Tender Bulge on Left Side of Belly

Q: I get feeling heaviness around left side of abdomen, near the waist and on the back side. A slight bulging is also there on the left side of back around Iliac crest. I have been having this kind of feeling for last 6 months. Can any please tell me what could be the reason?
-By Sunit Sanghai


It would be difficult to comment on your symptoms without actually examining you. The reason for your symptoms could either be some mechanical cause (after some trauma) or some medical condition affecting your intestines.

Let’s discuss the probable reasons that can cause such a state.

Pain and Swelling on the Left Quadrant of the Abdomen

A Pulled Muscle

It could be a pulled muscle of the area. Sometimes a muscle may get overstretched or injured during some activity. This may tear or rupture a few muscle fibers.

In such cases, the patient may have pain in the area. This pain increases if any movement (twisting, lifting heavy objects) of that muscle group is carried out. A slight swelling is usually present.

Abdominal Abscess

An abscess is a collection of pus and fluid secondary to some injury or infection. It can occur anywhere in the body.

It may be there near the stomach area, secondary to some infection (like TB, intestinal infection, etc.). Presentation is that of a swelling with pain on touching it. Usually the patient has some fever. Chills and some weakness may be there.


Are you constipated? This is a condition where a person has infrequent and hard, dry stools. This may also cause some abdominal distension with pain.

The cause of constipation needs to be treated in such cases. Having more of fibrous food with lots of fluid usually helps.

Crohn’s Disease

It is a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the intestines. The person has abdominal pain with diarrhea. Other symptoms include not feeling like having food, fever, and weakness. Weight loss may be there.

Sometimes the patient may also note some eye pain, joint pains, or a rash.

Treatment comprises of some anti-inflammatory medications with a special diet (mild spices, include curd, less of tea and coffee).

Blocked Intestines

Intestines may be partially blocked, not allowing food or stools to pass freely. This may be caused by impacted stools, fibrosis in intestine after some infection or after some surgical procedure.

Here, abdominal pain with swelling is present. Nausea and fever may also be there.

Incisional Hernia

Have you had any surgery in that area recently?

A piece of intestine may protrude through a weak opening in the abdominal wall to give a swelling with pain.

You need to get evaluated by some gastroenterologist to reach the exact diagnosis. He may require you do get some investigations done.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Pain and Swelling on Left Side of the Abdomen

  1. Leanne

    I got kicked on the side of my stomach yesterday afternoon which hurt and winded me. Since then I have pain on the same side which is dull, constant and sharp.

    I don’t know when to go to the doctors. The pain is in my back too. It feels like it’s gradually getting worse.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Injury of this sort can be quite dangerous. If your abdominal musculature is not very good, you may even hurt your internal organs. On the right side you have your liver, gall bladder, intestines, and lower down are all reproductive organs.

      It would be good to visit a doctor and get yourself examined. May be it’s just your abdominal musculature that has got hurt. In reaction, all muscles of front and back are in spasm at the moment.

      Such a condition is very painful and takes time to get alright. You may require muscle relaxants and some pain medication too.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Since the swelling is after heavy activities, it’s likely to be some injury or a pulled muscle. You need to go to a doctor for check up. This is required for an exact diagnosis.

      The first aid in all cases of such injuries is RICE, that is, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

      Take rest. Avoid using the swollen part of your body for a few days. Avoid lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, bending and other movements that are likely to give you pain.

      You may apply ice packs over the swelling to reduce it. Ice contracts the blood vessels so that further swelling does not build up. An elasticized bandage or a compression sleeve may be tied around, if required.

      Any over the counter pain medication may be taken for pain. Muscle relaxant ointments may be put over the swelling.

      Try gently stretching. This may sometimes heal muscle strains.

    2. Hauray tungnung

      I could sometimes feel a swell in my left abdomen that stretch up from my lowest rib(left) to my lions and when it happens my urine is yellowish in colors

  2. Southern Belle

    I have had a pressure feeling on the left side of my abdomen. I have had pain directly behind it on my left back at times. Sometimes my ribs are tender. This pressure/pain comes and goes.

