Could this pain under my ribs & around my back be connected to my periods and not gall-bladder / IBS problems as previously thought?

(34 Posts)
NorbertDentressangle Tue 02-Feb-10 14:18:45

Brief history -for about the last 3 years I've had occasional severe pains and aches under my ribs and around to my back (probably once every 3-6 months, lasts a day or two each time).

Initially GP thought gall-bladder (symptoms were perfect match) but tests showed no problems. Referred to a Gastro consultant who suggested an IBS-like problem and said to go back to GP for anti-spasmodic meds for if/when it flares up again.

Anyway its slowly dawning on me that I think the flare ups might be occuring at the same point in my menstrual cycle , about a week before period actually starts. The pain doesn't seem to be in the 'right' place IYSWIM as its too high at the front but my whole lower back seems to be achey. When I've had period pain before (not something I've suffered from much TBH) its been very low down (front and back) but has also been the day before/first day of my period not a week before

Could it be connected?

Is it actually a menstrual thing rather than a gastro thing?

Anyone had similar problems?

OP’s posts: |
mrschigur Tue 02-Feb-10 20:06:01

It might be worth looking into endometriosis.

NorbertDentressangle Tue 02-Feb-10 20:15:57

Thanks mrschigur -I've just had a look at Endometriosis on Netdoctor and NHS Direct but it suggests the pain being a lot lower. I'll bear it in mind though.

Also, just in case its relevant, I'm nearly 43 <<gulp>> so wondering if it could be something perimenopausal.

OP’s posts: |
mrschigur Tue 02-Feb-10 22:13:00

I'm not much of an expert, but I understand the most common sites are low down, but it can occur higher up. Apparently some people get it misdiagnosed as IBS or other gastro thing when they don't have the typical reproductive organ type symptoms or period pain. I don't know how to do links properly but this is worth a read.

Whatever it turns out to be, certainly worth going back to your GP with your new observations to see if that helps fill in the blanks.

Honneybunny Tue 02-Feb-10 22:15:22

snap. are you me confused???
i was just going to post the exact same story.
the only difference is that my problems started about 1.5y ago, so not as long as
yours. You poor thing! sad

Like you, gall bladder was the first suspect, as all my complaints were typical gall bladder. I saw a specialist who was so convinced it was my gall bladder that he wanted to book me in for the op to have it removed, and then the ultrasound was all clear.
Was discharged in April 09 by him, under the promise that i could come back should the complaints return. Have since had several episodes (not as extremely painful as the ones that made me go to gp), but had bad attacks in November, December and now. Each time has been about a week before the start of my period, which is v.light usually, as I have a mirena coil.

Yesterday night the pains were so unbearable that I crawled to bed at 8pm. Also had chills. Keeping a hot water bottle on the sore spot seems to help, but only ever so slightly. I have now made an urgent appointment with the specialist. I will see him on Friday, and will see what he says....
I can keep you posted in case he says something interesting.

Honneybunny Tue 02-Feb-10 22:24:43

mrschigur thanks for your link on endometriosis: although i suffere from many of the symptoms listed, i also found that the mirena coil is often used to treat cases of endometriosis, so i guess it is not likely to be that for me then....

mrschigur Tue 02-Feb-10 22:48:15

Well I've had the mirena for years and recently diagnosed with endo (hence jumping on Norbert's thread). Apparently the hormones slow things but don't stop them. There are other treatments, like surgery (coming soon to me!).

I don't want to say everyone with these symptoms has endo, but think it is worth throwing in the mix if docs aren't getting there.


NorbertDentressangle Wed 03-Feb-10 09:41:09

Hello again

Thank you, I'll take a look at that link later Mrschigur, it looks as if it goes into a bit more detail so may throw some light on the matter.

Honneybunny -yes please, do keep me posted as it sounds like we're experiencing very similar things here. Hot water bottles are the only thing that seems to help me too. Ideally I'd like one that wraps all around covering my front and back! I ended up going to bed early last night and just curling up and going to sleep with my hot water bottle. Feel a lot better today

After an attack/episode of pain though, do you feel really 'bruised'/sore afterwards? Thats how I feel today -upper abdomen really tender if pressed and a general soreness.

