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The Link Between Gallstones and Abdominal Pain

The Link Between Gallstones and Abdominal Pain

Gallstones aren’t always bad. In fact, plenty of people live with them and never even know it. When gallstones travel out of your gallbladder, though, they can cause severe abdominal pain. 

In fact, if you experience pain in the upper-right portion of your abdomen that comes on suddenly, a gallstone could be to blame. Fortunately, you can see our team of abdominal pain specialists at the SmartClinic Urgent Care locations in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California. Whether you make an appointment or walk in for care, we can treat your pain. 

Understanding the gallbladder and gallstones

So, what’s the link between gallstones and abdominal pain? It’s helpful to understand what gallstones are and how they form. It all starts with your gallbladder, an organ located near your liver that secretes bile into your small intestine. This enables your body to process any fat that you eat.

Gallstones can form inside your gallbladder. These hardened deposits usually develop from excess cholesterol. A lot of gallstones stay in the gallbladder, where they don’t cause any trouble. 

But if the gallstone moves, it can block the mouth of the gallbladder or your bile ducts. This causes bile to build up, leading to painful pressure in the abdominal area. 

When gallstones cause abdominal pain

You might think that larger gallstones cause more pain; however, smaller ones travel out of the gallbladder more frequently, making them the more likely candidate to cause blockages and abdominal issues.

You’ll usually experience this kind of abdominal pain after a large or rich meal. At this point, the gallbladder contracts in an attempt to push bile into your small intestine to aid with digestion. If a gallstone blocks that bile flow at any point, the resulting pressure can cause sudden, intense pain. That discomfort might last a few hours.

You feel this pain near your gallbladder, which means this kind of abdominal pain centers in the upper-right portion of your abdomen, right under your ribcage. It might also radiate to your right shoulder blade or arm. If you feel sudden pain in this area, you may very well have a blockage because of a gallstone. 

The sooner you seek medical care, the sooner you can find relief. In some cases, you’ll be able to pass the gallstone naturally or take medication to dissolve it. Usually, though, resolving the blockage requires surgery to remove the gallstone. A surgeon can also safely remove your gallbladder if you have recurring problems with gallstones.

To find out if a gallstone is behind your abdominal pain, call SmartClinic Urgent Care at 661-430-9040, book a visit online, or simply walk into either of our clinics today.

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