    Could this be related to my ovary on that side? Do you think it is colon related or something else?

    I did notice a slight swelling below rib today. The pressure is uncomfortable and worries me. Any thoughts?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You need to get investigated to reach any conclusion. There could be many reasons giving such a swelling and pain. To list a few:

    2. It may be a pulled muscle.
    3. An inflamed liver due to hepatitis etc. The liver is behind the ribs.
    4. Your intestines, any irritable or infective condition.
    5. Just excess gas in the abdomen.
    6. Or your ovary.
    7. Ovaries usually do not give such a pain, so it may be the last to be considered.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Yes, it may be your spleen. Spleen enlargements are secondary to some infection, liver problems or blood disorders.

      You need to get evaluated to rule it out. Do you have any other symptoms?

  3. Gav

    I’ve got swelling on left side of my belly, just down from the belly button. It has pushed my belly button off center.

    It is painful. This has been going on for a long time. Lately I also have aches in arms and shoulders. If I do any physical work my arms and elbow joints ache and I have to stop all the time.

    I also feel I’m losing weight all round my joints. I had been to doctors numerous times over the years and they just give pain killers. A doctor booked in for scan on stomach as she thinks it could be hernia, but any ideas on all the aches in arms.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Abdominal scanning would be a good step to start investigating. It is necessary to know what is giving you that swelling. It may be your intestines, hernia or some inflammatory process in them.

      Once the diagnosis is established, your other symptoms can be correlated with it.

  4. Sidney

    My mom has swelling on her left side of stomach (starts under her breast and come down to her belly button ). It has been 2 months now. She has pain when bending pick some thing up, sleep on the left side, her stool some time come irregular, on a empty stomach she feels irritated like feel a uncomfortable heartbeat. Did an ultrasound and normal, hepatitis is non reactive but her ALT,AST, GLOBULIN IS HIGH.
    Thank you for your time and suggestions.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Since the ultrasound is normal, it doesn’t appear to be a visceral problem.

      May be something related to the abdominal wall. Possibly a musculoskeletal problem. Ask her to take rest and observe the precautions given below:

    2. Not strain herself at work. Avoiding bending movements for some time.
    3. Avoid lifting heavy weight while doing household work.
    4. Apply any muscle relaxant over the affected area on a daily basis. If required, she may take any oral muscle relaxant tablet (like Flexeril).
    5. Things should improve on their own. If you see no improvement in a week or two, surgical evaluation is suggested.

  5. Peggy11

    I have had some swelling on the left lower side of my stomach for little over a month now. I have noticed that in the last week it has gotten bigger and is hanging down. I am 43 yrs old. Also, in this last week I have been urinating a lot more and also have missed my period. My main concern is that the swelling is only on the left lower side of the stomach. There is no pain. I do have lost of appetite.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Appears to be a localized problem. Read above about various causes leading to abdominal swelling.

      It may be a hernia.

      Hernia is a condition where a small part of the viscera (intestines) protrude out of the abdominal cavity through a weakening in the abdominal muscle wall.

      To reach a diagnosis you need to get investigated. Discuss with your doctor and go for an abdominal ultrasound.

      1. carole sorgen

        About two months ago, I tore my muscle on the upper left part of my buttocks playing tennis. The pain was so excruciating that I ended up in the hospital. A few days after that incident a bulge developed on the left side of my abdomen. I feel gassy and uncomfortable all the time. My internist thought I developed a hernia. A CAT scan revealed no hernia. A surgeon confirmed that there was no hernia after doing a sonogram. After many hours of PT to tighten the muscles, there were no better results. Because of the gassy feeling and bloating and distention, I went to a gastro Dr. He felt my abs. and told me that I definitely had a hernia just by feeling my stomach. Said I did not need surgery. I called my surgeon and had the info. faxed to him and he said…”no….I still believe it’s stretched muscle….” now what?

        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          It’s likely that there is something wrong with the gut, since you are having gut problems.