OP’s posts: |
Honneybunny Wed 03-Feb-10 20:16:49

NorbertDentressangle, I liked your description of the wrap-around-hot-water-bottle. I have one of those bean-filled hotpacks, that you can stick in the microwave. It is quite big, but still only covers my tummy. The way I have solved it is to take a flat pillow in my back, the hotpack in the front, wrap around a blanket and sit in front of the radiator.
When dh caught me sitting like that Monday eve, he kindly offered to bring the ds-s to bed, do the dishes, and made me a cup of tea. He's lovely, and I'm lucky smile!

Yes, soreness I get as well. Feel like a bruised apple today and -although i am feeling much better than yesterday and Monday- have still got a slight nagging pain.

We seem to be very synchronised grin. I know this will sound strange, but I am sort of glad I have foudn someone who knows exactly what it feels like.

Just out of interest, do you have either the mirena coil or thyroid problems?

NorbertDentressangle Wed 03-Feb-10 21:06:23

I know what you mean about finding someone with the same symptoms. I've seen a lot of gall bladder threads on here, some of which I posted or lurked on for a while but now I'm not sure where I belong confused (ooh, my first chance to use the confused emoticon!)

Who/what is the specialist you're seeing on Friday? Is he a Gastro person? or something else?

As to the mirena coil or thyroid problems -no to both.

OP’s posts: |
Honneybunny Thu 04-Feb-10 18:20:02

he's a gastroenterologist, same one I saw last year with same symptoms.

after seeing mrschigur's link and reading more on endometriosis i will definitely ask dr about it tomorrow (thanks mrschigur). a lot of the symptoms match up with mine: extreme tiredness, which so far i had put down to my thyroid (as this has been off for a while), pain in right shoulder/upper arm, cyclic pain in abdomen, blood in stools, nausea, constipation, to name a few. during the ultrasound they also found a large number of cysts on my (left) kidney, so i wonder if that might be linked as well (although the pain is on right).

also saw mentioned a number of times, tat endometriosis and autoimmune diseases (like my hypothyroidism) are often seen together...

am sort of hoping it is just my stomach though.....

NorbertDentressangle Fri 05-Feb-10 21:20:55

How did you get on Honneybunny?

Did he manage to throw any light on the matter?

OP’s posts: |
Honneybunny Fri 05-Feb-10 23:19:11

hi again, thanks for checking on me smile
no real results yet i am afraid... just some bloods and i have to go for some scans, possibly next week.

when i mentioned the cyclical pattern of the pain, he did remark that the only thing he thought could be like that was endometriosis. i mentioned you and mrschigur, as examples of women with similar problemsgrin.

he seems really thorough and clearly wants to get to the bottom of this, but he is really a gallbladder/liver kind of doc though, so it may not be where his expertise is... i am hoping the bloods will give away some clues as to what is going on.

the doctor seems to be absolutely convinced that i should have gall stones, as my symptoms are so typical for it. he did say however that he will refer me to the relevant colleagues should i turn out not to have stones and the results from the tests suggest something else is amisss.

i feel much better now, although i still have a nagging feeling on the right under my ribs, a bit as if i have a balloon that is overinflated in my rib cage. hope you are feeling better as well norbert.

sugartits Fri 05-Feb-10 23:29:15

I fortunately don't have the same symptoms as you ladies, but I have. It was suspected gall bladder/ibs/constipation and went undiagnosed for two years, during which time I suffered on and off. Eventually it was found to be kidney stones. I'd done a urine dip stick type test at the gp's and nothing had come up, so it wasn't looked into. However when I was given an ultrasound they were found. My stones were very small and lots of people have small stones without any pain, so even then the Dr wasn't sure if it was the cause. I was refered onto a urologist(sp) and sure enough it transpires that sometimes small stones cause pain because they move around a lot. I had the stones treated and haven't had any flare ups for a few years now.

