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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Physician / Surgeon
Category: Medical
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Experience:  U.S. Surgeon / Neurological Surgery
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When I bend over to my left side, I get a severe cramp under

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When I bend over to my left side, I get a severe cramp under my ribs on the left side that takes my breath away. I have to upright my body and massage the area that is cramping. I have been told by a couple of doctors that it may be a spasm in my diaphragm. What would cause this? Is there anything I can do other than not bending over to my left side?
Do you also have pain that radiated to the back of the left shoulder?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No. It's just a cramp under my left ribs that is so severe I am unable to do anything other than straighten my body and massaging the area until I no longer have the pain. I am concerned that it could have something to do with my heart.
Well, pain from the diaphragm or other conditions that irritate the diaphragm are often felt in the back of the shoulder -- as the diaphragm often "refers" pain to that area, so I'm not sure this has to do with your diaphragm.

It sounds as if it may be more associated with the muscles of the abdominal wall, since they are cramping when you contract those muscles.

Heart related pains usually wouldn't cause cramping of the muscles, and usually would be worsened with exertion/exercise, and not necessarily changes in position.

But to reassure you, your doctors can do a physcial exam, EKG, bloodwork to rule out electrolyte disturbances as possible causes for your cramping. Also an ultrasound or CT of the abdomen can be performed to ensure there isn't a structural cause for your pain.
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I'm sorry that we aren't able to come up with "solutions", but you have to realize we are trying to guess over the Internet, without the ability to do a physical exam, bloodwork or imaging. Your doctor would have the ability to do all three of those.

However, cramping of the muscles can be caused by:

Vitamin deficiencies
Electrolyte abnormalities
Problems with blood circulation to that area
Some medications
Irritation of nerves in the area (in this area would be the lower thoracic nerves)

But one would also want to make sure left upper quadrant abdominal pain is not the cause of the pain, and an exam and imaging of the abdomen would be necessary to rule that out (if your physical exam suggested the inside the abdomen as a potential problem).