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Spleen Pain - Location, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on December 14, 2013

Location of Spleen

Spleen Pain Location

Spleen pain can be perceived on the left side of the abdomen. The pain is generally perceived on the upper left side of the abdomen and somewhat felt near the back. The perception of pain on the upper left portion of the abdomen can also radiate towards the shoulder.

The spleen is part of the lymphatic system and plays a part in the immune system while it is responsible for filtering and removing abnormal cells. The spleen is involved in so many functions of the body that it has a great risk for diseases and disorders. The approximate weight of the spleen in normal healthy adults is 200g with a size almost the same as the clenched fist. It is particularly located on the left side of the body just behind the stomach parallel to the 9th and 11th ribs and its structure is similar to the lymph node. The spleen is regarded as the largest organ of the lymphatic organ and contains two types of tissue known as the white pulp and the red pulp. The white pulp is the lymphatic tissue made up of white blood cells while the red pulp tissue is composed of venous sinuses and the "splenic cords".

Numerous functions are being played by the spleen in the human body but humans can live without the spleen as many of its functions can be performed by other organs such as the liver and the bone marrow. The drawback in spleen removed from the body is the frequent episodes of infection one may suffer after it has been disengaged in the body.

Symptoms

Identifying spleen pain is rather difficult during the early onset. There are signs and symptoms however that can help in determining a spleen pain and isolate it from other condition that may have similar symptoms with spleen pain. Symptoms are usually rare in spleen pain and the manifestation will only occur when the spleen has enlarged enough to cause signs and symptoms.

The common signs and symptoms of spleen pain include the following:

  • Pain perception on the upper left portion of the abdomen.
  • The pain gets worse with every deep breathing.
  • Pain radiates towards the back and shoulder.
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Onset of high fever accompanied by spleen pain and may also be accompanied with chills.
  • Frequent episodes of infection which can make an affected individual experience recurrent sickness.
  • Occurrence of night sweats
  • Loss of appetite and inability to eat a full meal
  • Uneasiness or discomfort
  • General body weakness and feeling of tiredness and restlessness.

A symptom of low blood pressure and internal bleeding is a manifestation of ruptured spleen which requires an immediate medical attention as it is potentially life-threatening. Worsening abdominal pain with every deep breath also requires a prompt medical attention.

The normal healthy spleen is usually not palpable during physical examination. Spleen pain in enlarged or swollen state can be easily palpated and felt by the attending physician or the examining physician. The onset of spleen pain should not be disregarded once noticed. It is beneficial to seek medical advice to prevent further medical complications and irreversible damage of the spleen.

Causes

The involvement of spleen in various functions of the body made it potentially at risk for diseases and disorders. The soft and spongy characteristic of the spleen makes it potential for easy damage. A wide range of diseases and disorders can affect the spleen and its function while there are various causes of spleen pain such as:

Splenomegaly

This is the swelling of the spleen causing it to enlarge. The enlargement of the spleen will cause undue pain while it is potential for rupture when left untreated. It is necessary for an immediate medical intervention once the spleen ruptures as it is potentially life-threatening. The enlargement can affect the vital function of the spleen. As the spleen gets larger, it will both filter the normal red blood cells and damage the red blood cells as well.

Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a viral infection that can cause pain in the spleen. The infection is characterized by a swollen lymph node and onset of high fever. The level of mononuclear monocytes in the blood is marked with an elevation beyond the normal level.

Endocarditis

This is a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart or the endocardium. It is caused by a certain type of bacteria that infected other part of the body transmitted to the heart through the bloodstream contaminated with the bacteria.

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection from a single celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. The single celled parasite is transmitted through an infected cat.

Gaucher’s disease

Gaucher’s disease is a rare hereditary disease that is characterized by accumulation of fatty molecules called cerebrosides. This hereditary disease can affect multiple organs of the body including the spleen.

Felty syndrome

Felty syndrome is a syndrome that is composed of three syndromes such as the enlargement of the spleen, rheumatoid arthritis and a very low count of the white blood cell.

Some blood disorders can lead to the enlargement of the spleen which can give the spleen pain such as:

Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia Vera is a chronic blood disorder characterized by a rapid overproduction of the bone marrow of both the white and the red blood cells including the platelets.

Hemoglobinopathies

Hemoglobinopathies is another blood disorder that can cause spleen pain. It is a genetic disorder of the blood that is marked by an occurrence of abnormal hemoglobin.

Other causes of spleen pain include the following:

  • A direct blow or injury to the spleen from any forms of physical trauma and accident
  • Development of cyst or large pus adjacent the spleen
  • Pressure on the lymphatic vessels that resulted from the blockage or clots

Treatment

Spleen pain treatment is directed towards the cure of the underlying condition that is causing the pain. The mode of treatment depends on the underlying condition while the immediate action is pain relief to provide patient with comfort.

Both pharmacological and surgical treatment is beneficial to spleen pain. Medications to reduce the inflammation and enlargement of the spleen may be prescribed. Spleen pain resulting from infections can be managed with antibiotics. Surgical removal of the spleen is also another option for patient suffering from spleen pain although post operation requires regular and careful monitoring as spleen removal will result to a frequent infection.

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      Luisa Grassetto 3 years ago

      good info