Pain as first symptom of liver disease - British Liver Trust

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Pain as first symptom of liver disease

farranccc profile image

Hi all, I hope you are all well.

I was just wondering whether any of you had right upper quad pain as an initial symptom of cirrhosis (or any other type of liver disease).

I’ve had pain for 5+ years and multiple scans and bloods but never managed a diagnosis.

I see lots of posts on here about liver pain but very few people return to update on the cause.

Many thanks x

20 Replies

My initial diagnosis came from stomach pains and not RUQ pain. I recently started having pain in the RUQ after I lost weight.

My symptoms initially were ruq pain and fatigue. I had had gall stone pancreatitis leading to a couple of hospital admissions just after my first baby. Then when my 2nd baby was about a year old the pain reoccured. I had various tests, it took over 2 years until I was diagnosed with PBC. That was Nov 2006, biopsy confirmed bridging fibrosis in Feb 2007.

I had a transplant on 7th February 2020.

Pain is a strange thing, especially in that area. There are numerous structures. Also visceral pain has a tendency to cause referred pain, so where you feel it may not be where the pain is caused. I had a lot of shoulder pain for example.

Good luck stay safe x

Hi farranccc

I had pain like that 25 years ago. Itching and very tired for 5 years my Gp said it was stress, a new Gp came and took bloods I was very quickly sent to see a liver specialist more bloods, scans then a liver biopsy, I was diagnosed PBC and I managed to continue to nurse for 10 further years, then I retired as my symptoms got worse had my gallbladder removed but had complications I just survived but I now have scans every 6 months with bloods also done but due to three operations I now have three hernias , I still get upper right sided pain also dead center pain, I have oesophageal varacies, they bleed and then I get endoscopy due too my anaemia but other persons are worse than us we get pain killers but still suffer terrible bone pain ,stomach pain, terrible itchy areas of the body, but we must plod on.

I due hope with further tests you are able to get the answers you need best wishes ☺️

Amethyst91 profile image
Amethyst91 in reply to Cat19

Hi there, for you or anyone diagnosed with PBC, I’d like to ask a question. I’ve been suffering from all the same symptoms on this thread and I was a heavy drinker and only 29 yrs old. I’ve quit since May and extremely changed my lifestyle only for my pain to become more sever and now have additional problems that seriously makes me feel as though my body is wasting away and mainly on the entire right side. I’ve had mitochondrial (m2)antibodies done in august and in October this year and both times came back as <20.0, which on lab report says negative and also multiple drs tell me it’s negative and not to worry but seeing as it’s right on the boarder line I’m very worried about it. We’re your tests ever on that boarder line then moved to the positive range?

No i never had any pain. My initial symptoms were itching and my bloods were picked up during a routine blood test

Hi farranccc

My liver pain was never upper right but my wife had lots of pain for years there and they couldn’t find what it was until some bright spark realised that the gallstone filled the gallbladder it was ONE LARGE gallstone.

Just a thought good luck

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Dogbot 🐶🌈

Hi Farranccc- The trouble with RUQ pain is that (as you may see in other posts) it is so hard to pin it down to a single issue. I have had it now for over 12 months but every test I have had has come back clear. The things I am trying to do is now look at lifestyle issues. I have no (red flag) symptoms, so the G doesn’t seem that interested in me. If you haven’t already done so - quit drinking alcohol - easier said than done sometimes, get your weight into your BMI target range and as long as you are not exhibiting any of those red flag (yellowing, jaundice, unexpected/unplanned weight loss etc etc) you may have a benefit. As someone who suffers from terrible health anxiety be careful of Dr Google as well - I know that when I am stressed it gets far far worse. The people on this site are pretty positive and you get some good info but don’t go looking to see if your symptoms fit THAT disease ! Stay well and as importantly stay positive

Liver disease is known as a silent one because there is generally no pain involved - the liver itself has no pain receptors. Sometimes if the liver is inflamed and enlarged it can have a knock on effect on stretching the glisson's capsule when encloses the liver or by pressing on other abdominal organs but liver damage is usually silent.

Certainly my hubby got all the way to decompensated liver disease (auto immune) with no knowledge he was poorly inside.

If you've had countless scans which have revealed your liver is ok then I would trust that your liver is not cirrhotic. Even an ultrasound can see that my hubbies liver is cirrhotic, CT and MRI when he has had them have also 100% confirmed this.

