Gallbladder Pain – Where Does It Hurt?
One of the first signs that a person’s gallbladder problems, is pain. In fact, experiencing gallbladder pain may be an unpleasant surprise for people who feel otherwise healthy.
Where on the body does this pain appear and how can you tell if your symptoms are gallbladder related?
Most people experience a severe, aching or gnawing pain in the upper-right abdomen, just under or behind the ribs. It doesn’t always stop there though. Pain may transfer to areas like the right shoulder, chest or back due to nerves, which travel through these areas. Severe epigastric and back pain is often associated with nausea and may cause vomiting.
The pain from an attack or biliary colic (inflamed bile duct) can last anywhere between 15 minutes and a few hours. Pain related to stones lodged in a duct can be excruciating and last several hours. When a severe attack doesn’t resolve on its own, it is recommended to seek medical attention.
If you have just begun to feel discomfort related to gallstones and inflammation, you might have noticed that this troubles you within a couple hours of eating a meal high in fat, or late at night, and there are a few reasons for this. Many people are woken up from sleep with a gallbladder attack and can fear a heart attack or back problem because of the way pain radiates.
The gallbladder is a small, oblong organ located just under your liver and it plays a key role in helping you to digest fats. When you eat, signals go from your stomach to the gallbladder, letting it know how what volume and concentration of bile to release into the digestive tract to help break fats down.
Fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D and K rely on the emulsification of fats to ensure the small intestine absorbs and uses these vital nutrients. If the gallbladder is struggling to function well, you’ll notice that high-fat and greasy meals cause pain shortly after eating, while your digestive system tries to cope.
As well, at night many people are still digesting a heavy, rich meal or snacks that they consumed after dinner. Ancient Chinese medicine assigns a time each day for an organ’s energy to peak and function at its highest. Traditional Chinese medicine says that the gallbladder’s peak time is between 11pm and 1 am, which, coincidentally or not, is when many people find themselves headed to the ER with severe gallbladder pain.
If you experience upper abdominal pain, nausea, back or chest pain after eating, you may be tempted to dismiss these gallstones symptoms as indigestion or heartburn. Though many people will live with gallstones that cause no trouble for them, once pain begins it will typically become worse over time. It is important not to ignore symptoms of gallbladder pain and instead look into what health, exercise and dietary changes you can make to ease the stress on this important part of the digestive system.