          May be there is a weak point in the muscles of the abdominal wall, due to stretching. Through the weak area, a part of the gut may be distending (partial hernia).

          Are you under some treatment right now?

  6. Charles

    I have swelling on left side between bottom of ribs and top of hip. I cracked 2 ribs 6 weeks ago in car wreck. Could the swelling be from the cracked ribs or something else? Just noticed the swelling but it has been hurting for a couple of days.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You need to go for a physical exam and further investigations.

      It’s likely to be due to the accident you had, may be some swollen viscera or a muscular swelling. U/S may be required.

  7. lorraine

    Left side corner underneath ribs having minor pain on and off for about 1-2 years now. It varies in its pain. Sometimes just noticeable to maybe a 6 or 7 out of 10 just wondering on some ideas. Thank you. No medical insurance to go in.

      1. Anonymous

        I am pretty healthy 44 male.I work consturction and train horse’s to make extra money.So im always doing somthing physical.
        About 4 days ago.At I felt like i had to go .Got real bad pains .I have been in bed .Hungry but it hurts to eat.There is swelling on my left side.And iv barely gone#2.Iwas doing a lot of heavy lifting at work right before this.
        Christopher Hernandez

        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          This is likely to be a bad muscle pull on the left side.

          Are you able to make movements like getting up from bed, bending, climbing stairs etc. Are they painful?

          Avoid lifting weight, climbing stairs and all other movements that give you pain. You need to relieve constipation, if any. For this, consider taking natural fibers (isabgol) or mineral oil in milk at night.

  8. Maria

    I am 33 yrs and have had lower left pelvic pain intermittently for past 6/7 Months. After having an internal consultant referred me for an ultrasound. I was told this showed a heterogeneous solid mass measuring approx. 5cms. I have been scheduled to have this removed in a few weeks. The consultant doesn’t seem worried about it and has said he believes I may be experiencing diverticulosis. I have had the results of blood tests back and all was clear, this included the CA 125. Since the appointment 3 weeks ago I have had more symptoms. These symptoms come and go during the course of the day : lower left back pain, pressure in lower stomach, pressure in bum and constipation (on and off). For the past week I have been experiencing pain just before and immediately after urinating. The pain in my pelvis is there most of the day, whereas it was only there intermittently before.
    Do you think it possible all of these symptoms are related or not?
    Do you think diverticulosis could be the reason?
    I am quite worried this cyst may not be benign.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      The picture sounds like that of diverticulosis. All the symptoms indicate towards it. Also, your doctor may have visualized it on ultrasound.

      All the symptoms are related. The condition is characterized by the development of small protruding pouches from the walls of the large bowels. They arise when the muscular walls show some weakness or when the diet lacks fibers for a long time. There are many other reasons that contribute towards it.

      The condition is managed by altering dietary habits, including more of fibers. In case where it cannot be managed by diet only and there are chances of recurrent bowel infections, surgical excision is done.

  9. rohan

    I have rectal prolapse constipation etc .when i go to bathroom i spent there 30 minutes.still i dont fresh fill and my stomach is stretching in erside

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Avoid being constipated. Even a single instance is harmful.

      Add more fiber to your diet. You may use some fiber supplement like metamucil, citrucel etc. Drink plenty of water. This will prevent constipation. It is essential to ensure that you don’t strain during passing stools.

      You may also use some stool softener, like caster oil. These are readily available in the market. Keep yourself physically fit. A brisk walk for 20–30 minutes a day can help stimulate bowel motility.

    1. Dana

      My left abdominal is swollen, it been like this for a year, no pain it just sometimes feels uncomfortable, when I eat or drink water it gets even bigger with little change on my right side. It goes from my chest all the way to my belly bottom the entire area is big compared to the right side, and is very noticeable
      P. S. I used to take gas medication around a 1.5 yrs ago, as I was suffering from gas.

