There are several reasons why you might experience pain in your lower right abdomen — also known as the right lower quadrant (RLQ). And though it might be tempting to let your thoughts drift to more serious causes, it’s important to keep in mind that reasons for experiencing pain in the RLQ can range from harmless to severe.
Below, we’ll talk about what each of these causes entails. But while self-diagnosis could be useful in some cases, nothing replaces the advice of a medical professional.
“Anyone with abdominal pain should seek immediate medical attention if the pain is severe, also felt in the chest, accompanied by fever, bloody vomit or stools, or if the abdomen is hard or swollen.” Stephani Laing, CEO, ACP, an Advanced Care Paramedic at Elite Emergency Response Inc. tells Considerable.
Again, there are many cases where abdominal pain can be the cause of something less severe. Perhaps your lower right abdomen is hurting due to one of the reasons listed below.
RLQ pain could simply be caused by gas or indigestion. If you’re experiencing indigestion (which may be accompanied by flatulence, heartburn, or other similar symptoms) there’s typically no reason for concern, unless it lasts more than two weeks.
Indigestion can also lead to gas and bloating, which is another cause for discomfort or RLQ pain but usually will pass in a matter of hours.
2. Kidney stones
A more severe cause of RLQ pain might be kidney stones. This is when salts and minerals build up in the kidney into hard lumps that can vary in size.
Sometimes kidney stones that are smaller in size will simply pass through the urinary tract. But larger stones may become stuck, resulting in significant pain.
Along with pain, an individual might experience blood in the urine, persistent urge/pain when urinating, and nausea or vomiting, according to Medical News Today.
According to Healthline, a hernia occurs when an internal organ or a part of the body pushes through muscle or tissue that holds it in place and protrudes from the body in an abnormal way. Many types of hernias happen in the abdomen, which is why RLQ pain might be related.
Other symptoms you might experience along with abdominal pain are feeling full or constipated, swelling or bulging at the site, and pain while lifting, laughing or crying, coughing, or straining.
4. Kidney infection
If bacteria spread from the uterus, bladder, or urethra, it could result in kidney infection. One or both of the kidneys may be affected, and though abdominal pain may be a symptom, an individual more typically experiences pain in their sides, back, or groin.
If you suspect your RLQ discomfort is caused by a kidney infection and you’re also experiencing fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, increase in urination frequency or increased urge to urinate, cloudy, painful, or pussy/bloody urination, seek medical attention immediately.
5. Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for two separate conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), IBD is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and prolonged inflammation could result in permanent damage to the GI tract.
If your RLQ pain is accompanied by severe diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, blood in the stool, fever, or reduced appetite, you might be suffering from IBD.
6. Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that targets the large intestine — it shouldn’t be confused with IBD.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with RLQ pain, IBS could cause gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea/constipation, or both. Doctors aren’t sure what causes IBS, according to the organization.
7. Pelvic inflammatory disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs and is often caused by some STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, PID can also result from other infections that are not sexually transmitted.
If you have PID, other symptoms you might experience in addition to RLQ pain would be fever, unusual/odorous vaginal discharge, burning during urination, or pain/bleeding during sex.
8. Ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovary and are a very common part of ovulation. Many women with ovarian cysts don’t experience symptoms; the cysts are harmless and go away on their own, Womenshealth.gov explains. However, there are some cases where large cysts rupture and lead to severe pain. In this case, it’s important to see your doctor.
“The appendix is located in the right lower quadrant (RLQ) but interestingly, the abdominal pain can start on the left side or around the belly button before moving to the right lower abdominal area,” Laing tells Considerable.
According to Laing, the danger with appendicitis is that if an inflamed, infected appendix ruptures, it can spew bacteria into the body and causes sepsis. “Sepsis causes severe illness and can lead to death so it’s important to get appendicitis ruled out by a doctor if you’re experiencing persistent abdominal pain and suspect appendicitis,” she says.
10. Ectopic pregnancy
“In women of childbearing age, an ectopic pregnancy can also cause RLQ pain,” says Laing. “An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube.”
Women who suffer ectopic pregnancies often don’t know yet that they’re pregnant, explains the paramedic, and this would require emergency surgery. This is due to the fact that if an ectopic pregnancy causes rupture of a fallopian tube, the result can be severe internal bleeding, shock, and possibly death.
11. Testicular torsion
Testicular torsion is a serious condition in which a man’s testicle twists and loses its blood supply, and according to Clevland Clinic, this condition requires emergency care.
If the blood supply is not returned to the testicle within six hours, the testicle may need to be surgically removed. If you experience swelling of the scrotum along with RLQ pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, or uneven testicle position, seek medical attention.
12. Inguinal hernia
An inguinal (or groin) hernia occurs when part of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the abdominal wall at the inguinal canal (a passageway near the groin). According to Harvard Health, inguinal hernias are up to 10 times more common in men than in women.
You might not experience any symptoms at first, but if you notice severe RLQ pain or pain in the groin along with a bulge and suspect it’s an inguinal hernia, see your doctor.