Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Liver pain is often confused with abdominal pain and actual liver pain feels like a discomfort in the upper right abdomen. This condition may involve swelling, liver enlargement, or inflammation. Injury can be the reason for liver pain though some cases are linked to various disorders. The liver is a detoxifying organ and when there is a pain it signals that the issue needs to be addressed.

What Does Liver Pain Feel Like & What Can You Do About A Liver Pain?

What Does Liver Pain Feel Like?

The job of the liver is to detoxify and flush out the waste and convert the food into essential nutrients for the body. When there is some kind of liver disease, these functions are not done by the liver properly. The body reacts through the signs of toxicity. Liver pain can also feel like a stabbing sensation that can take away your breath. Associated symptoms of liver pain include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark brownish urine
  • Swelling of the ankles or legs
  • Yellow skin or white eyes.

Causes of Liver Pain

The possible causes of liver pain are:

Liver disease is not uncommon. Hepatitis, excessive alcohol consumption, and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases are the most common causes and liver pain also indicates Reye syndrome, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and hemochromatosis. Sometimes the pain is also caused due to issues in the gallbladder, kidneys, and the pancreas.

Diagnosis of Liver Pain

The doctor visually inspects the abdomen and checks for the inflammation and can ask several questions regarding your lifestyle and nature of pain. A blood test is also done to check whether the liver is functioning properly.

MRI, ultrasonography, or a CT scan is performed to check for cysts and tumors. A test called stereotactic liver biopsy may also be performed. Transient elastography is another ultrasound testing which is done to check the liver stiffness for fibrosis or scarring. The doctor may refer you to a hepatologist or gastroenterologist for further evaluation.

What Can You Do About A Liver Pain?

Natural Remedies for Liver Pain: Drink plenty of water if you experience liver pain after drinking alcohol. Avoid fatty foods for few days. If the pain persists for several hours, then visit a doctor. If you experience nausea or dizziness along with liver pain, you need emergency care.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes: Liver is an organ that can repair and regenerate itself. A diet that is too low in protein can decrease a liver volume significantly. Lifestyle changes like lowering cholesterol levels, reducing body fat are defenses for treating the causes of liver pain. The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can be managed by exercise and diet.

Medications to Ease Liver Pain: Once the causes of liver pain are diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe medication that can lower the pain. Drugs for treating hepatitis B exist and researchers have found several antivirals that can make the virus of hepatitis C undetectable in the bloodstream.

Liver Cancer Treatment: If the cause of liver pain is liver cancer, then the doctor may advise how to stop its spread. You may be referred to an oncologist for speedy treatment. Sometimes, the damage to the liver is due to hepatitis, cancer, and alcohol that cannot be reversed. In such cases, the best treatment option is the liver transplant.

Prevention of Liver Pain

To prevent liver pain and liver diseases it is advised to:

  • Drink alcohol at moderate rate
  • Get hepatitis vaccination
  • Avoid risky things such as sharing the drug needles
  • Use medications properly
  • Maintain a proper diet and healthy weight
  • Get hepatitis screening.


The liver pain conditions seem on the rise. However, the outlook of people diagnosed with the liver disease has changed. With proper medical care, lifestyle modification, and diet, and by managing the body well, liver disease causing liver pain can be managed effectively, though not cured completely. Do not ignore the liver pain signals. Talk to your doctor about appropriate treatment.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: March 21, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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