map with diagnosis. It's a cramp in the diaphram muscle. (I'm a singer who uses his diaphram a lot.) What a pain it is, and somewhat embarrassing. I've actually run up against a wall to get it to "pop" back in. Happens a lot in airplanes because of the change in air pressure, too. It's very embarrassing to be ordering a soda from the flight attendant while banging on your ribcage. So it's sort of like a hernia, too. The doctor told me that there's nothing to do---but if it doesn't stop (or go back in) go to the hospital then. They would probably administer a muscle relaxer. Good luck!
    geosande 1 Replies
    • August 17, 2011
    • 06:18 PM
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  • Unfortunately, this thread has somewhat derailed...the original poster CLEARLY stated that what they are experiencing are akin to severe charlie horses in their upper abdomen/lower ribcage area...since then, half of the posts people have contributed Obviously relate to something else entirely (from pancreatitis, to spastic colons, to gas bubbles, to IBS, to...whatever).This isn't simply an undiagnosed upper abdominal pain thread...the hallmark symptom that the original poster mentions in a "CHARLIE HORSE" in this area, which inversely causes the familiar associated pain, and if you've ever experienced a charlie horse it's unlikely that anyone would confuse this pain with anything else...So, simply because you're experiencing generic pain in this area shouldn't lead you to contribute to this post UNLESS it is pain stemming from the type of muscular cramp often referred to as "charlie horses", okay?....all the unrelated posts are muddying up the waters and confusing things unnecessarily, in fact, posting here is doing themselves a disservice as what they are experiencing is clearly unrelated to the types of muscle cramps the original poster, and others, have described.I too suffer from these 'cramps'...the sensation is EXACTLY like the charlie horses one gets in your calves, etc, only they are more intense and difficult to relieve...your typical calf charlie horse is often relieved by standing on the affected leg, so, for obvious reasons I encounter a bit of a challenge easing them.My 'cramps' can occur on either side; every now and then I'll get them on both sides which is tons of fun.Numerous things can bring mine on, such as (listed in order of frequency): laughing; wiping After a BM (sorry for being gross); bending in unusual ways; bending in normal ways; having a BM (sorry again) and, sometimes, they will even happen spontaneously, but the VAST majority of time they are brought on by some sort of muscular activity/movement/strain.One thing I have noticed about them is that they tend to happen in clusters, i.e. there are days that they seem to happen often; then I can go long periods w/o having any...which is One of the reasons I tend to believe that they are related to an electrolyte/mineral deficiency. The Other reason I believe this is that I never experienced them until I began taking a diuretic, which notoriously deplete potassium and magnesium levels.While they are occurring some things that can help relieve the intensity are: clasping my hands together, raising my arms over my head and bending backward; bearing down while bending back slightly; occasionally coughing helps (likely due to the bearing down aspect).While they certainly are uncomfortable I don't know that I'd call them the very WORST pain I've experienced but they certainly are impossible to ignore, cause me to grunt, groan and twist, and sometimes seem to sorta take your breath away until they ease up...I should probably note that I've experienced more than my fair share of pain so far in my life - migraines, occipital neuralgia, a broken jaw and lung surgery w chest tubes, so maybe that puts them somewhat in perspective...still, I'd be real, Real happy to never have to experience another.I've had a lot of them today, which led me to this thread and so I've begun supplementing myself w foods high in potassium and magnesium and I will report back tomorrow whether or not this seems to provide any relief.
    alassnsane 2 Replies
    • September 9, 2011
    • 10:05 PM
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  • I've had a lot of them today, which led me to this thread and so I've begun supplementing myself w foods high in potassium and magnesium and I will report back tomorrow whether or not this seems to provide any relief.It Did help, pretty dramatically too, I ate a whole bunch of raisins...I also skipped my diuretic the next day (probably shouldn't have but was curious) and haven't suffered any since of that day's magnitude or frequency, so maybe my minerals/electrolytes were way out of whack?Only time will tell if this simple fix is repeatable...I'll be sure to report back if it proves to be.
