Sudden Sharp Pain Under Right Rib Cage – Is It An Emergency?

September 15, 2022

Most people are conscious that if you feel pain on the left side of your chest, it might have something to do with your heart. However, what should you do if you experience sudden, sharp pain under your rib cage on the right side of your body?

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the reasons you can experience pain under your right rib cage. Along with this, we’ll tell you about when you should seek medical treatment.

Sudden Sharp Pain Under Right Rib Cage

Just under the right side of your rib cage lie several important organs, such as the pancreas, gallbladder, right kidney, and parts of your liver, and small and large intestines. Experts divide the abdomen into four quadrants, and the upper quarter on the right-hand side is the RUQ or right upper quadrant.

Sudden, sharp pain in the RUQ is not usually a cause for concern – some individuals may suffer from gas accumulating in the large intestine where it bends under the rib cage, called a hepatic flexure. This is especially true if you suffer from bowel disorders or gastrointestinal discomfort regularly.

Another reason for pain under the right rib cage is if you’ve strained or injured your intercostal muscles. These muscles line the rib cage and facilitate its movement. So, for example, if you’ve twisted or turned your body or sat at your desk for too long before getting up, you could have pulled one of these muscles. Allowing the body to rest should alleviate symptoms.

When Should I Go To The Hospital?

Crucially, sudden sharp pain in the RUQ can be a sign that something is wrong. Most commonly, especially if the pain is excruciating, happens after you eat a large meal or lasts a long time, you may have developed gallstones. These are formed when there is too much cholesterol in your bile, a substance the gallbladder stores to aid digestion.

Liver problems can also lead to pain under the right rib cage. This can be due to hepatitis, the development of an abscess, or more rarely, a cancerous growth. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, tenderness in the area, fever, and dark urine.

The kidney is also susceptible to infection, cancer, or the development of kidney stones. Symptoms of kidney issues may involve fever, fatigue, and nausea. But if your urine is bloody or smells bad, it is a serious sign, as is painful or frequent urination.

If your symptoms coincide with any of the above, you should see a doctor as soon as you can.


If you’re facing sudden, sharp pain under the right rib cage, it’s wise to visit a qualified health professional. They can diagnose your issues and tell you whether they signal a condition that requires treatment.

At the Northwest Heart Center in Tomball, TX, we listen to all of our patients and keep you confident and comfortable through our high-quality care practices. We’re equipped to perform a comprehensive suite of tests to diagnose any potential heart problems. These include electrocardiography, heart rhythm monitoring, and blood tests. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at (281) 351-6250.

We look forward to hearing from you.