Gallstone Symptoms: Right Shoulder Pain

Often when you have gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, or other forms of gallbladder disease, you will feel pain in your right shoulder even though your gallbladder is located on the right side of your abdomen, about half way between your belly button and your Adam’s apple. Why is this?

  • Western medicine: The nerves that control to your gallbladder connect to the celiac plexus and the vagus nerve. The nerve that communicates pain, tightness, or other sensory feelings about your gallbladder, though, is the right phrenic nerve which exits your spinal cord at your C3, C4, and C5. Stimulating this nerve by having gallbladder pain often “refers” the pain to under your right shoulder blade.
  • Eastern medicine: Chinese meridians, or paths where energy flows, show a path from your gallbladder to your right shoulder (continuing upward to various points on your neck and head.) When you have gallstones or other gallbladder problems, the energy stalls often resulting in pain along other points of the meridian – one of which is under your right shoulder blade.


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