While you typically cannot cure liver pain at home, you may be able to reduce it with overall healthy habits, including drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet.
Liver pain is a common complaint in healthcare, but it’s not usually something you can treat or cure at home.
For some people, drinking too much alcohol or other substances can cause liver pain, but most of the time this pain can be a symptom of other liver problems. In this article, you’ll learn what the liver does, why it might hurt, and what kind of treatments to expect.
As the largest solid organ in your body, your liver does important work:
- breaking down fats and other substances
- creating energy from the food you eat
- filtering out toxins and other substances from your blood
Located in the upper right part of your abdomen, you don’t usually “feel” your liver until something isn’t working correctly.
There are lots of conditions and diseases that can impact your liver, including:
- autoimmune hepatitis
- biliary atresia
- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
- Reye’s syndrome
- liver cancer
- Budd-Chiari syndrome
- Wilson’s disease
- portal vein hypertension
- traumatic injury
- ingestion of toxins
- excessive alcohol consumption
Not all of these conditions result in noticeable pain. There are a number of other symptoms that can develop with liver disease, including:
The type and duration of the liver pain you feel will mostly depend on what’s causing the pain. If you ingested a toxin or engaged in a brief period of excessive alcohol consumption, liver pain could last for days to weeks depending on:
- how much you drank
- how often you drink heavily
- how long you abstain from alcohol
- how much water you drink
For many people, though, liver pain only appears in the advanced stages of liver damage from alcohol consumption.
Pain is common with most other chronic liver diseases, too. One study reported that up to
Talk with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing ongoing liver pain, shoulder pain, or any other symptoms of liver disease.
How your liver pain is treated will depend on the cause of your pain. For most people, a healthcare professional will have to determine the precise underlying cause for their pain before starting treatment. Even then, it can take some time to improve your condition and relieve pain.
Most liver diseases can’t be cured, so treatment focuses on slowing the progression of your disease and preventing further damage.
Some common treatments for liver disease focus on things such as:
- keeping up a moderate weight
- managing blood pressure
- removing excess fluid from your body
- removing toxins that can build up
- controlling symptoms such as itching or pain
In severe cases, a healthcare professional may be able to offer you liver dialysis. This is a treatment similar to hemodialysis for kidney disease except that it filters liver-specific particles that can build up in your body from liver disease. For some people, though, liver transplant may be the only treatment option.
The best way to control liver pain naturally is to keep up overall healthy habits. This can include:
- eating an overall healthy, balanced diet
- drinking enough water
- avoiding alcohol consumption
- controlling your blood pressure
- avoiding the overuse of medications
If you have a known liver disease, natural treatments may be helpful in improving your quality of life, but they can’t replace treatment from a healthcare professional.
Liver pain after a known ingestion of excessive medication, toxins, or alcohol isn’t always an emergency, but it depends on what you ingested and how much. If you have ongoing liver pain — or even shoulder pain — it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional about screening for liver disease.
You should also alert a healthcare professional if you have any other symptoms of liver disease such as jaundice or fluid buildup in your abdomen.
If you already have liver disease, be sure to keep up with the treatment regimen prescribed to you by a doctor or healthcare professional. This may include a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medications and other treatments.
Liver cancer can happen to anyone at any age, but people with existing liver diseases are at the highest risk. The pain associated with liver cancer can include things such as:
- pain or discomfort in the upper right part of your abdomen
- a hard lump on the right side of your abdomen just below your rib cage
- a swollen or bloated belly
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- shoulder or back pain
- yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)
- easy bruising or bleeding
Treating this kind of pain differs from other treatments for liver disease in that you might also need to receive radiation or chemotherapy. A healthcare professional may also prescribe you stronger pain medications such as steroids or opioid medications.
By drinking too much alcohol, or any other toxins, you can also experience liver pain. But this usually only develops after extreme or prolonged heavy alcohol use. For many people, pain doesn’t develop until they have already developed more significant liver disease.
For some people, it’s possible to experience liver pain from more brief periods of binge drinking. If this happens, abstaining from drinking alcohol and consuming a lot of water may help alleviate your pain.
Liver pain from chronic liver disease can be severe and difficult to treat, but it’s also possible to have more mild liver pain from the overuse of certain medications or heavy alcohol consumption.
Abstaining from alcohol, eating a health, well-balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water may help alleviate temporary liver discomfort. If you have ongoing liver pain, you should see a healthcare professional to rule out any more serious liver diseases.