  10. sparky w.

    have swelling on left-side, about where ribs end down to the top of hipbone.
    pushes stomach off center to right side,and has no pain, but there is tightness
    all the way around waist and I am quite thin.seems to have grown fast since noticing
    a couple weeks ago.this tightness feels like having tied a strap or belt around waist
    uncomfortably tight. no problems with eating or eliminations.
    for about a year I have had very server pain that comes and goes in my right hip and right knee with lower back being numb in the skin,and spraying a stream from shower
    with its head removed at that numb area is very releving on those joints even though
    I am spraying my back.
    now I have a notion all this stuff is related…..any ideas?…
    than you…..Sparky.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Unlikely to be related. You need to go for an ultrasound abdomen to reach a diagnosis.

  11. ravi

    Got an ultrasound for abdomen due to slight bulge in the left flank, the report was normal but some times I get a pins and needles pain at the back of that organ(8-10seconds) which is there on the right side too but left one is a bit more bulged than right one as I can feel the organs on both sides but the left one is a bit more bulged and is just below the rib cage. In the corner, what could it be, the right one can be felt at same location below rib can but can’t be felt as the left one is it the normal shape of my body?

  12. Christopher

    Okay, I went the ER and they said I was constipated, but I still have swelling and tenderness and bloating. Taking lactulose still having problems. What should I do?

  13. Manny

    Hi doctor.
    I have left side pain for the last year. My left side area feels swollen but the pain is not very painful. When i put pressure in a spot on my left side, the pain intensifies. The spot maybe a muscle area, and is also the area my gf poked me in. I have no other symptoms and often wondered if my gfs poking with her finger to my left side caused it. I went to my doctor 4 times within the last year. She said nothing serious, might be muskoskelton or ibs. I had blood work, urine and colononsopy done. Please help.

  14. ella

    Im 28 years old, female. I have endometriosis however, Im not on my period but i am having pain lower left side with a sausage shape mass. Ive been constipated for a few days. Is this diver disease of some sort? My dr brushes it off as constipation.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Requires an ultrasound for diagnosis.

      Does the swelling get better after you go to the toilet? Anyway, relieve your constipation. Add more fiber to your diet. You may use some fiber supplement like metamucil, citrucel etc. Drink plenty of water. You may also use some stool softener, like caster oil. These are readily available in the market. A brisk walk for 20–30 minutes a day can help stimulate bowel motility.

  15. Lynn

    For five or more years I have complained of pain in lower left quadrant of abdomin with stabbing pains from pubic area to top of hip bone. GP, genocologist, pain mgmt Doctor and nurse practitioners all said it is referred pain from my back where there is herniated disc and arthritis. Spinal cord stimulator implanted 2013. It was suppose to fix everything.
    Last week my son asked to look at painful area while I was standing, he looked, he touched then told me I would need to see a doctor the next day because I had a hernia. My GP looked and touched and agreed it is a hernia about the size of a small baby’s head. I have been referred to a surgeon to see if I need surgery.
    I purchased two trusses via Amazon. In order to make one work I took padding from one to add to the other trying to cover the bulge.
    What type of hernia could this be?
    It disappears when I lie flat and pops up when I raise my head.
    Could this be anything else?
    Would I have the option of refusing mesh and glue? Open surgery with longer healing time is not a problem since I am retired. I don’t want to make the consulting surgeon angry.
    I stopped daily stretching and ab strengthening exercises. Should I stop walking my one-half mile too? It does cause stinging near the lump. But the deep throbbing and stabs don’t get worse.
    I am 5’3″, 125 lbs. age 73. I maintain a home for myself and one grandchild who is in college.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Difficult to comment without actual examination!

      Let us know the exact location of the hernia. Any disturbance in bowel movements?

  16. Anonymous

    I have pain and feeling of fullness in my left side and my left back. Been this way for 6 months to a year. Went to dr. Took x-rays. Diagnosis was blockage. Took miralax, worked. But I am still having pain on left side with some swelling in the area. Any suggestions?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Blockage may take time to get resolved. You need to be observant. Things should improve with time.

