Liver Pain

Learn the details about liver pain.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a condition where, after a time with chronic liver disease, the liver begins to deteriorate. In such a case, fibrous scar tissue replaces the normal liver tissue. Nodules can also form where the damaged tissue has been regenerated.

Symptoms

In addition to liver pain, the following are several potential symptoms that may be encountered in a case of cirrhosis:

Abdominal pain and bloating
Appetite loss / weight loss
Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen)
Fatigue / weakness
Itching
Nausea / vomiting
Spider veins (telangiectasias)

Causes

Cirrhosis can be caused by a selection of underlying medical conditions and diseases in a patient. Below are several which may be considered as causes:

Alcohol-related liver disease
Bile duct damage or destruction
Certain infections or toxins
Chronic hepatitis B, C, or D
Inherited diseases (cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis, and others)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Particular medications

Keep in mind that the condition can be caused by other items not mentioned here. A lack of such existing diseases or conditions in a patient does not mean that cirrhosis will not occur.



Diagnosis and Treatment

Cirrhosis diagnosis is generally given initially based upon underlying factors like alcohol use and obesity. Medical history and the symptoms of a patient may be taken into consideration. Physical examination, imaging tests, and blood tests can be used as confirmation methods. In some situations a liver biopsy may also be performed.

Treatment options vary in different circumstances, including in various underlying causes, as well as considering whether complications are present.

General Complications

A variety of complications can arise in a case of cirrhosis of the liver. Some conditions which may be present include the following (not intended to be a complete list):

Ascites and edema
Gallstones
Hepatic encephalopathy
Medication sensitivity
Type 2 diabetes (and/or insulin resistance)


Liver Complications

In the scarring that occurs, the liver's ability to perform certain tasks is impaired:

Controlling infections
Damage control - replacing its own damaged cells (when the disease is at the end-stage)
Making proteins to regulate blood clotting
Processing hormones, nutrients, and medications
Producing bile (which assists in absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins) Removing toxins (such as bacteria) from the blood

Blood flow through the patient's liver can also be somewhat blocked due to the scarring. Eventually, cirrhosis can lead to death.

Return home to read about other potential causes of liver pain.