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Gallbladder Pain – Location, Symptoms, Relief and Treatment
Gallbladder pain comes about due to the obstruction of the tubes that lead from the bladder to the liver, and out into the intestines. This obstruction is caused by gallstones which grow in size and block the tubes. The pain may ebb but it is always present. Some people call this condition biliary colic, but the term is not applicable in this context. Colicky pain comes and goes completely. Gallbladder pain is constant and will increase and decrease in waves over time. The pain can also sustain a few minutes, or it can last for hours. Gallstones form in the bladder, and this causes pain as the tubes become inflamed. The presence of gallstones can also lead to cholecystitis, another condition that can cause gallbladder pain.
What are the causes of gallbladder pain?
Cholecystitis is a condition which refers to the inflammation of the gallbladder. Although this can occur for other reasons, the condition can be caused by the presence of gallstones. Gallstones are usually expelled safely in the body, but some of these grow up to several centimeters in size, and cause blockage of the tubes. When the tubes, which include the hepatic duct, bile duct and the cystic duct get blocked, the bile cannot flow through. This causes it to back up into the gallbladder, thereby causing distension. This is what causes the pain. Gallstones are formed from cholesterol and some pigments that are found in the bile.
Gallbladder Pain Location
You may feel the pain in the middle of the stomach or at the top right part of your belly. You might experience that the pain moves to the upper back at your right or in the area of the shoulder blade. The pain is either constant or intermittent. It may get worse during or after eating. You should call your doctor if you experience intense or sporadic pain in the pit of the stomach or in the chest.
What are the symptoms of gallbladder pain?
The most common factor is the pain. Gallbladder pain location is in the flank and may radiate outward. This type of pain causes the patient to experience nausea, which may also be accompanied by vomiting. The patient may also begin sweating profusely, a symptom that comes due to the shock of the pain. Other symptoms caused by the pain include having short breath, having light-headedness, belching and feeling bloated in the abdomen and having abnormal bowel movements. Gall bladder pain can be caused by the inflammation of the ducts caused by other infections. It is very rare for progressive growths to cause the blocking of the ducts. The slow progress must be accompanied by sudden obstruction. This means that cancer cells will not cause gallbladder pain. However, if the growth blocks a stone, then this would cause the patient to exhibit these symptoms.
What is the treatment for gallbladder pain?
If you happen to be at an advanced age, and silent gallstones are discovered, the doctor will advise that you leave them alone, since there is little chance that they will lead to any serious complications. Patients who have heart disease are not treated either. However, any patient who is healthy and has silent gallstones, they should have them removed so as to reduce the chances of getting this condition in the future. Here are some of the treatments that are commonly used:
- Cholecystectomy – This is the process of removing the gallbladder. The surgery is not complicated, and the surgeon may opt to make a small incision in the abdomen, or laparoscopy. The laparoscopic method causes less trauma to the body and encourages faster recovery. The removal of the gall bladder will have minimal effect on the diet, and very few develop chronic diarrhea. There is a low rate of complications with the procedure, though leakage of bile can occur.
- Sphincterectomy – At times, it may not be necessary to remove the gallbladder. The solution may lie in removing the gallstone by accessing the ducts. This means cutting open the sphincter that joins the bile duct to the duodenum, and then removing the gallstone. The bile will now flow well into the duodenum. However, sphincterectomy may also be performed even if the gallbladder is removed so that bile flows easier from the liver into the duodenum.
- Oral dissolution – It is possible to get the gallstones to dissolve using oral medication. The gallstones, largely made of cholesterol, are dissolved using medication that is high in bile acid. The acid is used by the liver to naturally dissolve cholesterol. Taking it orally can dissolve the gallstones. This kind of therapy is only used in mild cases of gallstone blockage, or on those who cannot undertake surgery, due to other health complications. It is also used for people who have small stones, less than 1.5cm in diameter that may have formed due to rapid weight loss, etc. This method may take a year or two to dissolve the gallstones, and usually the stone form back again after the treatment is stopped.
- Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – This is a method that is rarely used for treating gallstones that are in the bile ducts. The ESWL generates shock waves externally, and these are concentrated on the gallstones, thereby breaking them down into smaller size. The gallstones will then, drain naturally out of the bile duct.