Have you had investigations into your gall bladder, it is the most common cause of pain in the liver region?


farranccc profile image
farranccc in reply to AyrshireK

Hi Katie,

Thanks for replying - you are so knowledgeable on all the liver stuff.

I have had all sorts of tests including the gallbladder but nothing found.

I presume it is liver related though because it hurts more if I drink alcohol. Apart from cirrhosis what other liver diseases could cause this type of pain?

I wish I could just find out!

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to farranccc

Have a look at "alcoholic gastritis" - I am not saying it is that but as you say it increases when you've been drinking it's a possible. If your getting this pain after drinking and you are concerned it may be your liver, why are you still drinking alcohol?

Potential signs and symptoms of alcoholic gastritis include:

- Upper abdominal pain, ranging from a burning ache to stabbing pain.

- Nausea and vomiting.

- Bloated or full feeling in the abdomen.

- Regurgitation of food.

Alcoholic gastritis is one of many physical conditions that can develop as a result of abusing alcohol. This problem may seem to be nothing more than a recurrent stomach ache after drinking or heartburn, but it could signal the development of additional health complications such as ulcers that might be avoided altogether by not drinking.

Your pancreas is also in the same region of your abdomen and it too does not like alcohol.

Pancreatitis and alcohol

It most often happens after an episode of acute pancreatitis. Another top cause is drinking lots of alcohol for a long period of time. Damage to your pancreas from heavy alcohol use may not cause symptoms for many years, but then you may suddenly have severe pancreatitis symptoms. Pain in the upper part of your belly that goes into your back.

If alcohol is causing you issues with pain and you are concerned enough about it that you are convincing yourself you have cirrhosis then the question remains why drink the alcohol?


farranccc profile image
farranccc in reply to AyrshireK

Thank you again Katie.

I have almost stopped drinking but it is not only caused by alcohol. Fatty food, coffee, fizzy drinks, paracetamol and sometimes randomly all cause the pain.

I have tried quitting everything for months and only eating chicken and veg but still I get the pain. The doctor told me to try and get some form of balance.

Chris884 profile image
Chris884 in reply to AyrshireK

I talked to you a few years ago about my situation. I had hep c back in 2007. Took treatment. Virus was gone. Had ct scans up until 2013 every says liver appears normal. Still don’t have insurance. From when I changed jobs. But was wanting to ask you I do drink off and on and have noticed I have thin veins around nose area is that a sign of cirrhosis. Really worried it is. Last blood check up was in 2017 Doctor said blood test were normal.

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to Chris884

Thread veins arn't necessarily anything at all to do with cirrhosis - they can be related to weather, sun exposure and more. It's a great pity you arn't insured and able to get some proper tests. You should be getting regular scans after your Hep C treatment to keep a check on your liver, blood tests as we've discussed before don't always reveal the full picture. I would question whether it's wise to be consuming any alcohol at all having previously undergone treatment for Hep C but that's a personal choice I guess.

Here's an NHS page on rosacea which is the most common cause of facial thread veins.


Chris884 profile image
Chris884 in reply to AyrshireK

The veins are at the open of my nostrils and 6 months ago I had a bad cold running nose. Pain inside left nostril then all of a when the pain started in Left nostril blood started dripping. Cold went away haven’t had that since. That scared me. I am thinking I had bad cold because clear running nose started first with the pain and coughing.

Chris884 profile image
Chris884 in reply to Chris884

Just wondering if that sounds odd to you

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to Chris884

Sounds like it just weakened the vessels round your nostrils with all the nose dripping and no doubt wiping and nose blowing.

I am not a doctor but i've certainly had nose bleeds and when i've had a cold and a bad runny nose and I don't have anything wrong with my liver.


Chris884 profile image
Chris884 in reply to AyrshireK

Okay. Because It kinda scared me that it was cirrhosis or something. But like I said it felt like my whole left nostril was in flamed when it happened. Nothing since then. 6 months ago.

No, not for me. Mine was picked incidentally from tests results for other things.

I had RUQ pain and tenderness when my liver function was pretty bad before I was diagnosed with PBC. Every now and then I will get the same pain but not very often anymore.

I now have pain when exercising. Last year went to the emergency room three times due to RUQ which also radiated to the back. Correlation to liver disease and exercising was never made. I just made the connection when a hard fast walk causing more pain than a gentle stroll.

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