Rib pain on the right/back side - Afte... - British Liver Trust

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Rib pain on the right/back side - After a hospital stay, nobody has a diagnosis!


Hi everyone. Apologies if this seems like a weird post, but honestly, I'm not sure where to go.

I am a 34-year-old man, a bit underweight, healthy diet, drink more than I should (around 40 units a week - a couple of pints a night). I used to abuse alcohol quite considerably worse, but we're going back about ten years there.

About a fortnight ago I started getting quite a dull, constant ache in my right-hand side, pretty much around the liver area, which radiates to my back. It got considerably worse, the paramedics came out (I telephoned 111) and they took me to the hospital due to quickened heartrate and a few other oddities.

The doctors did an MRI, a CT and an ultrasound. They found no oddities in my bloods, nothing odd in my organs (bar a cyst on my spleen - they're checking that out soon) - but noted my common bile duct was dilated heavily (no stones evident). Liver good, kidneys good, pancreas good. I was kept in for a week, and in that time I got sick and increasingly painful. Then, a few days ago, the pain subsided back to the same dull ache as before and now I'm just left with these vague flu-like symptoms - and the bile duct reduced back to normal.

Doctors have ruled out gastritis etc, but cannot understand why I have this flu-like feeling and dull right-back ribcage aching. The weirdest bit? They discharged me, and have ordered a bunch of additional outpatient tests - an endoscopy and repeated bloods - to keep an eye on it.

Has anyone experienced a similar (or even vaguely familiar) set of circumstances? I'm completely at sea as to what could be causing this. It's always there, it's always uncomfortable, and I'm feeling quite ill. I don't have any loss of appetite or anything, I just feel drained and nauseated - as well as having that constant throbbing pain in my ribcage.

All help is appreciated.


7 Replies

First, hang in there. Next, it sounds too familiar... Here's what I did. Read all that interests you in the diet section of the fatty liver foundation. Add good olive oil to your diet & black coffee. Throw away all the soybean oil products (which was everyone of my salad dressings!) and begin life again. Please, avoid alcohol. All of it for now. Think of it as healing for your liver. Trust me. Start here & you'll sleep better. Keep us posted. Hugs for now. You have some reading to do. Enjoy!

TotoMimo in reply to AllHis

Just a huge thanks for responding, AllHis. To be honest I can't even be sure if it IS fatty liver (as we ruled out liver problems in the scans/bloods etc) but naturally, I'm happy to try anything.

I eat very healthily - very little red meat, tons of green veg, plenty of fresh water and so forth... with a few caveats (with my only vices in this world being chocolate and beer - I have a piece of chocolate a day and the equivalent of 4-5 units of lager in the evening after all my work is done). On the alcohol side of things, I definitely DID previously abuse alcohol in my 20s, but those days are behind me, and though the troupe of doctors that asked me about my alcohol intake seemed quite unconcerned when I told them about my 33-38 units of alcohol I now consume in a week - saying that it was "far less than they expected, when [I] told them I drank a lot" they also said "despite ruling out all problems with your liver, pancreas, gallbladder on a MACRO level, that's not to say we can't rule out every single problem on a MICRO level".

One doctor assured me that being on the low end of healthy weight, eating properly etc really makes it seem more likely to be a gallbladder or even a pancreatic issue, but that's just conjecture really.

I won't make excuses for my drinking - I have done in the past, saying that "I've more than halved my intake", or "I know people that drink three or four times the same as I do" - but the doctors didn't seem quite so concerned by it after I revealed the "shocking" amount I was having, and if anything, I'd find it quite surprising if my liver was having a hissyfit with my lifestyle being quite... well, overwhelmingly clean in a lot of ways!

But hey, it's all subjective, my daily salads, litres of water and two-three light beer cans a night might be positively demonic to another person!

Thanks again for your input.


Hi Tom. I have liver cirrhosis and experience the aches/pains you mention. I have had these for years. My liver problem has been caused by hepatitis C and high alcohol consumption. The hep has been treated and I no longer drink alcohol. The damage has been done and it's not repairable. So I take care of my health as best as possible and accept the pain as my purgatory for my abuses. I would get checked for Hepatitis.

Good luck.

TotoMimo in reply to Rhubarb17

Thanks a lot for your help.

I've been for a high contrast MRI scan (with metal injections) and hopefully I get a good update this coming week.

Crossing my fingers.



Did they check for pancreatitis? What you described sounds exactly like it.

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis:

Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back; it may be aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.

Swollen and tender abdomen

Nausea and vomiting


Increased heart rate

Chronic pancreatitis had similar symptoms. Hope you get sorted soon 😊

Hi there everyone.

To let you know, I've been through the MRI, the gastroscopy and blood tests. All have showed up normal. There's a tiny cyst on my spleen, but nothing showing on my gallbladder or liver, and I'm informed splenic cysts are pretty normal.

I went to speak to a surgical consultant for my ongoing hypochondriac region pain and fatigue and he asked about my diet - I'm an ex-anorexic, you see, so my metabolism is quite poor and I'm of slight build (5'7 and 120lb) - but I mentioned I've been increasing my intake with a very varied diet (which is true), to 2000 calories a day, and including lots of green vegetables, yoghurt, fruit and fish.

Since my original post I've taken my alcohol consumption down around 8-10 units (to about 30 a week total), but he noted that my radiating pain and fatigue could still be caused by this, and to attempt a week or so off it( though I noted that I'd had a week off alcohol not too long ago and saw no real relief, but he insisted I should try it again).

I think I'm quite tired (both physically and mentally, now!) and though I SAY I could try anything, I'm going to find eliminating alcohol out of my life COMPLETELY quite difficult (I have significant pain in my bones due to grade 3 osteoporosis and a couple of bottles of beer in the evening really eases that pain - moreso than even my codeine and oromorph I get prescribed!). I've even started to consider more... exotic kinds of pain relief (the kind you experiment with in uni!), because if I'm to be teetotal, I'm going to be in a lot of pain (I always take a Thursday off alcohol and Friday morning is by far the most painful my body gets. In addition, that week off I told you about - I went through two whole boxes of codeine, it was torture). I'm sure that sounds like an excuse, and I'm not entirely sure it's not, but I have a very healthy diet, I'm not a smoker, I've now taken my alcohol consumption down to (1982) government requirements - I think maybe I'm feeling a little injusticed somehow.

Anyway thank you for hearing me out, my situation is clearly far less serious than some of you so I appreciate your time - if you can offer any further advice I'd absolutely adore that.

I've been to multiple scans now, (MRI, X-Ray, endoscopy, bloods etc), and all they can suggest is that "it might be your sphincter of oddi, or capsular stretched liver due to your occasional alcohol use".

Would you not actually SEE these things in an MRI? I'm utterly perplexed here.

Thanks in advance, as ever.

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