In most cases, gallstones do not cause any problems. Patients may put off coming to see a doctor as symptoms are 'common'. When they do cause symptoms like abdominal pain (usually on the right side, just under the ribs, or in the upper middle part of the tummy), pain in the back or right shoulder, nausea or vomiting, and bloating or indigestion, patients need to seek treatment.
Although the stones in the gall bladder can, in theory, be broken down with shock waves or chemical treatment, they often recur and the complications from such treatments outweigh the risk for gall bladder removal surgery in established surgical practice. Complications from gallstones include cholecystitis (infection of the gall bladder), cholangitis (blockage of the bile duct resulting in pain, fever and jaundice) and pancreatitis.