Pain in the spleen


Spleen pain is mostly in the left upper abdomen localized at the level of the navel. However, the pain can also spread to the lower abdomen under the navel or even to the left shoulder. Radiating spleen pain usually occur with colicky spleen pain. Colic is about undulating severe painoften described as labor-like.

Pain quality / intensity

The pain in the spleen is often called stabbing described, with more or less intense intensity. Doing so can reduce the pain continuously to be there, return or suddenly occur.


The causes of spleen pain are diverse. The causes can be:

  • Spleen inflammation:

Specifically, this is an inflammation of the spleen capsule.

  • Splenic Infarction:

In the case of a splenic infarction, one or more splenic vessels become blocked, which leads to an insufficient supply of this area of ​​the spleen. In the case of a splenic infarction, there may be referred pain in the groin.

Find out all about the topic here: The splenic infarction.

Rupture of the spleen

An accident or a fall can tear the spleen. A distinction is made between a one-stage and a two-stage rupture of the spleen. If the spleen ruptures once, the spleen capsule and the spleen tissue are injured at the same time, leading to a direct bleeding into the abdominal cavity. In the case of a two-stage rupture of the spleen, the tissue of the spleen is injured and the capsule rupture later, with bleeding into the abdominal cavity. The rupture of the spleen can be very dangerous, as it can quickly lead to severe blood loss through internal bleeding, so the main aim is to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. In addition, you have to partially or completely remove the spleen.

Read more about this under Rupture of the spleen

If the spleen is enlarged in combination with spleen pain, the following causes are possible:

  • Infections:

The main infection with enormous swelling of the spleen is malaria. However, EBV (Epstein-Barr infection, also known as glandular fever), HIV infection, rubella, toxoplasmosis (a common parasitic disease that is transmitted by cats and their feces), and bacterial heart inflammation (endocarditis) lead to spleen swelling and pain.

  • Spleen tumor or spleen swelling:

Spleen enlargement or swelling can also lead to pain, as the enlarged spleen presses against its capsule and surrounding organs and structures.

  • Metabolic diseases:

Metabolic diseases also include various Storage disorderscaused by disturbances of enzymes, Mutations or other errors in the metabolic cycle.

  • Blood cell cancer:

This can come from different blood cells. Malignant diseases of the white blood cells are Lymphoma or an acutely occurring change in the blood cells with many immature cells: leukemia. Lymphoma is usually a chronic, long-term disease of the white blood cells. Blood cell cancer is caused by a Blood count, sampling and Bone marrow exams discovered.

  • Stasis processes in the spleen:

Obstruction processes in the spleen can mainly be caused by Portal hypertension to be triggered. At a Portal hypertension it is high blood pressure in the main vein that supplies the liver, which carries blood from the intestines, pancreas and stomach. The blood backlog can cause Backwater come to the spleen system and thus to a Swelling of the spleen.

  • rheumatic diseases:

Especially in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (a Inflammatory joint disease, which occurs especially in adolescence) lead to enlarged spleen and pain.

  • Cancers:

It can be Daughter ulcers (Metastases in the spleen), blood cell cancer see above act.

  • rare diseases:

Also a rare one Autoimmune diseases how lupus erythematosus can be causative. There are also diseases of the red blood cells such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia.


With spleen pain, the symptoms usually occur in the left upper abdomen. There lies the spleen, which is covered by the ribs. However, the symptoms can also radiate and extend into the left lower abdomen or into the left shoulder. Depending on the cause of the pain, it can manifest itself in different ways. In the case of a splenic infarction or a ruptured spleen, the pain comes on suddenly and is usually sharp. In the case of infectious diseases in which the spleen is also affected, the pain can develop over a longer period of time and manifest as a feeling of pressure due to an enlarged spleen, or it can be severe and stabbing.

