The spleen is an organ that lies just underneath the ribcage on the left side of the body. Its purpose is to help protect the body from infection by filtering the blood and literally "eating up" harmful germs and particles. A damaged spleen, or splenic rupture, is an extremely serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If not properly attended to, a ruptured spleen can cause excessive internal bleeding that can lead serious symptoms or death.
The location of the spleen makes it a prime target for injury. Car accidents are one of the main causes of splenic rupture, either due to direct impact or a broken rib on the lefthand side of the body. Other causes of spleen injury include fist fights and contact sports such as hockey and football. Also, when the body is fighting an illness, the spleen enlarges as it helps fight the infection. When the spleen is enlarged, it is more prone to injury. Splenomegaly is a disease that occurs when the spleen is abnormally enlarged and begins filtering out good blood cells as well as bad blood cells. If you experience symptoms of spleen damage due to any of these possible causes, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
Localised pain, or pain that is focused on one region of the body, is more serious than all-over pain. This is because localised pain usually means that a specific organ has been traumatised, which can be very serious or even deadly. The most prominent symptom of spleen damage is upper left abdominal pain under the ribcage or upper stomach pain. The area around the upper left abdomen can also feel tender, and the area surrounding the spleen will often be bruised.
Localised back pain is also a sign that something may be wrong with the spleen. Pain or swelling on the lefthand side of your lower back can be due to possible splenic rupture. This area can also be bruised and tender to the touch. In some cases, shoulder pain can also occur on the left side due to spleen damage. Back pain is common in many people, but if a person is experiencing the pain in these specific areas and he received an injury on the left side of the body, splenic rupture may be present.
Chest and shoulder pain on the left side of the body is often associated with heart attack; however, chest pain due to splenic rupture can also occur in these areas. Oftentimes, bruising will occur over the area of the spleen, and the area will hurt when touched. In some cases, patients with splenic rupture have experienced breathing difficulty due to stress on the lungs from an injury to the ribcage.
Low Blood Pressure
The spleen helps produce both red and white blood cells. When the spleen is ruptured, large quantities of blood can spill into the abdominal cavity. Not only does this internal bleeding cause the symptoms mentioned above, but it can also cause symptoms of high blood pressure. These symptoms include but are not limited to dizziness, fainting, fatigue or confusion. Oftentimes, vision can become blurred, and nausea and vomiting can occur.