    alassnsane 2 Replies
    • September 15, 2011
    • 11:13 PM
    • 0
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  • Hi everyone... i feel your pain... literally. On Oct. 3rd 2011, i was yanked by a dog that was boarding at my work in the kennel that i was walking on a leash out to the play yard. Ever since then i've been having that tell tale "Charley Horse" (but it's worse then any foot charley horse I've ever felt.... about 10 times worse!!!) feeling in my right rib cage that radiates all the way around my ribs. When the attack happens, it takes my breath away just on the right side, I've caught myself holding my breath now when it happens and I've noticed that when I have the attack if I push on the right side with my right hand the pain is cut in half. I got xrays of my chest and lateral rib view, didn't get my results on friday as promised, so i'm hoping i'll get them tomorrow. I've seen 2 occupational health doctors for the work related injury and they've both diagnosed me with 2 different things. The first diagnoses which sounds about right is an "Intercostal Muscle Strain", it causes the charley horse spasms, pain, etc. Have you ever tried to see if the pain is the actual rib bone or if it feels like it's the muscle in between the ribs. I swear the edge of my ribs by my middle are really sore since getting hurt, i felt a lump in the middle of my ribs between my center in the front and my spine and right next to my spine I've felt a popping sensation whenever I try to stretch. In the first couple days I kept feeling like I needed to stretch really hard and pop something out because the spasms were 1 right after the other for hours and hours until I finally fell asleep. I was told the first 24-48 hrs to use ice and after 48 hrs to use heat (i've been using a heating pad... be careful because the first night i burned my whole side and had red rib marks for 24 hrs til it faded). The 2nd diagnosis I got was a Latissimus Dorsi Strain, which I know is wrong because it doesn't mention anything about cramping, spasming or Charley Horses. After reading a lot of information online and in forums I've also seen people write about their doctors or chiropractors saying it was a lower esophageal sphincter spasm, pleurisy, and MS hug. The less problematic remedies are upping your magnesium and potassium and making sure you drink enough water or electrolytic juices/water so you're not dehydrated.Here are the links in order: Intercostal Muscle Strain, Lower Esophageal Sphincter Spasm, Pleurisy and MS Hug.http://www.body-motion.co.uk/injuries/intercostal-muscle-strain-treatment.htmhttp://emedicine.medscape.com/article/174975-overviewhttp://www.emedicinehealth.com/pleurisy/page3_em.htmhttp://ms.about.com/od/signssymptoms/a/ms_hug_pain.htmI hope you all find the relief you need and are looking for. Trust me I know how aggravating this problem is. I've only had it for 5 days and i'm already tired of it! Best of luck and warm wishes to you all!
    Surfer625 1 Replies
    • October 9, 2011
    • 08:53 PM
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  • Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, I am a 55 y.o. female who has been suffering with these symptoms for over 35 years. I have had every test known to man kind, and EVERY time all tests come out normal. Go, figure. I just don't understand how a person can be in such horrendous pain and nothing can be found. When this pain gets bad, I, literally have to just lay down in the fetal position and rock myself until I fall asleep. Pain pills do not work as they effect the liver, which can cause more pain on the left side. I have gallbladder pain at least 6 times a year, yet, my gall bladder looks just fine. Colonoscopy's galore...all normal...diagnosis's over the years: IBS, colitis, gall bladder disease, GERD, pulled muscle, all in my head see a psychiatrist, coscocondritis(sp), bruised ribs, something I ate,,,,I've just learned to live with it..some days worse than others. Good luck to you all, and if ANYONE finds out any other information, please post.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • November 17, 2011
    • 00:03 AM
    • 0
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  • Hi guy first of all i got this pain under my lelf rib hurt like **** about 8 years i went to doctor and been check everything now i dont trust them anymore all they wanted is our money and they just know about general nothing better then that i been research my self without trust those stupic anymore and finally i know what my system killing me 8years and it make me hella skinny and lost pounds so fast ok here is it i dont try to convince anyone not to trust your doctor im just saying my own situation go ask your doctoc let u check up for a parasite it is the worst killer live and speard in our body and there are many types of parasite to if anyone here can afford for doctoc you guy try raw garlic read more about raw garlic hope my message will help anyone got same situation as i do god bless you
    duongphan27 1 Replies
    • November 26, 2012
    • 11:28 PM
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  • I'm 17 years old and I've been having this sharp pain on the lower right side of my left rib cage for about 4 years now. It's flares up randomly and it literally feels like someone just punched my straight in that spot. I try to take advil or any type of pain reliever and it doesn't go away for a couple days. Do you think this is serious enough to go see a doctor?
