Abdominal pain accompanied by shoulder pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

So what are the causes of abdominal pain accompanied by shoulder pain? They are probably more numerous than you think!


This is gallbladder inflammation.

The gallbladder is an organ located beneath the liver. Its main function is to store and concentrate bile. Approximately twenty million Americans have gallstones. Risk factors for gallstones include liver disease, female gender, obesity, a family history of gallstones, multiple pregnancies, rapid weight loss, and biliary tract narrowing.

The typical pain from gallstones is a right upper quadrant discomfort that usually lasts from a few minutes to hours. Pain is usually severe and recurrent. The pain often radiates to the shoulder or back, and is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Diagnosis of gallstones is made by abdominal ultrasound study. People with symptomatic gallstones require surgical removal of the entire gallbladder. So... the cardinal symptoms are constant pain in right upper quadrant, onset often after meals; nausea and vomiting, and tenderness in the right upper quadrant and right shoulder.

Ectopic pregnancy
In women, abdominal discomfort may indicate a problem with the reproductive system. Pelvic pain that occurs each month just before a woman’s period suggests endometriosis. Tenderness in the lower abdomen may indicate pelvic inflammatory disease. For women of childbearing age, an ectopic pregnancy can produce a sudden sharp, stabbing abdominal pain along with vaginal bleeding, a history of missed or light periods, or pain radiating to the shoulder. Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids are also causes of abdominal pain in women.

Heart attack
Although the one of the classic signs of a heart attack in males is pain in the shoulders, females frequently report pain between the shoulder blades instead.


Another rare cause of abdominal pain and shoulder pain was published in a paper describing a 16 year old boy who presented with severe right shoulder pain. The pain was due to a large amount of fluid in the pleural space that developed as a result of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Massive right-sided hemorrhagic pleural effusion due to pancreatitis; a case report
Mohammad Reza Namazi and Ashkan Mowla
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2004, 4:1 doi:10.1186/1471-2466-4-1


Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue. The disease is fairly common, affecting approximately 2-3 percent of the US population.

Although its symptoms are similar to other joint diseases, fibromyalgia is actually a form of soft tissue arthritis and causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues. This condition may be associated with irritable bowel symptoms, irritable bladder symptoms, headaches, dizzyness, as well as widespread musculoskeletal symptoms including shoulder pain.

Now we move onto more serious causes...

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer comes in two types:

Primary cancer means that the cancer started in the liver.

Secondary cancer of the liver (metastatic disease)occurs when a cancer starts someplace else and spreads to the liver.

These are signs of liver cancer:

- A hard lump in the abdomen below the rib cage on the right side.
- Discomfort in the upper abdomen on the right side.
- Pain around the right shoulder blade, or pain between the shoulder blades.
- Yellowish skin color (jaundice)
- A feeling of abdominal fullness

Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is the food tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

Esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms until the cancer has advanced to a late stage. The main symptom is difficulty in swallowing food. There is frequently a sensation of food getting stuck in the throat or chest.

Signs of advanced esophageal cancer include:

- Pain with swallowing.
- Pain in the throat or back, behind the sternum (breastbone) or pain between the shoulder blades.
- Appetite loss as well as weight loss.
- Hiccups with the feeling of food getting stuck in the throat or chest.
- Vomiting and coughing up of blood.

Get more information about abdominal pain accompanied by shoulder pain and related conditions as well as...

• Insider arthritis tips that help you erase the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis almost overnight!

• Devastating ammunition against low back pain... discover 9 secrets!

• Ignored remedies that eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms quickly!

• Obsolete treatments for knee osteoarthritis that still are used... and may still work for you!

• The stiff penalties you face if you ignore this type of hip pain...

• 7 easy-to-implement neck pain remedies that work like a charm!

• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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