How To Sharp Pain Left Side Under Ribs Comes And Goes?


Pain always signifies that there is something wrong with your body. In particular, I want to talk about a sharp pain left side under ribs comes and goes.

The reason could be physiologic – it’s temporary and you’re not sick; or it could also be frightening – you’re sick and inching closer to death’s bed. Based on research, I have come up with the top 3 reasons that could be fatal to your health.

Go over them and identify the symptoms of your own pain, so you can get treatment as early as possible. Early treatment means a better prognosis for recuperation.

3 Reasons Why Sharp Pain Left Side Under Ribs Comes and Goes

Reason #1 - Cracked Ribs (Bruised Ribs) or Damaged Cartilage

Small cracks in the left ribs and injury to the cartilage can be one of the reasons for that sharp pain on your left side.

The pain of cracked bones can be manageable with analgesics, and it can heal eventually with proper management; likewise with injury to the cartilage.

Nonetheless, if these injuries worsen due to mismanagement, the crack can lead to a fracture; and the minor injury can lead to a serious one. That would be frightening.

The pain of a fractured bone is more severe than the pain caused by a cracked bone. Fractured bones can pierce internal organs and death could occur swiftly.

So, if you experience that sharp pain on the left side under your ribs, get your X-ray taken to determine if there are any bone or cartilage injuries. If there are none, then that’s good. If the injuries have worsened, then head for the ER.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Treatment and management:

For slightly cracked bones, they usually heal by themselves. For severely cracked bones, a splint or support material may be needed to keep the bone intact and prevent further injury.

For fractured bones, the person may need hospitalization and surgery.

Reason #2 – Lung Disorders

The lungs are right under the rib cage. The left lung is under the left ribs. Understandably, when the lungs are injured or ill, there would be pain that is felt under the ribs.

Out of the lung diseases, pleuritis is specifically identified as causing a sharp pain left side under the ribs comes and goes.

The pain ranges from a sharp pain felt under the left side of the ribs, to sharp stabbing pains, strangling pains, heavy pains or just a dull ache.

Some of these lung diseases that you can consider are:

  • Lung cancer - this type of cancer is common among smokers.
  • Lung infarction - death of an area of the lungs due to insufficient blood supply.
  • Tuberculosis - a disorder caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).
  • Pleural effusion - excess fluids accumulate in the areas around the lungs.
  • Pneumothorax - caused by a collapsed lung, which may be due to trauma and other reasons.
  • Pleuritis (pleurisy) - inflammation of the lungs’ tissues. It can cause a sharp pain during respiration.
  • Pneumonia - is an inflammation of the tissues of the lungs. The most common cause is bacterial infection.
  • Mesothelioma - is a rare type of cancer of the thin lining of the lungs and other organs caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - the lungs are dysfunctional due to a variety of reasons.

The best way to determine if you have any of these lung diseases is to consult a doctor and submit yourself to diagnostic and laboratory tests.

Treatment and management:

The treatment of the lung disease is individualized and your doctor will evaluate and monitor your condition. You can read the full information about this topic through the links provided above.

Reason #3 - Acute Myocardial Infection or AMI (Heart Attack)

The heart is slightly located towards the left chest, so it is located below the left ribs. In fact one of the symptoms of a heart attack is a crushing chest pain, which is centrally located. But there are times that patients describe it as a left chest pain.

Albeit the pain is ‘crushing’, some people described it as an intermittent sharp pain under the left ribs. To ensure your safety, you must ascertain that the pain doesn’t come from a heart ailment by performing diagnostic tests and laboratory tests, such as:

  • MRI and CT scan
  • Cardiac Profile Tests (CK, AST, LDH, myoglobin and troponin tests)

The MRI and CT scan will show if there are any abnormalities in the heart through images, while elevated values in the Cardiac Profile Tests will confirm the diagnosis of heart attack.

You should be aware though that heart attack is different from cardiac arrest and stroke. Read below:

Treatment and management:

If the doctor’s diagnosis is MI, the doctor will most probably recommend confinement. Treatment with oral and intravenous (through veins) medications will be done.

  • Nitroglycerinis administered for angina pectoris (heart pain), and to widen blood vessels so that blood can flow freely.
  • Pain relievers, such as analgesics can be given, whenever necessary.
  • Antihypertensive drugs, such as Beta blockers and Ace inhibitors can be administered for hypertension and for cardiac muscle relaxation.
  • Anti-platelet drug, such as Clopidogrel can be administered to prevent clot formation and clot growth.
  • Thrombolyticsare used to eliminate blood clots.
  • Surgery, such as coronary artery bypass,can be the last resort when medications didn’t work effectively.

MI can lead to death. Hopefully, you won’t get to experience that frightening part of the scenario.


If you’re experiencing a sharp pain on your left side under the ribs that comes and goes, consult your doctor immediately. When it’s not pathological, it would go away after one to two days.

So, if the pain stays – go for a check-up. Follow the information provided here to help you decide wisely.

Did you have the same experience? You may want to share it with our readers in the comment section below.

We will be glad to accommodate your thoughts!


Hello everyone! I’m glad to have you here. I’m a medical technologist by profession. My second love is writing. So, I’m focusing on providing content to help other people with their health problems. I hope I can be of help to you.

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