    AlexisLee 1 Replies
    • January 29, 2013
    • 09:48 PM
    • 0
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  • lorajean~ That was the best description ever!(Wicked Good!) I too have this and how you explained how you got it to go away was perfect! Stand up , arch your back & twist while pushing it back....Still dont know what it is but if you ever get an answer give me a shout....P.S. Spent 8 years up on the "Airline Road" I'm no whimp either :)
    SnowLeopard 1 Replies Flag this Response
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  • Can relate.. Mainly, when I bend over.. I have this muscle tension spasm thing happening.. I can actually see and feel it go over my ribs.. Painful!! I have to learn backwards and stretch and sometimes push it back down.. It now seems to be causing my back muscles to join in.. So far the potassium and magnesium make sense to try.. And a chiropractor.. I do have a old back and neck injury..
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • February 6, 2014
    • 06:41 AM
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  • I get the same pains and the closest thing I've come to is gall bladder.
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • October 16, 2014
    • 11:49 PM
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  • I get them to and wonder if it's a hernia. My doc is puzzled and has made no suggestions
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • December 3, 2014
    • 04:57 AM
    • 0
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  • I'm 59 and I hear all of you. I have had IBS for years, and trust me, this not IBS. Mine started out that I felt pressure and hard to breathe. Rushed to the ER. Nothing. Then under my ribs would cramp up like a Charley horse on the right side when I would bend over and tie my shoes. Over 5 years it has gone from that to sitting in a recliner. Sitting straight hurts. Tugging or pulling up the cover gets it started. The cramping has extended clear across my diaphragm area. I massage it and feels bruised. Sometimes the muscle will pop or just slowly ease off. I've felt specific knots, hard muscle, swollen areas, but all that helps is massagig especially while stretched out omy back. I've had MRIs, ultrasounds. Nobody can find out what it is. I do have fibromyalgia and spinal injuries from years back so they are thinking it may be related. Tomorrow I am having an emg of both arms , an MRI of my neck and a whole spinal series. Keep the faith, I totally understand.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I'm 59 and I hear all of you. I have had IBS for years, and trust me, this not IBS. Mine started out that I felt pressure and hard to breathe. Rushed to the ER. Nothing. Then under my ribs would cramp up like a Charley horse on the right side when I would bend over and tie my shoes. Over 5 years it has gone from that to sitting in a recliner. Sitting straight hurts. Tugging or pulling up the cover gets it started. The cramping has extended clear across my diaphragm area. I massage it and feels bruised. Sometimes the muscle will pop or just slowly ease off. I've felt specific knots, hard muscle, swollen areas, but all that helps is massagig especially while stretched out omy back. I've had MRIs, ultrasounds. Nobody can find out what it is. I do have fibromyalgia and spinal injuries from years back so they are thinking it may be related. Tomorrow I am having an emg of both arms , an MRI of my neck and a whole spinal series. Keep the faith, I totally understand.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • lack of magnesium causes cramping & charlie horses...I take a supplement, but milk of magnesia can be very helpful as well.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • So thankful for each of your comments! I have pain under left ribcage. Laying in bed, if I roll over to get something that fell on the floor, that pain grabs me. It doesn't last for long but is intense. I have a bit of nausea after and it is tender. A year and a half ago, I had to take 3 antibiotics in a row. All had been fine up to that point. Started having: loose stools, nausea all the time. Pain in all of stomach when I would roll over in bed. My doctor ordered an endoscopy. It did show the lining of my stomach was highly irritated. Also, in the image, we could see bile floating across the stomach so to speak. Symptoms: nausea all and when I woke. I take Prilosec each morning, good for nausea and overall pain in stomach. Doctor said eat small portions, not three big meals a day, exercise, lose some weight. Better but pain under rib began after this. I will be walking again each day. Will cut portions down again as well. I do take Probiotics daily now. Best to each!
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • omg this has been happening to me ALL the time lately and i dont know why!? also been having a hiatal hernia kind of pain that will push up into my sternum so im guessing the two are connected. Every time i bend over, right under the corner of my lft rib..i can feel whats *like* a charlie horse. almost like a twisting/spasming deal and i couldnt straighten up for like 10m each time.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
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