Tingling In The Side : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated: 07/09/2022

Tingling in the side develops with damage to the hepatobiliary zone (hepatitis, cholecystitis, dyskinesia of the gastrointestinal tract), chronic pancreatitis, intestinal diseases (colitis, IBS, polyposis). Less commonly, the symptom is associated with an increase or injury to the spleen, abdominal hernia, gynecological diseases in women. To establish the causes of tingling, ultrasound, X-ray and endoscopic studies, laboratory tests of blood and feces are prescribed. Treatment of stabbing sensations in the side involves the use of analgesics and antispasmodics, etiotropic drugs, the selection of physiotherapeutic methods.

Why does tingling occur in the side

Physiological factors

Tingling in the side is possible with physical exertion. The symptom is caused by an overflow of blood in the liver or spleen. A person suddenly feels a stabbing pain at the moment of maximum activity, which forces him to stop, grab his side with his hand. An unpleasant feeling lasts no more than 10-2 minutes, disappears on its own after rest. If the manifestation bothers you too often and with little training, this may indicate a pathological process.

Diseases of the hepatobiliary system

Chronic diseases of the liver and biliary tract are the main cause of tingling in the side on the right. Discomfort is provoked by spasms of the smooth muscles of the gallbladder, ducts or sphincters. Stitching sensations are localized just below the ribs, sometimes they are felt from the back or along the midline of the abdomen. The symptom is usually accompanied by heaviness in the right hypochondrium, nausea, stool disorders. Tingling is manifested:

  • Biliary dyskinesia. In the hyperkinetic variant, 15-2 minutes after eating, a person feels sharp stabbing pains that last an average of 45-9 minutes. The hypokinetic form of dyskinesia is characterized by moderate tingling that occurs an hour or more after the end of the meal and disturbs the person for several hours.
  • Cholecystitis. With inflammation of the gallbladder, the patient experiences a longer, compared with dyskinesia, tingling, which is not always associated with eating. Strong stabbing sensations are observed with calculous cholecystitis, a complication of the disease with cholangitis.
  • Hepatitis. The tingling occurs when the liver is enlarged, in combination with the inflammatory process, which leads to overstretching of the Glisson capsule. Often, with hepatitis, pain is moderately expressed. A person notes periodic stabbing pains that begin for no apparent reason and are accompanied by jaundice, dyspeptic symptoms.
  • parasitic infestations. Damage to the liver by helminths provokes moderate stabbing pains in the right side, which increase as the parasites multiply. The tingling intensifies with high physical activity, bending over, after eating. Symptoms are typical for echinococcosis, amoebiasis, opisthorchiasis.

Diseases of the spleen

Unpleasant tingling on the left side, closer to the ribs, occurs with splenomegaly. The symptom is caused by various pathologies: hemolytic anemia, infectious processes (cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus), autoimmune disorders (systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis, periarteritis nodosa). Strong tingling is felt with mild to moderate injuries to the spleen that do not lead to rupture of the organ or bleeding.

Chronic pancreatitis

This disease is characterized by periodic tingling in the left side, which occurs when eating large amounts of high-calorie, fatty or fried foods. Discomfort is maximally manifested half an hour after the end of a meal and persists for several hours. In addition to stabbing sensations, the patient is worried about nausea, heaviness in the abdomen, and increased gas formation. Pancreatitis should be considered when tingling is accompanied by steatorrhea.

Intestinal lesion

Stinging pains of moderate intensity are a characteristic symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The patient reports that the maximum discomfort occurs in the morning, when colic appears in the right and left sides due to severe flatulence. After defecation, unpleasant symptoms decrease or completely disappear. With IBS, exacerbation of stabbing pains is observed against the background of psycho-emotional stress.

Periodic tingling occurs in chronic inflammatory processes in the intestines: colitis, sigmoiditis, diverticulitis. Usually there is an erased clinical symptomatology: unsharp pain and colic, stool instability, flatulence and gas incontinence. Increased discomfort is provoked by errors in nutrition, physical or mental overwork.

Gynecological diseases

Pathologies of the uterus and appendages are a common cause of tingling in the side in women. Symptoms appear on the side of the lesion. Stitching pain is predominantly found in adnexitis and endometriosis of the appendages, less often in endometritis. Patients complain of stabbing sensations in the side, which are noticeably aggravated by active movements, sharp turns or bends, coughing or sneezing, bowel movements, urination.


