What Are the Causes of Spleen Pain?

Updated March 23, 2017

The spleen is located in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen, underneath the rib cage. It works as a drainage network to defend the body against infection. Occasionally, the spleen can become enlarged as a result of overuse or an underlying medical condition. This enlargement often results in spleen pain.


Spleen pain is felt in the upper left part of the abdomen; this pain often feels like a dull ache or unusual fullness. Occasionally, the spleen pain can extend to the back as well, causing a mild sensation of pain in the middle or upper back.


Spleen pain is commonly caused by a viral, parasitic or bacterial infection. Occasionally, cancer or a splenic tumour may also cause the spleen to become enlarged and painful. Any direct trauma or injury to the area of the spleen may also cause pain.


Although any person of any age can develop an enlarged spleen and spleen pain, children with infections and African Americans with Sickle Cell disease are at an especially high risk.


Although spleen pain itself is not dangerous, the enlargement of the spleen can cause serious medical complications. An enlarged spleen reduces the number of healthy red and white blood cells and platelets flowing through the body. Additionally, a ruptured spleen could cause significant bleeding into the abdominal cavity.


If the spleen pain is caused by an infection, antibiotics will typically be prescribed to fight the infection. Similarly, chemotherapy or radiation will be used to treat cancer of the spleen. In some serious cases, the spleen may need to be surgically removed to prevent further complications associated with the enlarged spleen.

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