British Liver Trust

Pain when exercising?

Forgive me if this is absolutely ridiculous as a question, as I am aware that it could just be a stitch (!) but has anyone else experienced sharp stabbing pains under their rib cages when exercising over the liver area? I'm fairly fit and run/exercise regularly, but have found recently I am suffering from pain fairly regularly now.

I've been referred to a hepatologist as my LFTs have come back elevated for the past four months but didn't experience these pains before I became aware of a possible 'issue'. Perhaps this is psychosomatic?

5 Replies

Psychosomatic or not, you are experiencing pain and this is the body's way of telling you something is wrong. Mention it to your GP in the first instance and it may be enough of an alert for a further referral to the hepatologist. Mike

1 like

Hi Louisa, If you have swollen organs then, on bending etc. your ribs may dig in to areas that they didn't before. As an example,, I have a very swollen spleen (distends about 10cm below the ribs) and when I bend "wrongly" it gets pushed by the bottom of the ribs and, though not a sharp pain, a definite discomfort is apparent. As Mike says, pain is the body's way of saying there's something wrong so see the quack! Good luck Phil


Hi, it is possible you have an infection causing the LFT s and pain. I wouldn't worry too much at this stage x


Afternoon all, and thank you for your replies.

My GP has been amazing these past few months and been very proactive, but my first appointment with a heptalogist is at the end of April, so I will mention it then. I just didn't want to embarrass myself by mentioning it and for them to say that it was only a stitch!


I have been having a stitch like pain for ages on right side under ribs that comes and goes but is recently extremely painful. I keep getting told it myust be gall bladder but there are no issues besides and enlarged bile duct suggesting I perhaps passed a gall stone but not explaining ongoing worsening pain that is quite debilitating. I'm overweight (size 16) but now struggle to exercise as the pain gets unbearable. Ultrasound showed fatty liver but doctor said this is generally not symptomatic. However, in desperation after months of tests and brush offs by doctor, I turned to google. Look up stitch pain right side on google and you'll find a load of people that have been through countless tests and suffered tremendous pain forcing time off work, trips to A&E, very strong painkillers etc. This does seem to be related to fatty liver disease and potentially inflammation. I'd stress I'm not a doctor but the forums seem to suggest that a change in diet, no alcohol and avoiding sugar particularly is helpful along with complementary therapies not endorsed here. I'm noting everything I eat and drink and exercising as much as I can bear and I've noticed that sugar seems to be a real trigger - honey and fruit are fine strangely. Be careful what you take in terms of supplements too as a family friend damaged her liver severely with diet and health supplements when she was younger and had to have a transplant.


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