Tingling in the side is observed with uncomplicated reducible hernial protrusions. Occurs with an increase in intra-abdominal pressure due to cough paroxysm, straining during defecation, heavy physical exertion. Stitching pains are combined with the appearance of a hernial sac in the form of an elastic "tumor" covered with unchanged skin. Education is reduced into the abdominal cavity independently or with manual help.

Rare Causes

  • Kidney damage : glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, urolithiasis.
  • Bowel diseases : ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, polyps.
  • Surgical pathologies : appendicular infiltrate, mesadenitis.
  • Diseases of the chest : lower lobe pneumonia, pleurisy, heart failure.


Due to the variety of causes of tingling in the side, the patient is recommended a comprehensive examination. The primary examination is carried out by a gastroenterologist, if necessary, a consultation of a hepatologist, gynecologist, surgeon is prescribed. Physical data are often uninformative, so the diagnostic search includes a number of instrumental and laboratory studies:

  • Ultrasound of the abdominal organs. The screening diagnostic method is effective for detecting typical pathologies: signs of inflammation and stone formation in the gallbladder, intestinal diseases, enlarged liver or spleen. For probable gynecological reasons, women undergo targeted transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Figurative radiography of the OBP. The study is used to assess the condition of the abdominal organs, detect gallstones, indirect signs of inflammatory or tumor processes in the intestine. To verify the diagnosis, the examination is supplemented by radiography with oral contrast, irrigography.
  • Endoscopic methods. If diagnosis is difficult, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is recommended. Endoscopy visualizes the state of the mucous membrane of the colon, allows you to take a biopsy of pathologically altered areas. In case of damage to the organs of the hepatobiliary zone, ERCP is informative - an invasive method for examining the bile and pancreatic ducts.
  • Additional research. To assess the functional activity of the biliary tract, duodenal sounding is performed. If chronic liver disease is suspected, elastography and scintigraphy are indicated. To clarify the diagnosis in doubtful cases, they resort to CT of the abdominal cavity, positron emission tomography.
  • Laboratory methods. The standard diagnostic complex includes a hemogram, a clinical analysis of urine, and a study of feces for helminth eggs. For differential diagnosis of biliary, pancreatic and intestinal pathology, the coprogram is informative. To study the work of the hepatobiliary system, liver tests are performed.

Ultrasound of the hepatobiliary zone



Help before diagnosis

Since tingling in the side can be caused by various reasons, it is usually impossible to eliminate an unpleasant symptom without a visit to the doctor. To relieve colic, use antispasmodics or painkillers in accordance with the instructions. If the symptom is accompanied by dyspeptic disorders, the diet should be normalized, provocative foods should be excluded. With severe stabbing pains and deterioration of health, you should immediately seek medical help.

Conservative therapy

To quickly eliminate soreness and tingling, gastroenterologists use antispasmodics, which relax smooth muscles, and analgesics from the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have a universal effect. The tingling in the side is of medium intensity, so there is no need to resort to strong painkillers or novocaine blockades.

The further course of therapy is selected taking into account the underlying disease. In hepatobiliary pathologies, choleretics and cholekinetics, hepatoprotectors, etiotropic antimicrobial and antiprotozoal drugs are prescribed. To normalize the condition of the intestines, probiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs or glucocorticoids), intestinal antiseptics are taken. To improve digestion, medicines with pancreatic enzymes, bile components are recommended.

For the relief of chronic pain, physiotherapeutic methods of treatment are effective: SMT and reflexology. In order to purposefully deliver drugs to the lesion, the technique of drug electrophoresis is used. Hepatobiliary diseases occurring with stagnation of bile require individual selection of therapeutic mineral waters.


Surgical intervention is performed extremely rarely, in case of a complicated course of pathology or ineffectiveness of conservative methods. The help of abdominal surgeons is indicated for strangulated or irreducible hernias, total intestinal damage in UC or Crohn's disease, exacerbation of calculous cholecystitis. Some diseases of the reproductive sphere in women also require surgical treatment with wedge resection of the ovary, oophorectomy.