Gallbladder Pain, Symptoms and Treatment

gallbladder pain area

It is the swelling and sudden irritation of the gallbladder. This phenomenon causes severe abdominal pain.

While vesicular pathology is one of the most common diseases, you should know that it sometimes takes time to diagnose since gallbladder pains can be hard to distinguish and differentiate from those of other conditions.

First of all, it is essential to keep in mind why the gallbladder hurts. What causes the pains are gallstones formed in the biliary tract, and when they move, they generate biliary colic.

Description and Symptoms

Gallstones can sit in the gallbladder for years without giving any symptoms. However, when they block the bile ducts sudden severe abdominal pain often results, known as biliary colic.

Pain is generally in the central abdomen and under the right ribs. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. The pain lasts typically one to five hours before subsiding, but it may reoccur from time to time.

Complications of gallstone disease can occur if the ducts from the liver or the pancreas are blocked.

Patients may show fever, jaundice, or persistent pain (more prolonged than that usually seen with gallstones). Urgent medical attention is needed. Ultrasound can detect gallstones.

Other causes of gallbladder pain are infrequent. Cancer of the gallbladder may also occur. Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis is an uncommon inflammatory disease of the gallbladder; it is not cancerous, although it gives similar symptoms.

These diseases of the gallbladder can present similar symptoms to gallstones, but any pain tends to be less acute and more persistent.

Gallbladder Pain Causes.

Gallstones are the primary cause of gallbladder pain. These are lumps of solid, typically formed from cholesterol or bilirubin, which gradually form in the liquid (bile) in the gallbladder.

Various factors increase the risk of getting gallstones. They are common in those who have a close relative who suffers from them.

They are more common in women than men and are more prevalent in women who are taking the combined oral contraceptive pill or hormone-replacement therapy.

Obese people are usually at risk. Gallstones become more common the older people become. Sudden weight loss may also cause gallstones.

Various diseases, such as cirrhosis of the liver, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, increase the risk of gallstones.

The gallbladder is an organ that lies below the liver. Stores bile, which the body uses to digest fats in the small intestine.

Acute cholecystitis occurs when bile is trapped in the gallbladder. This often happens because a gallstone blocks the cystic duct, the duct through which bile travels into and out of the gallbladder.

When a stone blocks this duct, bile collects, causing irritation and pressure in the gallbladder. This can lead to swelling and infection.

Other causes include:

  • Acute illnesses such as HIV or diabetes
  • Tumors of the gallbladder (rare)

Some people are at higher risk for gallstones. Risk factors include:

  • To be a woman
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Advanced age
  • Being Native American or Hispanic
  • Obesity
  • Lower or gain weight quickly
  • Diabetes

Sometimes the bile duct is temporarily blocked. When this occurs repetitively, it can lead to chronic cholecystitis. This is the swelling and irritation that continues over time.

Finally, the gallbladder becomes thick and hard. At that point, he does not store or secrete bile well as he used to.

Chronic inflammation of the gallbladder sometimes occurs, often due to stones blocking the exit of bile from the gallbladder.

Cancer of the gallbladder is a rare disease in the United States, although it’s quite common in South America.

It is more likely to occur in those suffering from gallstones. Native Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk.

Treatments for Gallbladder Pain.

The acute pain of biliary colic will typically resolve itself; in most cases, the stone will find its way into the digestive tract and eventually the body will naturally expel it.

Ursodeoxycholic acid tablets are taken orally. They will gradually dissolve gallstones containing cholesterol, but the process may take up to two years.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pacreatography (ERCP) is a procedure used to remove stones blocking the bile ducts.

An endoscope is fed down from the mouth into the digestive system and used to widen the opening of the bile duct.

Surgical Removal of the Gallbladder is the usual treatment of chronic gallbladder pain. Usually, the operation can be carried out using “keyhole surgery,” so recovery is reasonably rapid.

In most people, the removal doesn’t truly impact their quality of life, but in a minority of patients, it can cause persistent abdominal pains and diarrhea.

Cancer of the gallbladder is treated by removing the affected organ. The danger is that cancer may have spread elsewhere.

The surgeon sometimes may need to remove Nearby lymph nodes and adjacent liver tissue. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is often carried out after surgery.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have severe abdominal pain.

In the emergency room, you are given fluids intravenously. They can also provide you antibiotics to fight the infection.

Cholecystitis can be resolved by itself. However, if you have stones, you will probably need surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Antibiotics you should take at home to fight infection
  • Low-fat diet (if you can eat)
  • Analgesics

You may need emergency surgery if you have complications such as:

  • Gangrene (tissue death)
  • Perforation (a hole that forms on the wall of the gallbladder)
  • Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
  • Persistent blockage of the bile ducts
  • Choledochal duct inflammation

If your condition worsens, you can place a tube through your belly to the gallbladder to drain it. Once you feel relief, doctors can perform the surgery.

Expectations (prognosis).

Most people who undergo surgery removing the gallbladder, recover completely.

Possible complications.

If you do not receive treatment, cholecystitis can lead to any of the following conditions:

  • Empyema (pus in the gallbladder)
  • Gangrene
  • Injury to the bile ducts that empty the liver (may occur after a cholecystectomy)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Drilling
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen)

Call your health care provider if:

  • Severe abdominal pain does not go away
  • Symptoms of cholecystitis reappear


Excision of the gallbladder and gallstones can prevent subsequent attacks.