Pain on the right side of the abdomen can be caused by conditions such as appendicitis, hernia, kidney issues, reproductive system issues, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, or even gas.
There are many possible reasons for discomfort in your right abdominal region. There are a number of organs in this area: the appendix, a part of the large and small intestines, the right ovary in females, and the right urine duct.
More often than not, however, pain in the lower right abdomen is nothing to worry about. It’ll go away on its own in a day or two.
If you’re experiencing persistent discomfort, though, you should see a doctor. They can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis.
The following are potential causes of lower right abdominal pain:
- Appendicitis: This is the inflammation of the appendix. It can cause pain in the lower right abdomen, which may come on suddenly and worsen when you move or breathe. This condition requires immediate medical attention because it’s possible for the inflamed appendix to burst.
- Kidney infection: This is caused by bacteria that usually come from your urinary tract. One or both of your kidneys could be affected by the infection. Although you may feel pain in your lower abdomen, discomfort from a kidney infection more often occurs in your back or sides.
- Kidney stones: These are hard buildups of minerals and salts that can form inside your kidneys. You may not feel any pain if the kidney stones are small. If a large kidney stone begins to move around or pass into the tube that connects your kidney and bladder, you may feel severe pain in your lower abdomen, back, side, or groin.
- Hernia: This develops when a part of your body pushes through the lining or muscle that holds it in place. Most hernias happen in the abdomen. They can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This is a common long-term condition that affects up to
12%of Americans and causes abdominal pain, among other digestive symptoms.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This shouldn’t be confused with IBS. It’s a group of serious digestive disorders that cause changes in bowel tissue and increase your chance of colorectal cancer. They include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which inflame your digestive tract and can cause abdominal pain.
- Dyspepsia (indigestion): This happens after you eat or drink something, but it can happen at other times, too. Pain usually occurs in the upper abdomen, though it may also be felt lower. It may feel sharp, dull, or like burning.
- Intestinal gas: This is often caused by food not broken down completely until it reaches your colon. As gas builds up, it can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and a “knotted” feeling in your stomach. Burping and passing gas (farting) usually provide relief. In fact, it’s typical for a person to expel gas up to
30 times a day. Excessive gas can sometimes be a symptom of a digestive disorder like IBS, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or lactose intolerance.
The following conditions can cause lower right abdominal pain in females:
- Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps): This is a symptom of menstruation. They can happen before or during your period. The cramps are often felt on either or both sides of the lower abdomen, where your uterus contracts to get rid of its lining.
- Endometriosis: This is a long-term (chronic) condition where cells that usually line the uterus, called endometrial cells, grow outside the uterus. If your period cramps are particularly severe, ask your doctor to evaluate you for endometriosis.
- Ovarian cysts: These are sacs filled with fluid found on or within the ovary. Many cysts don’t cause pain or discomfort, and they may eventually disappear. A large ovarian cyst, especially if it ruptures, can lead to serious symptoms, including dull or sharp lower abdomen pain. A ruptured ovarian cyst can be a life threatening condition if it isn’t treated promptly.
- Ectopic pregnancy: This happens when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. It can cause abdominal pain, along with other symptoms. It can also rupture your fallopian tube, which is a medical emergency.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): This is often caused by a bacterial infection, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Many of the infections that cause PID are transmitted during sex, but not all, such as bacterial vaginosis. It can cause pain in your lower abdomen.
- Ovarian torsion: This happens when your ovary, and sometimes the fallopian tube, becomes twisted, cutting off the organ’s blood supply. The condition is also known as adnexal torsion and can cause severe lower abdominal pain. Ovarian torsion is a medical emergency, and surgery is required to untwist the ovary.
[the terms “male” and “female”]
In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).
Chromosomes determine sex, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.
The following conditions can cause lower right abdominal pain in males:
An Inguinal hernia happens when fat or part of the small intestine pushes through a weak part of your lower abdomen. It’s the most common type of hernia. Males are
Other than abdominal pain, you may notice a bulge in your groin area between your thigh and lower abdomen or in your scrotum. Sometimes, the hernia can become stuck or strangulated. This can be a life threatening condition.
This twisting can cut off blood flow to your testicle, leading to sudden and severe pain and swelling in your scrotum, which can radiate to the lower abdomen. It usually requires emergency surgery.
For less severe cases of pain in the lower right abdomen, you can try using home remedies, resting, and taking over-the-counter medications.
Some causes, like abdominal gas and indigestion, may resolve on their own without any treatment necessary.
If this does not relieve your pain and your pain is light-to-moderate, make an appointment with your primary doctor. They will do an evaluation and, if needed, will refer you to a gastroenterologist (stomach doctor) for further testing.
If your pain is severe, go to the emergency room to rule out a serious cause like appendicitis.
If you have lower right abdominal pain, you might be wondering if you need to go to the emergency room.
Most of the time, lower right abdominal pain isn’t serious. You should get immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing sudden, severe abdominal pain or your abdominal pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- a feeling of pressure in your chest
- pain in your chest, jaw, neck, or arm
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- difficulty or pain when swallowing
- blood in your vomit or stool
- persistent nausea and vomiting
- skin or eye whites that appear yellow (jaundice)
- severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen
- unusual swelling of your abdomen
- black or tar-like stool
- persistent loss of appetite
- unusual weight loss
If you notice these symptoms, call 911 or local emergency services or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Treatment can help prevent these symptoms from becoming severe or life threatening.
You should make an appointment to see a doctor if your lower right abdominal pain lasts more than a few days or causes you any concern.
In some cases, abdominal pain can have a serious underlying cause. If you have severe symptoms, get emergency care right away.
Mild cases of abdominal pain can usually be treated at home. For example, changing your eating habits can help prevent gas and indigestion, while certain pain relievers can help control menstrual cramps.