Left Upper Quadrant Pain - Treatment

What treatment will I need?

There is no single answer to this until you know what the cause of your pain is. See the relevant leaflet for the condition with which you have been diagnosed. Treatments for a few of the causes of left upper quadrant (LUQ) pain are briefly discussed below.

  • Shingles. The pain and rash settle on their own in time, but some people may be advised to take an antiviral tablet to help speed this process up.
  • Kidney infections are treated with antibiotics. Mild infections can be treated with antibiotics at home. If you are very unwell you may need admission to hospital for antibiotics and fluids through a drip (intravenously).
  • Kidney stones. Small kidney stones pass on their own eventually, in which case you will need to drink plenty of fluids and take strong painkillers. Larger kidney stones may need one of a number of procedures done to break them up or remove them altogether.
  • A stomach ulcer is usually treated with acid-suppressing medication, as is indigestion.
  • Gastroenteritis usually doesn't need any treatment, other than drinking plenty of fluid to compensate for all that is being lost. Occasionally when germs (bacteria) which can be treated with antibiotics are causing the infection an antibiotic may help.
  • Ruptured spleens are usually removed with an operation (a splenectomy). You can survive without your spleen, but you do need to take certain precautions, as your spleen is important for your immune system. These include having certain immunisations and in some people taking regular antibiotics.
  • If the spleen is enlarged by lymphoma or leukaemia, treatment is usually with chemotherapy.
  • Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics.

What is the outlook?

Again this depends entirely on the cause of the pain. Some conditions settle very quickly on their own (for example, gastroenteritis), or with the help of antibiotics (for example, a kidney infection). Others can be cured with treatment, such as stomach ulcers. Some can rumble on for a long time, such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Your doctor should be able to give you an idea of the outlook (prognosis) once a diagnosis has become clear.

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  • Kim JS; Acute Abdominal Pain in Children. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2013 Dec 16(4):219-224. Epub 2013 Dec 31.
  • Cartwright SL, Knudson MP; Diagnostic imaging of acute abdominal pain in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Apr 1 91(7):452-9.
Author:
Dr Mary Harding
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
29409 (v1)
Last Checked:
08 July 2017
Next Review:
07 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.