Sharp abdominal pain in the right side: causes, symptoms, possible diseases

Medically reviewed: 1, September 2023

Read Time:6 Minute

Sharp pain in right abdomen: what are the causes?

Pain is one of the most unpleasant symptoms that signals that there are disorders in the body. Hardly anyone can not notice such a symptom, especially if the pain is very intense and occurs suddenly against a background of complete well-being.

Pain in the abdominal cavity is not uncommon, because it contains a large number of different organs, nerve plexuses and blood vessels.

If you have pain in your right side, you need to recognize its causes, because it depends on what measures should be taken to alleviate the condition. Usually the appearance of pain in the right side testifies to the pathology of the organs located in this area. But there are often cases where pain in the right side is a symptom of a disease of organs located in the other part of the abdominal cavity. In such a situation, one can not do without the help of a specialist.

Usually the sudden appearance of pain makes one consult a doctor, sometimes the pain syndrome is so intense that the patient needs a call from an ambulance team.

Addressing to the doctor it is necessary not only to name the localization of pain, it is desirable to determine its character (cramping, pulling, expanding), and also to remember what events preceded its appearance. This will help the doctor make a preliminary diagnosis and refer the patient to the necessary diagnostic procedures.

The causes of the appearance of sharp pain in the right side may be various, but most often this symptom is associated with the pathology of the liver, gallbladder and its ducts. Less often with such a complaint apply to patients suffering from diseases of the duodenum and the genitourinary system.


Sometimes, in acute conditions such as acute appendicitis or rupture of the fallopian tube in ectopic pregnancy, severe pain may be localized in the right side, or be combined with pain in other areas.

Abdominal pain in the right hypochondrium

Intensive pain in the right upper quadrant is often a sign of acute cholecystitis.

It is in this area that pain arises with diseases of the liver, bile duct and duodenum. Periodically appearing pulling pain in this area may indicate the presence of chronic diseases of these organs. But a sharp increase or sudden appearance of pain can be a symptom of hepatic colic. The reasons for this condition can be several:

  • a blockage of a stone or a tumor in the mouth of the bile duct,
  • spasm of the biliary tract,
  • resulting in stagnation of bile in the gallbladder and a sharp overstretch of its walls.

Such a condition requires immediate medical attention, and in some cases, an urgent surgical operation is necessary.

Acute conditions associated with diseases of the liver and biliary system, which can cause severe pain in the right hypochondrium, rarely arise without apparent reasons against the background of the patient’s overall health. Most patients can for a long time to bother with periodic pain in the right side under the ribs, the severity associated with eating or drinking alcohol.

Therefore, when such “small” symptoms appear, it is better to consult a doctor, this will help to avoid exacerbation of diseases.

Acute appendicitis

The sudden appearance of pain in the right iliac region can indicate the diseases of the organs located in this zone (ileum, appendix, ascending part of the colon). Most often acute pain in the lower abdomen on the right occurs with acute appendicitis. The intensity of pain rapidly increases, other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, are often associated.

If you have any of the symptoms described above, you need to see a doctor, as in most cases, patients need urgent surgery.

Ectopic pregnancy

In women of childbearing age, the appearance of sharp pain in the lower abdomen from the right side can speak of a violation of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, in which the fetal egg is fixed not in the uterine cavity, but in the right fallopian tube.

There are two variants of spontaneous interruption of tubal pregnancy: tube rupture and so-called abortion, in which a fetal egg enters the abdominal cavity. In the first case, the pain syndrome is difficult to distinguish from that of acute appendicitis, and in the second, the pain usually has a cramping character.


A distinctive feature of the pain syndrome in the interruption of tubal pregnancy is the irradiation of pain in the rectum and perineum. This pathology threatens the life of a woman and requires emergency surgical treatment.
Torsion of leg of ovarian cyst

In women of any age, pain in the right iliac region can occur when the leg of the right ovary cyst is twisted. Pain in this case arises suddenly, and its intensity is so great that a woman can lose consciousness.

The pain is worse with the slightest movements, perhaps a slight increase in body temperature, stool and urination disorder, often there are spotting from the genital tract. In this pathology, urgent surgery is also required.

Ovarian apoplexy

Another gynecological disease, in which there may be a sharp pain in the lower abdomen on the right, is apoplexy (rupture, infarction) of the ovary. According to statistics, this pathology in most cases arises precisely from the right side and in the clinical picture resembles a violation of ectopic pregnancy.

With apoplexy of the ovary, bleeding occurs, which can be quite abundant and lead quickly to the development of anemia. Medical tactics are determined by the intensity of bleeding. With insignificant blood loss, conservative treatment is sufficient, and with severe anemia, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Renal colic

The exit of the calculus from the kidney to the ureter is accompanied by intense pain, which in the case of right-sided lesion is localized in the right side.

Renal colic can occur if the patient has urolithiasis. When a stone hits the mouth of the right ureter, a severe sharp pain arises, radiating into the right iliac region. The nature of the pain syndrome very often resembles that of acute appendicitis, so even the most experienced physicians may have difficulty in the differential diagnosis of these diseases.

However, there are some signs that help the doctor establish a preliminary diagnosis. With renal colic pain gives in the lower back and groin, the patient is very restless, he can not find a position of the body in which the intensity of the pain syndrome would decrease. In addition, patients often have disorders of urination and the appearance of blood impurities in the urine.

If you suspect a development of renal colic, you should immediately consult a doctor, because when confirming the diagnosis, the patient needs hospitalization in the hospital.

Based on the results of the examination, the doctor chooses the tactics of treatment, in most cases it is possible to manage conservative treatment.

In case of sudden appearance of sharp pain in the right side, self-diagnosis and self-treatment should not be done, since the appearance of this symptom may indicate the emergence of serious pathologies requiring emergency medical care.

To which doctor to apply

When acute pains appear in the right hypochondrium, an ambulance should be called up, which will take the patient to the surgical hospital. There will be a survey, including ultrasound, radiography of the abdominal cavity and others (according to indications).

Depending on the cause of the pain, the surgeon, the gastroenterologist, the gynecologist, the urologist can be engaged in treatment.

This article is written by

Anastasia Hansen
Anastasia Hansen, Assistant Nurse, brings a wealth of experience from diverse hospital units in Kalmar, Sweden, specializing in stroke, pulmonary diseases, hematology, and emergency care. Born into a medical family, Anastasia's comprehensive medical knowledge stems from self-study, hands-on experience, and formal education. Currently, she works in her field while pursuing a business and economics degree. Anastasia is also the proud owner and chief editor of

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