What you describe sounds just like the pain, more of a dull ache almost like a period pain. Reaching from the front to the back almost in the way your hand would if you put your hand around your waist iyswim. I also found it went when I had my period (no idea why) and often got worse just before.

Anyway, it's worth a thought and don't be put off by a urine test at the GP's - ask for a scan.

Honneybunny Sat 06-Feb-10 13:23:21

hi sugartits (grin at your name), thanks for your post.
glad you got your kidney stones sorted, and that you are symptom-free now.

i have had an ultrasound scan where they looked at all the organs in the upper abdomen. spleen, liver, kidney, gall bladder and stomach. the doc commented on that i looked so healthy that he wished his organs looked like that. i am sure he wouldn't wish to feel my pains every month though.

the only thing he commented on was that there was a large number of cysts in the left kidney. i was told that some stones (in either kidney or gall bladder) are difficult to see on US scans, either because of their size or their composition, but that on a CT scan these might show up. i am hoping to have one of those next week, as the consultant said that should nothing come out of the US again, i'd be sent for a CT scan.
he was quite concerned when i mentioned that when i have my pain, i often have blood in my stools as well (sorry if TMI).

i know that there is definitely something not right, why else would i be in such pain?

peregrintook Sun 07-Feb-10 21:22:01

Ooohhh thanks for posting this. I get the same sort of pain - had it last week, always in the middle of the night and about 8 - 10 days before Im due. Its a stabbing pain and is agony for several hours

The Drs have always said its IB colic type pain but now you have me wondering if its endo

ZoZosmama Sat 30-Mar-19 18:29:54

Hello, I know you posted this a long time ago! I'm having very similar symptoms and wondered if you ever got to the bottom of it ? Thank you smile

Mrschille Mon 26-Aug-19 21:17:07

About a decade later and I'm wondering if you ladies ever found answers! I'm going through all this now and we are starting with the gallbladder US here soon... But my symptoms are crazy similar to the ones posted here. I'd love to hear any updates you all have!smile

Oldcroc Sat 07-Dec-19 13:30:52

I'm also a decade late seeing this but have had similar pains for over an year now (45 yrs old). I have mad pains around my ribs. Sometimes one side, then the other, sometimes both sides, always the side and back though, never the front. It only happens around ovulation and a day or so before my period starts, they get so bad they turn in to mad spasms that stop me in my tracks. Have been to see the doc but he thinks I'm overreacting, makes me bend and stretch then recommends Pilate's, which has never helped. I did mention to him that I thought it was hormonal but he dismissed that totally. (I'm still convinced it is, I know my own body, it happens every month) I'm now just hoping I grow out of them!

Megps87 Thu 23-Jan-20 22:33:16

Hi ladies, I know some of these posts are from a while ago but thought I’d post...
I’ve been experiencing pain on the right lower right rib cage, it some times feel like a deep ache and other times it just hurts to the touch.. I’ve had ultra sounds, ruled out gallbladder issues or my appendix.
Just recently it dawned on me that this pain seems to come during ovulation and a week or so before my period..
so my question is, is this where you are feeling your pain? And what came of it?

ChrisA1 Wed 26-Feb-20 05:38:09

Hi. Late comer to this thread. Extreme pain on left side rib cage. Hurts especially when I cough or breathe deep and now I can’t sleep on my left side which I always do. Pain started Friday, so bad I went to ER. They said it was muscle spasms. Got period on Sunday and pain has decreased but worse when lying down. Thought it was GERD but pain in ribs reminds me of when I was pregnant and rib cage was stretching. So I think it must be hormonal. Waiting for end of period and if pain continues will go to dr -ask about endometriosis. Anyone else have similar pain?

