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When to Get Help

Go to the emergency department if you have pain:

  • that is severe and not improving
  • along with other symptoms like vomiting, trouble breathing, fever or bleeding
  • in your chest


Pain can be complicated. Each person experiences and responds to it differently. Some people might have pain related to cirrhosis, but there are many possible causes. Even your mood, or having depression or anxiety can also cause or worsen pain.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare team if you are having pain and they can help determine what the cause may be.


Mind and Body Therapies

It’s important to consider how mind and body therapies might help manage your pain. For many people these therapies control pain, or help lower it a lot. Some examples of mind and body therapies are:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Counseling

If you have cirrhosis, you should be extra cautious with pain medications. You can find more information on medication safety here.

Self Care Tips:

  • Learn deep breathing or meditation to help you relax.
  • Reduce stress in your life as stress intensifies chronic pain.
  • Try to exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet (avoid fatty foods) and drink enough fluids.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illicit drugs as these can both worsen pain.
  • Join a support group.
  • Try tracking your pain level and activities every day.
  • If you experience pain in the morning or after a meal, drink plenty of water.
  • Sit up straight to take pressure off your liver.

Let your healthcare provider know if:

  • you have new pain that is different than your “usual pain” in how severe or where it is located.
  • your pain is not getting better with treatment and is keeping you from doing things you want to.
  • you are unable to have bowel movements or pass gas.


The information on this page was adapted (with permission) from the references below, by the Cirrhosis Care Alberta project team (physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, registered dietitians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, and patient advisors).

This information is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare team. They know your medical situation best. Always follow your healthcare team’s advice.


  1. US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration 
  2. Canadian Liver Foundation
  3. Davison SN on behalf of the Kidney Supportive Care Research Group. Conservative Kidney Management Pathway; Available from: https//
  4. My Health Alberta
Last reviewed March 15, 2021
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