To describe any abdominal pain is easier if you can tell where the pain is located. To communicate more clearly medical practitioners divide the abdomen into 4 quadrants. There is the right half and the left half. And there is the upper and the lower quadrant. Some physicians even divide those 4 sections into subsections to make the location of pain even more specific in their descriptions. In short, it is easy to say a pain in the right side of your abdomen refers to anywhere on the right side of your body, either the upper or the lower right quadrant. A right side abdominal pain can be very serious.
It is important to pay attention to where it hurts, when it hurts, what kind of pain is it, and how long does it last. There are many organs located in the right side of your abdomen; so it is complicated to determine the precise source of your pain. The first thing people think of is, “Where is my appendix?”. That is because appendicitis cannot wait.
Right side abdominal pain is often constant and dull. But sometimes it is sharp and stabbing. When you have a constant, yet dull, pain it is often burning or tingling as well. You need to get your healthcare professional to determine the reason for this pain. They will interview you about the pain itself and give you a complete physical exam. They also need your health history. Tell them if you have been vomiting or if you lost your appetite.
Never ignore an abdominal pain in the right side. Actually, any abdominal pain is your body giving you information about something that is not properly functioning. It might be a sign of a serious health condition. Sometimes a serious illness will generate mild right side abdominal discomfort while other less serious ailments might produce moderate or sometimes severe abdominal pain on the right side.
Causes of Right Side Abdominal Pain
To determine what causes abdominal pain on the right side, it is necessary to look at the different organs and structures that are found on the right side of abdomen. Any illness, infection or irritation in these organs can create abdominal pain on right side. This is a list of various organs and structures that are located in the right half of the abdomen:
- Adrenal gland (right)
- Blood vessels
- Ureter (right)
- Fallopian tube (right)
- In females, right ovary
- Kidney (right)
- Right part of large intestines
A wide variety of health conditions or disorders or conditions may be common causes of right side abdominal pain even though they not found in that area. For example, some tumors could cause right side abdominal pain. Also, the lower part of the right lung may have an infection or some other illness and result in right side abdominal pain even though it is not counted as a part of the right abdomen.
Signs and Symptoms of Right Side Abdominal Pain
Because a right side abdominal pain could originate with any of the organs in that part of the abdomen and even other organs or health conditions from other parts of your body, it is very difficult to identify the source. Hence,the symptoms associated with any disorders of the various organs like fever, vomiting,changes in bowel habits, nausea, changes in appetite, intermittent pain or menstrual cycle changes are studied to assess the actual cause for the pain.
These symptoms help in diagnosing the actual cause of pain and thus reducing the need for unnecessary tests. These other conditions are often linked to right side abdominal pain symptoms:
In fact, this is the most common cause for pain in the right side of abdomen, it is caused due to inflammation of the appendix. It usually starts around the navel moving towards the lower right side of abdomen. The severity can vary from dull to severe pain. Usually seen in individuals of 9 to 40 years of age, appendicitis pain is seen in combination with vomiting, nausea, fever, vomiting, and appetite changes. Constipation or mild diarrhea is also noticed in some cases.
If you have kidney stones in the right kidney, a sudden and intense pain may be experienced in the right side of abdomen. It starts on the upper right of abdomen and moves towards either the genitals or the navel.
See here for more information on Symptoms of kidney pain.
A dull or severe pain in the upper right part of abdomen which is just below the right side rib cage suggests a gallbladder disorder due to either gallstones or gallbladder inflammation. The pain feels like it comes in waves and usually after meals. Lasting for few hours, it is usually accompanied by vomiting.
Hernias, may not be painful at all times, but a hernia can create severe right side abdominal pain. Often the steadily increasing pain is followed by nausea and vomiting.
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Right Ovary Pain:
An ovarian cyst may rupture or twist and cause sudden moderate or severe pain in the lower right abdomen. It is often accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The pain tends to spread downwards to the thighs.
Pregnant women may experience a sudden pain in the lower right abdomen. It is usually accompanied by dizziness and vaginal bleeding. This is due to an ectopic pregnancy and requires an immediate medical care. An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the embryo is growing outside the uterus. This condition is life-threatening to the mother. The fetus will not survive. 
A right side abdominal pain can also be caused due to food poisoning. Often it appears as dehydration and respiratory, neurological or cardiac problems along with abdominal pain.
For further information see:
- Food poisoning causes, signs and symptoms
- Food poisoning diagnosis and treatment
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
A severe pain in the right abdomen could be due to tearing of abdominal aorta walls. Usually this accompanies symptoms of heart disease.
Often confused with appendix pain, mesenteric lymphadenopathy is seen most often in children. The child experiences pain in the lower right abdomen. Unlike appendicitis, the child’s appetite remains unchanged. Enlargement of neck glands and sore throat are other signs noticed along with trapped wind, blood in stool, constipation and pulled muscles along with abdominal pain. The mesentery is two thin layers of cells that encase the intestines and attach them to the abdominal wall. 
Other less common causes of abdominal pain are those with symptoms concerning disorders of urinary tract, liver, pancreas or heart. Though very rare, symptoms of diseases like ulcerative colitis, infectious colitis, colon cancer, and Chron’s disease are noticed along with right side abdominal pain.
Treating Abdominal Pain of Right Side
Right side abdominal pain treatment starts by identifying the actual cause of pain. Diagnosing the actual cause of pain is difficult due to the presence of numerous organs in the right side of abdomen. Any abdominal pain in the right side can be temporarily subdued by using pain killers until the results of diagnostic tests point a particular disorder.
The actual cause of the pain needs to be determined before deciding which protocol to follow to try and cure right side abdominal pain. The diagnostic tests include X-rays, MRI, colonoscopy, ultrasound, endoscopy, barium enema, and blood, stool and urine tests.
Any abdominal pain that persists for more than 3 days should immediately be referred to a doctor. Never ignore persistent or severe abdominal pain. The symptoms of right side abdominal pain play a vital role in diagnosing the cause without tests. Until the diagnosis of the actual disorder that caused the pain, the patient’s only relief may be pain killers. Once diagnosed, the proper treatment for the malfunctioning organ or structure can be started based on the condition.