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What Are the Most Common Causes for Right-Side Stomach Pain?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Right-side stomach pain can have many different causes, ranging from something as minor as constipation or trapped intestinal gas to more severe causes such as appendicitis and ectopic pregnancy. Any pain that occurs to the right of the imaginary line down the center of the midsection, through the belly button and down to the top of the genitalia is considered right-side stomach pain. Although many causes of this pain are usually not life-threatening, anyone who has severe or ongoing pain should be evaluated by a medical professional.

The right side of the abdominal cavity is home to many organs and bodily structures, and each one is a possible root of the pain. Organs include the appendix, liver, gallbladder, right kidney and part of the intestines. In women, the right ovary and fallopian tubes are also present. Structures include the blood vessels, the ureters that drain from the kidneys and the skin covering the entire region on the outside.

In many cases, right-side stomach pain is caused by relatively harmless conditions or factors. Trapped air in the intestines can cause abdominal discomfort, as can indigestion. Pain from a pulled muscle on the right side can radiate throughout the abdomen. Even a bruise or cut on the surface of the skin can cause pain in the underlying tissue that can be mistaken for deeper stomach pain.

In women, ovulation in the right ovary can cause right-side abdominal pain. In more severe cases, the pain might be caused by an ovarian cyst, ruptured ovary or ectopic pregnancy — a pregnancy that occurs inside the fallopian tube. When ovulation is the culprit, the pain is usually felt as a sharp twinge that fades within a day or so. Women who are experiencing extreme pain or a stabbing sensation should seek medical attention.

Appendicitis is one of the more severe causes of right-side stomach pain. The pain is usually felt in the lower right abdomen, below the level of the belly button, and it usually persists over several days, increasing in intensity. Additional signs of appendicitis include loss of appetite, chills, nausea and fever. The intensity of the pain typically increases during movement. People who suspect appendicitis should seek emergency medical attention, because a ruptured appendix can be fatal.

In some cases, the right-side stomach pain does not even originate in the stomach. Lung conditions can cause the pain to radiate downward from the site of the infection or disease, reaching the abdomen. A tumor in another part of the body can cause pain to travel down to the stomach region as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon943547 — On Apr 02, 2014

I have the same pain but when I drink or eat it feels okay. If I brush my teeth and don't eat, then it gets worse, so my only thought is teeth acid that leaked into stomach and caused this pain.

By anon931230 — On Feb 07, 2014

I've had the pain on my lower left side of my abdomen and also on the right. A couple of times, it has been severe. I went to a&e, took a blood test and it was all clear, but they gave me pain killers specific for kidney stones. They appeared to work, when if I didn't have kidney stones they shouldn’t have worked. They where concerned about whether to send me home but did anyway. I am waiting to see a urologist and hope to get some answers.

By anon924420 — On Jan 04, 2014

I have had right side abdominal pain for a month and all reports are normal. I can't understand what type of pain this is.

By anon356521 — On Nov 25, 2013

I have a sharp pain that is deep inside. The pain goes from my belly button to my side, and from the top of my hip/vaginal area to just about the belly button. If I press hard, it will bring tears to my eyes. The pain goes all the way through to the spine. I have felt a knot about the size of a grapefruit at times, but I cannot always find it.

The pain has been going on for about four or five months. My feet, ankle and legs have been retaining fluid and swelling for about two months now. I have been gaining a lot of weight lately. In the past five months I have gained about 30 pounds. My diet hasn't changed any. I am afraid to go to the doctor. It's not that I am afraid of them. I just can't afford the bill right now. What could it be, and should I reconsider going to the doctor or wait?

By anon352156 — On Oct 20, 2013

I have polycystic kidney disease. I am 26, and I work under a lot of stress. Recently I started feeling pain in the upper right abdomen. It actually all started out with a pain in the right side of the mid back, just to the right of my spine. I'd feel it sometimes during workouts when I'd contorted my body in some different way. I shrugged it off as probably muscular. Then after a while, I had a pain in the region where my kidneys are, and I could feel a lump in my back where my kidney is. My blood tests have all come in normal. But now, I'm feeling an additional pain: upper right abdomen, a sharp pain, that becomes stronger when I press the point in my back where I felt that pain while working out. It is starting to radiate to my sides.

After identifying the lump in my kidney area, I stopped working out, stopped eating so much, reduced protein intake, and haven't been eating every three hours any more. I thought maybe his sudden change might have something to do with my stabbing abdominal pain.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes.

By anon332703 — On Apr 30, 2013

I have had pain in my stomach for many days and also in my right side. What might be the reason?

By OeKc05 — On Apr 23, 2012
I've had pain in the right side of my stomach that was caused by constipation. I had been backed up for four days, and the pain was incredible.

The sharp pain made it hard to stand up straight. I knew I had to do something, so I took a strong laxative designed to totally cleanse my system.

I had severe cramps while the waste was working its way out. It made me feel as if I could vomit. I had diarrhea after the initial waste exited, because the medication was so strong.

The pain in my right side lingered for the rest of the day. I think that all those cramps probably further aggravated my colon.

By wavy58 — On Apr 23, 2012

Appendicitis is so scary. My best friend suffered from it, and she waited a whole day to go to the hospital. By the time she did, she was in the worst pain she had ever felt.

It all started when she felt a pain in her belly button. It gradually moved over to her right side, and it would not let up. She started to sweat and feel very sick at her stomach.

She would alternate between fever and chills, and her mother finally convinced her that she needed to go to the emergency room. Sure enough, she had appendicitis. She had to go into surgery right away.

By lighth0se33 — On Apr 22, 2012

@orangey03 – It seems that more than one cystic syndrome can cause pain in the right side of the abdomen. I have polycystic kidney disease, and I suffer from pain in this location whenever a cyst ruptures.

My kidneys are covered in cysts, and they are enlarged. From time to time, a cyst will burst, and I will feel intense pain in one spot on my right side. All I can do is take pain medicine.

Thankfully, this only happens maybe once or twice a year. When it does, I bend over in agony and cannot straighten up until the pain pill kicks in, which can take up to an hour.

By orangey03 — On Apr 21, 2012

My friend has polycystic ovary syndrome, and she sometimes gets intense pains in her right side. It's like a stabbing pain that goes on and on, and she has to have prescription painkillers to take care of it.

She got diagnosed with the syndrome after telling her doctor about her strange menstrual cycles. Sometimes, she would have a very heavy flow that lasted a couple of weeks, and she once went three months without even having a period.

Also, she had started to have acne, even though she was in her late twenties. She seemed to be growing more facial hair than is normal for a woman, too.

He put her on low-dose birth control pills to regulate her hormones, and this helped her have regular light periods. It also reduced her acne and facial hair, but she still has pain in her right side from time to time.

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