Banan1hj Mon 09-Mar-20 19:16:17

I get thos rib pain on my left too. On meds for ibs but they dont seem to work. I do feel bubbles moving, like gas, sometimes. It does seem to flair up at hormonal times. It used to be just below my ribs but it seems to be higher this time. Hot water bottle helps. I do have a kidney cyst on that side. Feel like I'm stabbed in the ribs 😯

KarmaReinerman Thu 19-Mar-20 15:43:24

I'm late to the party as well. Same pain, in the area of the gall bladder. So I've been going to doctor's since January 14, 2020, because the pains have become unbearable. My case is a little different than you all since I was diagnosed with a diseased gall bladder with no stones at 16 years old. Periodically through life, 42 now, I have suffered on and off. Since November of 2019, it is accompanied by extreme lower back pain. I've also noticed it is occuring the last day of my menstrual cycle and again 2-3 days prior to and after my ovulation cycle. It is also accompanied with nausea.
Approximately 12 years ago, I went through a gambit of gastro testing including a stomach biopsy and CAT scan for the same condition. The only thing that was found was an ovarian cyst. So I went to my gyno and the condition seemed to rectify on its own. So now here I am 12 years later with the same unbearable pain. I went to my gyno first this time, they did an ultrasound and found no cyst or evidence of Endo, of course, it is very rare to find Endo through ultrasound, sonagrams are much more effective. During my vaginal ultrasound, the tech was unable to locate my right ovary. She had to do a topical ultrasound, my right ovary is located next to my belly button, odd right? I thought so. My gyno stated there was nothing wrong and just wanted to put me on pills to mask the symptoms I am having. No band-aid is being put on this issue, I need to know what exactly is wrong, I won't stop until I do.
So onto the next doctor. Nothing is confirmed at this time, but will be in the next two weeks, but she is a diagnostician. She believes I am insulin resistant, which I found after research, over time causes fatty liver if not treated timely. So I've been dealing with this on and off for over 15 years, I would say it was left untreated. So this could be the problem entirely. It should also be noted that insulin resistance causes your good cholesterol to show low and bad to be high, along with hormone imbalance, PCOS, IBS and thyroid malfunction. So I suggest that you all seek medical advise from a doctor, don't just accept a pill, get appropriate testing to determine exactly what you have.
The doctor I am seeing now said covering up the symptoms with medication is one of the worse things one can do. With insulin resistance you have to treat the illness, treating your symptoms makes the issue worse. And to be tested, you cannot be taking all of the masking medications. Endocrinologist can test you and give a firm diagnosis or a good diagnostician.
If any of you were able to get a firm diagnosis, I would be interested in your results.

naughtymutha Mon 23-Mar-20 08:59:38

I am having the same issues as many of you too. Since December, things haven't been right. I started off having a UTI (with minimal symptoms) and was given 2 consecutive doses of antibiotics and it was only a trace of microscopic blood that they could find. Then, in January around my menstrual cycle, I started to get this strong ache a bit like a stitch under right rib which moved to my back on and off. I didn't worry about it too much and in Feburary had my next period with no issues. 2 weeks later I had another period (but didn't feel like a normal period as it was more like spotting). I don't know if the UTI is in connected to any of this??

Anyway, plenty of pain and discomfort, but not every day - almost one day on, one day off. Got referred to get an ultrasound to check for stones - all has come back clear, but was particularly bad last night and even uncomfortable to lie on. No blood in stools, but sometimes my appetite goes away and my bra can feel tighter by the evening.
The GP had asked me to call after February's spotting period to have a pelvic exam, but since the corona crisis, that's not happening any time soon. I have noticed over the past few days that the stitch/cramp feeling is radiating toward my lower right side which is where I would usually get my period cramps (I only really have a period cramp on the lower right side). I'm at a loss now and really unsure what to do - except just live with it. I hate that I have to keep taking ibuprofen (one dose every other day) and hope that it goes away. With the current crisis it just makes me more anxious that if it is something more serious, it will turn into an emergency. I am 47 and I'm hoping it's just a perimenopausal thing. Any advice much appreciated.

Les22 Tue 21-Apr-20 20:43:26

I'm glad to see people with similar symptoms. My pain seems to be right below my breast, usually on the left side but at times wraps around my entire chest. I, too, have been tested for gallbladder issues, have had CTs, Xrays, Ultrasounds and everything comes back fine. The pain for me usually starts around the beginning of my peroid and last sometimes for a week or two at a time. I also have some dizziness when this is happening. Is anyone elses pain up higher, more in the chest area and have any dizziness?

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