More symptoms

  • fever
  • Fatigue, tiredness, weakness
  • paleness
  • Spleen swelling
  • Curvature of the body from the pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • Racing heart
  • Epistaxis


Diagnosing splenic pain disease begins with a physical exam. The doctor feels under the left costal arch and the patient is asked to inhale at the same time. Before doing this, the doctor scans the abdominal region from bottom to top. An enlargement is present when the spleen is clearly palpable at least when inhaling. This is usually followed by an ultrasound examination, a blood count, and if necessary, if a ruptured spleen is suspected, a computer tomography.

Read more on the topic: Ultrasound of the abdomen

Other influences

Spleen pain can occur more frequently in certain situations. These can then be based on the other / external Influences to explain.

Spleen pain when coughing

Step in Left-sided pain associated with cough that are located in the area of ​​the costal arch, the spleen may be responsible. In addition, however, a Lung disease, such as a lung infection or to one Inflammation of the pleura be thought. Because these can also cause left-sided pain and come much more often considered as causes.

If the spleen is the trigger for the pain, this usually works with one Enlargement of the organ hand in hand. Different causes come into consideration for an enlarged spleen and cough-related pain. This includes above all Infections how Whistling glandular fever or tuberculosis. In the case of infections, accompanying symptoms usually occur, which are indicative of the respective underlying disease. But also one Anemia can result in an enlarged spleen that presses on surrounding organs when coughing and causes pain.

Very severe pain when coughing can be a Splenic infarction lead, i.e. the occlusion of a blood vessel that supplies the spleen. This interrupts the supply of nutrients to the spleen and after a while the organ begins to die. Also a Rupture of the spleen, one Ruptured spleen, causes severe acute pain. The cause for this are mostly accidents with strong forces acting on the left upper abdomen.

Spleen pain after eating

Upper abdominal pain in the spleen area, which occurs mainly after eating, is common in most cases not due to the spleen, but to other organs. The Pain radiate then to the area where the spleen is located.

The most common cause of this is that Gastric mucosathat are either inflamed, or one ulcer may have. By eating food it gets in the stomach increases stomach acid which is important for digestion. This irritates the mucous membrane so that the pain occurs more intensely after eating. But also the Pancreas (pancreas) can be the cause of left upper abdominal pain after eating. Since this also plays an important role in digestion, the pain is also dependent on the diet. Since the tail of the pancreas in particular is very close to the spleen, the pain can be not exactly assigned become. Also a Spread of inflammation the pancreas on the spleen is possible and can lead to severe pain here. If there is an acute inflammation of the pancreas affecting or in the tail area localized tumor, It may be necessary to remove the spleen as well as the affected part of the pancreas.

Spleen pain after alcohol

A excessive alcohol consumption has many negative effects on the body. In addition to the damage to the liver is also the spleen affected by it. In most cases this is one Result of liver damage. Regular alcohol consumption can lead to a Remodeling of the liver structure come so that a Cirrhosis of the liver developed. The blood that flows from the abdominal organs back to the heart first flows through the liver. In the case of cirrhosis of the liver, this is not possible or only possible to a limited extent, so that it leads to a Backwater comes. The blood builds up back to the spleen and the blood cells are there increasingly degraded. Since the normal function of the spleen is exceeded, enlarged this as a result of alcohol consumption. A enlarged spleen presses on the surrounding organs and can thereby Pain to lead.

Spleen pain during pregnancy

During the pregnancy are all organs of the abdomen through the growing child repressed and change their position. Especially at the end of pregnancy, the organs of the upper abdomen, such as the spleen, increasingly pushed upwards and compressed become. Through this additional pressure can it to Pain come. Especially if one enlarged spleen it can cause pain in the spleen. Movement of the unborn child and deep breathing or coughing can make this pain even worse. In most cases, these are Spleen pain harmlessHowever, if they last longer or are very strong, a Consulted a doctor in order to rule out any serious causes or to be able to identify them at an early stage. These are usually Ultrasound examinations necessary.