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Intense Back Pain or Shoulder Pain during Pregnancy Could be Gallbladder Problems

Updated on August 29, 2010

When you’re pregnant you’ve got enough going on, all sorts of changes going on both with your body and everyday life. There’s a lot of stress to continue everyday operations and those operations get harder and more labor intensive. Not to mention that you’re never sure if what you’re experiencing is normal or if you’ve got a problem. So it sucks when you get a sudden intense back pain and/or shoulder pain and you don’t know what’s causing it. During pregnancy, the gallbladder is more likely to act up and cause intense pain in several regions including the back, shoulder and abdomen. But how can you tell if it’s gallbladder pain?

The gallbladder is a small non-vital organ that stores bile that your liver produces. This bile is meant to aid in food breakdown. Sometimes calcified stones, aka gallstones, are created due to various reasons (which can include diet and cholesterol). The gallbladder can have numerous gallstones in it without any problems, however they can sometimes block the exit (the bile duct) and it’s then that you can experience intense back pain; so intense it can make you feel like you can’t breathe.

So how can you tell if your pregnancy back pain is due to your gallbladder?

While you’re pregnant, back pain is constant.  There are various levels of pregnancy related back pain and it’s hard to tell if the pain is related to your gallbladder.  There are a few signs to see if your gallbladder is causing your back or shoulder pain.  One sign that is a good indicator is that you’ll experience this pain after you eat.  When you eat your gallbladder gets signs to start releasing bile and if the bile duct is blocked it will cause the pain.  There are certain spicy foods that tend to trigger these pains.  If you get back or shoulder pain after eating Italian or Mexican food, it could be that the gallbladder caused it.  Usually if your pain is caused by food, whether the type of food you eat or what time of the day you eat (usually at night), you’ll learn to feel the pain coming.  If this is the case you’ll need to stop eating to stop the bile producing mechanism.  Another sign that you may have gallstones is that you experience intense burning pain when you lie down.  This is because the stones will shift when you lie down and this creates the potential to clog up the bile duct and start the pain mechanism.  This type of pain can sometimes be confused with heart burn but if you sit up or walk around and the pain isn’t just in your esophagus it’s probably due to your gallbladder.  This situation usually occurs when you lie down on your side, which is difficult because when you’re pregnant you’re supposed to lie on your side.

If this sounds like what you’re experiencing there are a number of solution to gallbladder pain.  There are many resources online that can help you get rid of gallstones naturally.  However, not all problems can be fixed this way and you may need to have your gallbladder removed (it’s okay) either during or preferably after pregnancy.  You may want to look around online at other gallstone treatment options.  If this pain continues make sure to see a doctor.  Doing a little bit of research before going to the doctors can make a big difference in treating gallbladder problems when you’re pregnant.


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      I second that comment. Very useful hub. Thanks.

    • LSpel profile image

      Lydia McCarter 

      7 years ago from The Murder Mitten

      Thanks for the informative article. I read your previous one about gallbladder issues, and ended up coming across this one as well. Great job!


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