Causes Of Spleen Pain And Enlargement: Symptoms Of Spleen Disorders

In humans, spleen is situated in the left side of the abdomen, just below the rib cage and adjacent to stomach. It is an organ of upper abdomen. Spleen pain is not a common symptom to occur. The pain usually arises in the event of abnormal enlargement of spleen, or an injury to the spleen or its rupture. Spleen pain is usually mild to moderate or severe. It depends on the severity of the condition. Some conditions related to spleen disorder may be mild and treatable, while some cases can be life threatening, which may require emergency treatment.

Spleen pain is located in the upper left side of the abdomen and the back. In a normal patient the spleen is approximately the size of your fist. But in disorders of spleen, the size may increase enormously. Before knowing more about the spleen pain symptoms and causes, let us know how important spleen is and what its functions are.

What Are The Functions Of Spleen?

Spleen is a part of lymphatic system in the body and it is a spongy organ. The lymphatic system is spread throughout the body, and the lymphatic vessels carry fluid that contains glucose, salts and other molecules.

The spleen acts as a filtering organ and helps in discarding the infectious organism. It also acts upon the dead red and white cells. Spleen is also a storage depot for iron. It plays a part in formation of antibodies. The antibodies are helpful in destroying germs and disease producing infectious agents. It is also a storage center for platelets.

After reading all this functions that spleen does, you may consider it to be a vital organ of the body. However, it is not so. Spleen is not essential for life. A person can live without spleen, though there may be certain problems such as low level of immunity against the infection causing agents.

What Causes Enlargement And Pain In Spleen?

Since spleen is a soft and spongy organ it is venerable for injury and damage. Enlargement of spleen can be due to many reasons. Once the spleen is enlarged disproportionately, it may not function as it used to be. The resultant effect may be damaging to the body.

It may filter damaged as well as healthy blood cells circulating in the blood, this may lead to anemia. Enlarged spleen can damage itself and this may lead to pain in the left upper abdomen and back. There are several reasons for spleen problems and pain such as:

Infective reasons:

  • Malaria.
  • Infectious mononucleosis.
  • Weil’s disease.
  • Typhoid and paratyphoid.
  • Septicemia.
  • Kala-azar.
  • Trypanosomiasis.
  • Syphilis.

Blood diseases:

  • Acute leukemia.
  • Polycythemia vera.
  • Acquired hemolytic anemia.
  • Pernicious anemia.
  • Chronic leukemia.

Metabolic disorders:

  • Rickets.
  • Porphyra.
  • Gaucher’s disease.


  • Infective endocarditis.
  • Portal hypertension.
  • Mitral stenosis.
  • Occlusion of portal vein leading to thromboplebitis.
  • Infarction of spleen.

Collagen disease:

  • Felty’s syndrome.
  • Still’s disease.

Neoplastic conditions giving rise to spleen pain:

  • Hodgkin’s disease.
  • Angioma.
  • Primary fibrosarcoma.
  • Lymphosarcoma.

Other causes include: cyst of the spleen, an injury or trauma to spleen, especially in motor accidents.

Signs And Symptoms Of Spleen Disorders

Usually the symptoms of spleen disorder are not easily recognized, unless the enlargement is out of proportion or if there is history of trauma to that area.

  • Pain while inhaling deeply.
  • Unbearable pain in the left side of the abdomen or in the left upper abdomen.
  • Associated pain in the left side of the back.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lassitude and undue fatigue.
  • Paleness and anemia followed by jaundice.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Recurrent infections.
  • There may be small red spots which may blanch on pressure noted in the lower legs.