Suffering gallbladder pain? Know the 5 likely reasons behind it

If you are suffering from any discomfort or pain in the gallbladder, there could be several reasons. Find out the reasons and treatments.
gallbladder pain
Find out why does your gladder pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Mayank Madan Published: 25 Feb 2022, 12:00 pm IST
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We’ve all heard of gallbladder stones, but those are not the only reasons for excruciating gallbladder pain. The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ in the right upper abdomen, below the right lobe of the liver. It is responsible for storing excess bile produced by the liver. The bile produced by the liver helps the body digest fats. The hormones stimulate the gall bladder to contract and release extra bile for digestion of the fatty meal. But in case you are suffering from any discomfort or pain in the gallbladder, there could be several reasons.

Symptoms of gallbladder issues

* Frequent pain:

Frequent pain in the right upper abdomen, which extends to the back and right shoulder region. This is usually precipitated as a result of fatty meals.

* Nausea or vomiting:

Pain may be associated with nausea and vomiting.

* Fever:

The patient may have fever due to inflammation of the gallbladder.

* Abnormality in stool:

Blockage in the bile duct can often result in pale-coloured stool

* Dark urine:

Blockage of the bile duct, due to slipping of stones from the gallbladder leads to passage of dark-coloured urine

Other common symptoms include jaundice, diarrhea, fatigue, and itching.

gallbladder problems
Gallbladder stones aren’t the only reason behind the pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are some of the causes of gallbladder pain?

The following problems can be the reason you are experiencing pain related to gallbladder disease.

1. Gallstones:

Any age group may be affected. The patient may have a single large stone causing pain or may have multiple stones at a time. It is possible to develop gallstones without any symptoms or pain.

A large stone in the gallbladder may obstruct the neck of the gallbladder, causing the gallbladder to be filled with mucus or pus if the obstruction persists, along with pain in the abdomen.

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Multiple stones have the tendency to slip into the bile duct, leading to obstruction causing jaundice, fever, and pain. It may obstruct the pancreatic duct causing acute pancreatitis.

2. Cholecystitis:

You might experience pain in the gallbladder due to inflammation caused by gallstones. Acute cholecystitis and acalculous cholecystitis are the two types of cholecystitis. The former occurs when a gallstone is stuck in the gallbladder causing pain, whereas acalculous cholecystitis is a bacterial infection in the bile duct.

3. Choledocholithiasis:

The presence of a gallstone in the bile duct is known as choledocholithiasis. Choledocholithiasis restricts the flow of bile, resulting in increased pressure and pain. You might experience jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes.

4. Biliary sludge:

Biliary sludge is the composition of cholesterol monohydrate crystals, calcium bilirubin, and other calcium salts in the gallbladder. The deposition of these substances can cause similar symptoms and complications like gallstones.

5. Functional gallbladder disease (FGD):

Also known as biliary dyskinesia or chronic acalculous gallbladder dysfunction, it affects the gallbladder and sphincter of Oddi. Patients with FGD often experience gallbladder pain but without any evidence of gallbladder stones. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, consult your doctor and get the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Also Read: Yes to low fat, no to caffeine: 5 tips to alter your diet after gallbladder removal

Experts may advise antibiotics. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment for pain due to gallbladder stones

Once the symptoms are diagnosed due to gallstones, your healthcare expert will suggest a treatment protocol:

* Avoid fatty meals
* Antibiotics and pain killers
* Other symptomatic treatments in the form of IV fluids, antacids, antiemetics

If the patient has gallbladder stones with pain in the upper abdomen and deranged liver function test values, the patient will be subjected to MRCP first to rule out common bile duct stones (CBD Stones). In the case of common bile duct stone, first, the patient is subjected to endoscopic removal of CBD stones followed by laparoscopic cholecystectomy (laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder).

If the patient has gallbladder stones with pain in the upper abdomen, with no evidence of CBD stone, the patient will be subjected to laparoscopic cholecystectomy (laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder).

When asymptomatic gallbladder stones are detected, the patient is usually advised surgical intervention electively to avoid any complications later like mucocele, pyocele, perforation of gallbladder, obstructive jaundice, and acute pancreatitis.

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About the Author

Dr Mayank Madan, Department of GI, Minimal Access and Bariatric Surgery, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram ...Read More

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