The spleen plays many important roles in the body, and various conditions and diseases can cause spleen pain. These can carry severe complications.
- defending the body against pathogens
- preventing infections
- filtering the blood by removing old or damaged red blood cells (RBCs)
- controlling the level of RBCs, white blood cells, and platelets
- metabolizing iron
Many different conditions can affect the spleen and result in spleen pain. Therefore, it is important for a medical professional to diagnose the underlying cause of splenic pain and provide appropriate treatment.
In this article, we will discuss what spleen pain might indicate, common spleen problems, and their treatment options.
Characteristic features of spleen pain include discomfort felt in the upper left side abdomen, pain behind the left ribs, and referred pain in the left shoulder. This area can be tender to the touch, and other symptoms may accompany pain,
- enlarged abdomen
- feeling full quickly after eating only a little
Spleen pain can be an indication of several problems,
- damage from a forceful blow
Spleen problems can arise for various reasons, including disease and injury.
- blood-related conditions
- autoimmune disorders
- gastrointestinal disorders
- circulatory disorders
Potential reasons for an enlarged spleen include:
- liver diseases, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis
- cancer that affects immune cells, such as lymphoma
- cancer that affects blood cells, such as leukemia
- blood clots in the blood vessels supplying the spleen or liver
- acute or chronic infection
- immune disorders affecting connective tissues, such as rheumatoid arthritis
Damaged or ruptured spleen
A ruptured spleen can
A ruptured spleen can cause pain and tenderness in the abdomen. Another sign is feeling dizzy as a result of low blood pressure due to blood loss.
Conditions affecting the liver can lead to reduced spleen function and affect immune response. Health experts may use the term hepatosplenomegaly to describe conditions that cause swelling and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Some of these conditions
- portal hypertension
Immune cell infiltration
The spleen is the largest
Injury or diseases affecting the spleen can affect the immune response and disease progression.
Immune cell infiltration plays a role in disease progression and severity. However, recent studies have found that immune cells also contribute to the resolution of inflammation during infection.
There are several ways to treat spleen pain since it has several causes. Usually, treating the underlying condition can help alleviate symptoms.
Splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the spleen. A surgeon will usually perform this procedure as a last resort. This occurs in cases
- splenic rupture
- complications from infection
- presence of abnormal growths, such as tumors and abscesses
Most of the time, surgeons perform splenectomies using laparoscopy, or keyhole surgery. However, in cases where the damage is too extensive or the spleen is too large, open surgery is favorable.
Before the surgery, a doctor will advise an individual to have certain routine vaccinations,
- influenza vaccine
- pneumococcal vaccines
- tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine
- measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- meningococcal vaccines
This is because spleen removal can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection.
A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat a variety of acute and chronic infections that may affect spleen function,
Treatment options for spleen pain that results from cancer,
Postsurgery recovery depends on the surgical approach. Laparoscopic splenectomy has less scarring and less downtime. It is possible to go home the same day as the procedure or the day after. Open surgery requires a large incision on the abdomen, so an individual may spend a few days in the hospital before going home.
Full recovery usually takes a few weeks, and doctors will advise when an individual can go back to usual activities.
It is possible to live without the spleen since the liver can take over
The spleen is an organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen, and it plays a major role in the hematology system and the body’s immune response. Several conditions can affect the spleen and cause pain, some caused by trauma and others by disease.
If an individual needs their spleen removed, it is possible to live without it. However, it may increase the risk of infection. As a result, it is important to take protective measures, such as vaccinations.