Liver Pain


The liver is one of the most essential organs in the body. It is a very important organ and when it is not working well can cause many other issues. It provides various metabolic functions.


  • Works as a filter to get rid of toxins.
  • Assists in clotting factor formation.
  • Stores sugar for when the body needs it.

Liver Location

Where is the Liver located?

The liver is a large organ that spans from one side of the abdomen to the other. It sets directly under the diaphragm and is a bit larger than a football. In the image below you can see the various anatomical regions of the abdomen.

The liver touches the right lateral or lumber, the Right hypochondriac, Epigastric and the left hypochondriac regions. Other than the intestines it is the only organ that enters into so many of the abdominal regions.

Liver location is in the right upper region of the abdomen picture

Picture 1 : Liver location is in the right upper region of the abdomen (image shows nine quadrants of abdomen)

location of the liver: on the right side mostly inside the ribcage image

 Liver is located in the right upper region photo

Picture 2 : Liver is located in the right upper region (right hypochondriac and epigastric region)

Liver Pain Location

What is liver pain? Where will I feel liver pain?

Liver pain is not an actual diagnosis and is accredited to various diseases of the liver. Due to the necessity of the actions of the liver the pain should be taken seriously. The pain caused by the liver is usually felt in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and sometimes radiates into the back. Liver pain can often times be confused with abdominal or digestive issues.

The pain felt due to liver disease does not usually originate in the liver itself because it has no actual nerve endings. The swelling and inflammation of the liver pushes on its covering tissue or liver capsule causing pain. A dull back ache or abdominal pain could be caused by this type of liver swelling or inflammation.

Liver Pain Causes

If you feel upper right quadrant back or abdominal pain after drinking alcohol this may be due to a diseased or irritated liver. This is because the liver has to work to filter the toxins that come from alcohol out of the blood.  This pain would be reflected a few hours after drinking and not directly.

If you feel upper right quadrant back or abdominal pain after eating a large meal or foods that contain high amounts of toxins you may have liver issues. Again the liver needs to process the toxins from your blood. This should not be directly after eating but more like a couple hours after. If the pain is directly after eating then the problem is more likely digestive.

Other symptoms that may be associated with liver issues are as follows:

  • mental confusion
  • irritability
  • headache
  • depression
  • muscle pain
  • some allergic reactions

Diagnosis whose pain is similar to liver pain:

  • Gallstones
  • peptic ulcer
  • Irritable bowel syndrome also cause pain in the area of liver.

Important notice: It is been found that alcoholism is the leading cause of liver disease. It can cause liver inflammation, trauma, infections, and even liver cancer.

Common causes of liver pain are detailed below:

Liver cancer

Malicious tumor of liver is responsible for pain in this area. . After medical screening and different tests, physicians easily detect it. Liver pain may be constant and dull; sometimes it may be sharp in nature.

Cirrhosis

Though it can be due to viral infections or other causes but is usually caused by alcoholism. This is a condition when liver cells and tissues get deteriorated thereby reducing the functionality of the liver. Associated causes with this condition are Hepatitis B, C and D.

Enlarged spleen

Infections and excessive workload on the filtering capacity of the spleen can cause the spleen to become enlarged. This puts pressure on its surrounding organ systems and can also cause liver infections.

Fatty liver disease

This is usually caused by an accumulation of too much fat within the liver cells due to poor diet. The liver gets enlarged and liver tissues can no longer function as they should. Although alcohol abuse often is the cause, infections, toxins, and obesity are also common causes of nonalcoholic fatty diseases.

Liver cysts

It is an abnormal accumulation of fluid that may form within the liver. The exact cause of this condition is not clearly known. It is found by chance and usually does not produce symptoms. Pain can be felt only when the cyst is found to be chronic. Pain can be felt at the top of the abdominal area and also at the tip of the right shoulder.

Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis is scarring due to multiple damage in the liver. It is usually noted in late stage liver disease and is usually irreversible. Pain is not usually a symptoms of cirrhosis. If you suspect you may have cirrhosis of the liver you should seek medical attention.

Hemochromatosis

Excessive iron deposits, have been found to damage the liver along with various other organs. This also causes the liver to malfunction and can lead to fatal hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Wilson’s disease

Excessive copper accumulation within the liver causes Wilson’s disease. This excess copper deposits in the liver can thus also lead to cirrhosis and hepatitis. This disease is usually incurable and can create complications within the body.