  17. Ali Murtaza

    I have swelling on the left side of lumbar. Just below the ribs. It’s like a ball that is visible from the side and partially visible from the front. It’s totally painless, not hard, not reddish. What are the possibilities for this swelling? I’ve had it for more than 2,3 months now. I’m a healthy young man, 20 years old, 62kg. I gained 12kgs in 3 months but that was intentional, is it due to this that i have a partially swollen left side? Or is it something serious?

    I’ll be waiting for a response, thanks in advance!

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      May be a small hernia or buldged abdominal wall due to recent weight gain. Needs to be examined for diagnosis.

  18. sarah

    I have abdominal pain on my left side it started when I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst that lasted 7 months but then went away on its own. I have had abdominal and pelvic scans after and during the cyst but the doctors did not find anything and the kidneys and other organs were all normal.
    What can be causing the pain? I dont need to take any pain medication as it is not severe but its just that I can feel the pain sometimes so I’m worried (one doctor suggested it could be due to the cyst as it was large and it was pressing against other organs and nerves so it takes time to feel normal again but no one else mentioned this to me).

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      When was the last scan done. Did it show any cyst or any other problem?

      When do you get the pain, like on exertion, lifting weight, any relation with menses, after food etc.?

  19. sarah

    The pain is at its worst after heavy lifting or strenuous activities or if I stand for too long (sometimes I do feel bloated too and it does feel like there is pressure on the bladder and that I need to empty it soon).

  20. sarah

    The last scan was on the 23rd January and I saw the consultant in February but it showed that the cyst had completely gone and there was no sign of it left (the pain first started with the cyst). Also the abdominal scan showed that the kidneys and everything else was ok too so no problem there.
    The pain does become more obvious after eating and drinking, lifting very heavy things or working too much (sometimes after exercising too much as well) but it is not related to menses could it possibly be IBS?.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You may be having some mass in your pelvic area that’s pushing nearby organs and giving symptoms. However, your pelvic scan appears clean.

      This makes it difficult to comment further without examination.

  21. sarah

    On my left abdomen I get this weird feeling of fullness/discomfort after eating and depending on what I eat my stomach does tend to make weird sounds too (but only the left side) I find that peppermint oil capsules help a lot.
    It doesn’t hurt and there is no swelling but it is a weird feeling that I cant describe properly.
    I have had abdominal and kidney ultrasounds but they have come back clear.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Left side lies your stomach, left colon. Since you feel it just after eating, this is likely to be your stomach saying something.

      Any burps, constipation, diarrhea etc.?

  22. Sarah

    no none of the above symptoms but I do get bloating sometimes and it feels like something is travelling down the intestines. depending on what I have and when I have it the sounds can last for hours afterwards but not constant ( if I dont take peppermint oil capsules before) and it even happens if I drink something plain like water. I was thinking it might be some sort of autoimmune disease such as ibs/ibd ulcerative colitis etc but then again I dont really have symptoms associated with those conditions and the discomfort is only on the left side in a specific area, I have no symptoms anywhere else.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Unlikely to be allergy.

      Symptoms sound like those of inflamed left sided intestines.

      The problem is likely to be due to the cyst you had. The big sized cyst must have put pressure over adjoining organs, pressing over nerves and vessels. Furthermore, in some cases, the cyst may be inflamed and spread an inflammatory reaction affecting the adjoining areas too. Fibrosis may set in , further aggravating the condition.

      All this is just a possibility to explain your condition. Diagnosing is just not possible without actually seeing you.

  23. Paulo

    Have since 1 year mild pain and swelling in upper left abdomen and also behind the lower part of left ribs. Swelling increased over months. Also sometimes constipation, burping, bad breath and even nausea at times. Also fatty stools sometimes. Had regular fasciculations in the area too. Ultrasound is clear, x ray clear, abdominal mri also clear. Blood tests clear. Seen 3 gastros, one said probably just IBS, other two probably nothing serious but referred to colonoscopy, which I await. On palpation one said swelling is air either stomach, lungs or colon.

    Despite clear tests, my guess is between stomach, pancreas or left colon.


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