Left Upper Quadrant (LUQ) Pain: Common Causes & Treatments

Abdominal pain occurs in the area between your chest and your pelvis, and is something that everyone has experienced. It can be as simple as a little tummy ache to more severe medical conditions depending on how much pain there is and how persistent it is. Your abdominal pain can be acute and short lived. However, there are many cases in which abdominal pain is chronic, lasting for days, weeks or even months. Hopefully, if you are experiencing chronic abdominal pain you will not wait months before seeking medical help.

Pain in the upper left side of your abdomen, often referred to as upper left quadrant pain, is usually indicative of something wrong with the organs and/or tissue structures located on that area of the torso. Part of your bowel, your spleen, the end part of the pancreas, part of the stomach, the left part of your liver, the left side of your kidneys, a portion of your ureter, the left adrenal gland, part of your left lung, the lower portion of your left ribs, the aorta, many muscles and skin are all located in this upper left quadrant of your abdomen. Your heart is also situated just above this area. Any issue or condition in any of these organs, bones, tissues or muscles will directly cause pain in this area, which will be discussed in detail below. 

Most Common Causes of Upper Left Abdominal Pain

Since so much of your abdominal organs and muscles are found in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, there are many conditions and injuries that can cause abdominal pain to be experienced there. Here you will find information on the most common causes found.

Medical Causes of Upper Left Abdominal Pain

Left upper quadrant or LUQ pain can originate from various causes. Some causes for these pains may not be localized accurately, so bear in mind that the area that hurts may not be directly in line with the internal issue that is causing pain. Below is a list of common medical causes for LUQ pain.

  1. Thoracic Causes - Characterized by cardiac and/or respiratory pains.
  2. Abdominal Causes - An aortic rupture, spleen malfunction or abnormality, gastric ulcers, kidney disease, colon pain, pancreatic discrepancies, and issues in the diaphragm or peritoneum, like abscesses or peptic ulcers.
  3. Chest and Abdominal Wall - Localized muscular and skeletal pain, sometimes due to chronic diseases, you will experience spinal pain from illnesses such as shingles.
  4. Other Medical Causes- These include, but are not solely limited to, diabetic ketoacidosis, septicaemia, hypercalcaemia, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, hereditary angio-oedema, and porphyria.

Any of the above mentioned issues and causes requires medical attention and treatment. Medical professionals will assess your symptoms and most likely run a few tests and scans for further diagnosis and to figure out a course of treatment. Bear in mind the issues listed above are NOT likely to be self treatable.

Diagnosis and Treatments for Upper Left Abdominal Pain

Physical exams, x-rays or CT scans are the most effective methods to diagnose the cause of your abdominal pain. Blood and urine tests may also be done for diagnosis purposes.

Your treatments will depend primarily on the cause for your abdominal pain. Most of the time dehydration will occur, so doctors will want to control that first either through electrolytic fluids drinken orally or from a fluid drip. Antibiotics are helpful in treating most of the diseases listed above and diuretics are used to treat kidney problems.

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