Differential Diagnosis

Liver pain can be triggered by multiple conditions, from inherited to chronic diseases. Whatever the cause, it is right to have a proper diagnosis and treatment early on in order to prevent future complications that can be life threatening.

The exact cause of liver pain is usually found out via certain tests.

  • Urine tests and blood tests are usually the first to be conducted.
  • Liver enzymes and alpha fetoprotein are detected through blood test. When they are present in higher amounts in non-pregnant adults, this shows the possibility of liver cancer or other related liver problems.
  • Screening for toxic substance abuse is also essential if the cause of liver problems is due to toxins or drugs exposures.
  • Further examinations will be considered if patients have multiple symptoms.

Endoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan, and biopsies are some other tests suggested to determine the exact cause.

  • Endoscopy and ultrasound scans are used to diagnose cirrhosis and liver scarring.
  • Liver biopsy is also used to diagnose cirrhosis and other type of chronic hepatitis.

These tests are needed to determine how serious the liver damage is, since chronic damage could lead to liver cancer.

What to expect when being check out for liver pain.

Your physician may ask you about:

  • intravenous drug use
  • Consumption of contaminated food
  • Consumption of polluted water
  • your recent trip to any other city/country
  • A history of physical contact or sexual partners
  • History of recent blood transfusion
  • Current medications

Remedies and Treatment for Liver Pain

  • Healthy diet coupled with a regular exercise should be practiced daily
  • Avoid any addictive habits as they can prolong the liver pain.
  • Antiviral drugs are prescribed in case of viral infection
  • Drink a good volume of water
  • It is also advisable to maintain good personal hygiene and follow sanitary measures.
  • If patients are unable to eat food, they are advised to stay in the hospital to fill in the loss through IV saline treatment.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Take vitamin A, B1, and K,
  • Naturally detoxify the body through herbs or supplements

To prevent liver pain:

  • Do not overindulge in alcohol. Abuse can cause serious liver damage.
  • It is important to take physician’s advice and use drugs only after consultation.

Patients with cirrhosis and any acute liver diseases are difficult to cure. They should practice preventive measures to avoid malfunctioning of the liver. As long as their liver is functioning, they still have a better chance of survival. Therefore, they should take care themselves and follow the observations noted above.

Acute hepatitis has no specific treatment but preventive measures can be practiced such as:

  • Regular vaccination to prevent the spread of hepatitis virus
  • Giving patients the right amount of healthy food to eat
  • Giving the right dosage of medicine

What pain meds do not affect the liver?

All pain medications are filtered through the liver and may increase liver damage. Any medications taken should be under strict medical supervision and always taken according to the prescription.

FAQs:

How can I prep for my liver biopsy?

You may need to stop taking certain medications that your doctor has prescribed. Most doctors will ask for various blood tests to be done beforehand. Depending on your doctors preference you will be asked not to eat or drink for 6-8 hours before the biopsy. You need to be aware if you will be sedated during the procedure so you can ask how long your recovery will be and if you need to have a driver to come get you after the procedure.

How do you get rid of fatty liver disease?

The only cure for fatty liver disease is long term healthy life changes. You will need to have a healthy diet and proper exercise routine.

What is the cause of fatty liver?
The most common cause of fatty liver disease in excessive alcohol intake but can also be caused by fatty diet and sedative lifestyle.

Is liver disease curable?

This depends on which liver disease you have. See the article above for more information.

Can you feel any pain with a fatty liver?

The pain does not come directly from the liver but from surrounding structures that may have pressure on them due to liver inflammation and swelling.

Is liver cancer painful?

The pain does not come directly from the liver but from surrounding structures that may have pressure on them due to liver inflammation and swelling.

References:

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/
  2. http://www.newhealthguide.org/
  3. http://www.nhs.uk
  4. http://www.webmd.com/
  5. https://www.cancer.org
  6. http://www.liverfoundation.org
  7. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/
  8. http://www.mayoclinic.org/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK421/
  10. http://pain.com/library/2011/10/07-liver-pain/


Published on by under Pain Management.
Article was last reviewed on September 26th, 2017.


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