a man grabs his side in pain as the liver mirrors his expressive face

Does the Liver Feel Pain?

Does the liver feel pain? It has been said that the liver itself cannot feel pain.

My experience with liver pain

After describing this sharp pain in my lower right-side rib cage area back in 2009, my doctor proceeded to tell me that my liver does not have pain receptors. He was gruff and matter of fact. Why on earth, then, am I sitting in his office, hurting so badly? This is not a pain made up in my head. I felt brushed off and stupid.

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This was from my primary physician, shortly after I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. I had been experiencing sharp, stabbing pain followed by a tight sensation to my right shoulder and going around into my back. I felt foolish, sitting there feeling all I was and being told this. I spoke up sternly: "Okay, then we need to figure out why I have this pain in that area if it is not my liver." He  proceeded to tell me I might have a rib out or a pinched nerve sending pain to that area. Flustered and upset, I left his office that day and went home to Google liver specialist. I knew that if I was to get good care, I would need to find another doctor that I could confide in and not made to feel I was crazy.

It was a learning curve for me, during my early years of hep C, ;earning what was good advice and instruction with my liver health. After finding my liver specialist in 2010, I learned so much about my liver from him and was astounded by the lack of information out there. I don’t expect every family medical doctor to be an expert on every disease, etc. However, I do respect when they can step up and say “I am not familiar" and then lead me to a direction where I can get accurate information.

Getting answers about liver pain

After learning from my liver specialist the true meaning behind liver pain, I now understand it better. The liver itself does not have those pain receptors, it does have a membrane surrounding it that can become inflamed due to the hepatitis virus or even an abdominal injury. This membrane is where and why we "feel" pain in the liver area.

To lessen the pain which is caused by inflammation, it is suggested to eat a moderate low-fat, low-grease, non-alcohol diet.  This will help in the long term.

To aide in the immediate pain, try stretching out on your back and bringing your hands over your head, opening up that abdominal cavity and stretching your legs out long. Going to bed, try lying in various positions on your side to see which feels better to sleep on.

Pain in the liver area is real. Although it may not come from the liver per se, it is the area surrounding and protecting it. You are not crazy, nor is this pain in your head.

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