Gallbladder is small organ which is located close to the liver and helps in digestion of fats as well as concentration of bile produced by liver. Any pain associated with this small organ is called gallbladder pain. The gallbladder receives bile from the liver, deposits it and passes it in the alimentary canal when required. One of the most common factors that cause gallbladder pain is presence of large gall stone inside the organ. The pain experienced due to gall stone can be excruciating. Sometimes so intense that it may rate 10 on the pain severity scale. This pain is quite comparable to pain experienced due to kidney stone. This is the reason why it is also referred to as gallbladder attack.
This pain may range from mild to severe. Such a pain is experienced due to gall stones. A medium sized gall stone may measure approx 2 cm which may block the bile flow and fluids that come through bile. Gradually more of such stones may develop and obstruct the cystic duct. This duct is the passage that connects bile duct and gallbladder. If intestine stops receiving sufficient amount of bile, the digestion process becomes significantly affected. Supply of nutrition to the body is highly hindered as break-up of fat molecules does not happen appropriately. In severe cases of blockage the gallbladder may enter into an attack stage which causes sharp ache-waves traversing throughout the body from the organ.
Gallbladder Pain location
Intense gallbladder pain is often experienced in a small region below the lower-right ribs. In some cases the pain may also be experienced in the upper-middle back in the middle of the shoulder-blades. The pain exacerbates minute by minutes. Gallbladder pain is one of the most unbearable aches and this pain is a medical emergency. It is crucial to call for emergency medical attention or hurry to the hospital.
Gallbladder Pain Causes
In almost all cases of gallbladder pain there are two common causes behind the condition namely gallstone and cholecystitis. As explained above gall stones are stones form inside the organ causing obstruction. These stones are made of bile pigment or cholesterol. These may vary in size. On the other hand Cholecystitis is an inflammatory condition of gallbladder. In fact this condition is also caused due to gall stones commonly, but there are also some less common factors that may cause cholecystitis.
There are other biliary causes of gallbladder pain. Biliary colic is experienced with sudden blockage of the duct. There are other factors that can cause such sudden obstruction for instance bleeding in the duct or presence of parasite in the duct; however, these are rare factors. In some cases slowly progressing blockage does not lead to biliary colic. In case if the slow progression is superimposed with sudden blockage, then such colic may be experienced. This is why even gradually progressing cancers of gallbladder, pancreas or bile duct may cause biliary colic.
In order to diagnose the condition of gallbladder pain or biliary pain ultrasonography is often recommended. However, in order to confirm the prevalence of condition blood test is also suggested to evaluate liver and pancreas. In case of any abnormalities are recorded it indicates issues associated with liver, bile duct as well as gallbladder (with aminotransferases count) or else on pancreas (with amylase count). Though these may not specifically point out the issues rapid increase or decrease in the count suggests blockage of the biliary duct. The best test for diagnosing gallstone is endoscopic ultrasonography, but it is costly and may involve complications.
Gallbladder pain Symptoms
Though pain in gallbladder itself is a symptom of anomalies associated with gallbladder, there are other signs that may accompany the primary symptom. These signs may include:
- Inappropriate or poor digestion with bouts of stomach bloating and constipation
- Lethargy and fatigue throughout the day which may occur due to insufficient supply of nutrition caused due to low absorption
- Since blood has high concentration of bile the skin and sclera (white of eye) may have a yellowish tinge
- The affected person may also suffer from recurrent episodes of fevers accompanied with chills
- The condition may also cause diarrhea and vomiting
The gallstone may also traverse towards the duct system and obstruct the pancreatic juice flow in some cases. This may hinder the digestion several and make the sufferer weaker increasingly day by day.
Gallbladder pain relief
Though the pain may be intense there are certain ways in which one can try to lessen the gallbladder pain. Here are some methods that may help in gaining some relief from pain.
- Drinking plenty of water is suggested as this may lessen the pain by the time you reach the hospital
- It is also said that some may obtain slight relief by lying on their side. It is better to experiment the lying positions till you find a comfortable posture
- Placing heat-pads on the location of the pain may also aid in reducing the intensity of the pain, however, you should cease its use if it does not lessen the pain
Though these are some possible ways to subside pain until you reach hospital, they are just temporary ways of reducing pain. You should try to prevent the pain from occurring further. This can be done by visiting a doctor and getting yourself diagnosed. Your doctor will perform necessary tests and suggest some medicine to prevent or at least control the pain further.
Gallbladder pain treatment
Since gallbladder pain is mostly caused due to gallstone (even in case of cholecystitis) it is crucial to deal with gallstones in the organ. Gallstone can be removed using medicines as well as shock wave therapy. In case if other conventional methods do not work, then surgical procedure can be adopted for treating the condition. During surgery the gallbladder is completely removed as it causes no harm to the body. It is important to discuss about surgery with your doctor before undergoing it. You should gain information on the risk involved, time required for healing.
Apart from surgery some lifestyle changes would speed up the process of healing and help in dealing with gallbladder pain. To prevent gallbladder issues from occurring you should avoid eating saturated fats as it increases cholesterol level in blood. This cholesterol may get collected in the liver and reach the gallbladder. This cholesterol may harden and form gallstone. You can prevent the condition from occurring by eating pear fruit or drinking its juice. This cleanses the colon properly. Along with this other prevention method includes, maintaining healthy weight, avoiding unhealthy habits, avoiding junked foods etc. In case you experience gallbladder pain seek medical aid right away.