Rib Cage Pain


Find a Doctor:   

By Medicover Hospitals / 4 Jan 2021
Home | symptoms | rib-cage-pain
  • Traumatic injury, muscle strain, joint inflammation, or chronic pain may cause rib pain that appears to come from a rib, and varies in severity.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is rib cage pain?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Home remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What is rib cage pain?

  • Rib cage pain can be sharp, dull, or achy and is felt in the chest or below the chest or above the belly button on both sides. It can occur after an obvious or unexplained injury.Rib cage pain can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from a pulled muscle to a broken rib.
  • Pain can occur immediately after an injury or develop slowly over time. It may also be a sign of the underlying health problem. You should report any unexplained rib cage pain to your doctor immediately.
  • Causes:

  • There are many possible causes of pain in the rib cage. A doctor will diagnose the underlying cause using a physical exam and imaging scans. Common reasons for pain in the rib cage include:
  • Injury:

    • Chest injuries from falls, traffic collisions, and sports-related contact are the most common cause of pain in the rib cage. Types of injuries include:
      • broken ribs
      • bruised ribs
      • fractured ribs
      • stretched muscle
    • Rib cage pain that begins after a wound is usually diagnosed with an X-ray to highlight bone fractures and fractures. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and other scans can detect soft tissue injury.


    • Another common cause of chest pain is costochondritis or Tietze syndrome.
    • This condition is defined by inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. It usually occurs in the cartilage that connects the upper ribs to the breastbone, an area called the costosternal joint.
    • The pain in the rib cage due to costochondritis ranges from mild to severe. Symptoms include tenderness and pain on contact with the chest. Serious cases can cause pain that radiates to the limbs or pain that interferes with everyday life.
    • Some cases of costochondritis go away without treatment, while others require medical intervention.


    • Pleuritis, also called pleuritis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the walls of the lungs and chest.
    • The pleura are thin tissues that line the lining of the chest and the lungs. In their healthy state, they glide smoothly over each other. However, the inflammation causes them to rub, causing significant pain.
    • Since the advent of antibiotics, pleurisy is much less common than it used to be. Even when it happens, it is often a mild condition that resolves itself. Pleuritis generally lasts from a couple of days to two weeks.
    • Other inflammatory conditions of the lungs, such as bronchitis, can also cause pain around the rib cage.


    • One of the symptoms of lung cancer is rib cage pain or chest pain that gets worse with deep breaths, coughing, or laughing. Other symptoms to watch out for include coughing up blood or phlegm, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
    • The outlook for lung cancer is worse than that of other forms of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. People with early-stage lung cancer have a better chance of being cured, which underlines the importance of early intervention.
    • Metastatic lung cancer, or cancer that starts in one area and spreads to the lungs, is a potentially fatal disease. It will also create pain in the rib cage or chest.


    • It is a chronic disease causing pain throughout the body. According to estimates from the American College of Rheumatology, fibromyalgia affects between 2% and 4% of people, 90% of whom are women.
    • The pain associated with fibromyalgia can be a burning, throbbing, stabbing, or aching sensation. These pains are usually felt in the rib cage, although any part of the body can be affected.
    • Some research suggests that non-specific chest pain, including chest pain, is the most common co-occurring disease that leads to the hospitalization of people with fibromyalgia.

    Pulmonary embolism:

    • Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when an artery entering the lungs is blocked. The blockage is often caused by a blood clot rising from one of the legs.
    • The pain associated with fibromyalgia can be a burning, throbbing, stabbing, or aching sensation. These pains are usually felt in the rib cage, although any part of the body can be affected.
    • In addition to chest pain, PE can cause the following symptoms:
      • shortness of breath
      • rapid breathing
      • cough, including coughing up blood
      • anxiety
      • dizziness
      • sweat
      • irregular heartbeat
    • PE is a serious disease that can damage the lungs and other organs due to reduced oxygen in the blood. Anyone who has symptoms of PE should see a doctor.


    • When talking to your doctor, describe the type of pain you feel and the movements that make the pain worse. The type of pain you are feeling and the area of ​​pain can help your doctor determine which tests will help them make a diagnosis.
    • If your pain started after an injury, your doctor may order an imaging test such as an x-ray. A chest x-ray may show broken bones or bone abnormalities. Detailed rib x-rays are also helpful.
    • If any abnormalities, such as abnormal growth, appear on your x-ray or during your physical exam, your doctor will order soft tissue imaging, such as an MRI. An MRI gives the physician a detailed view of your rib cage and the surrounding muscles, organs, and tissues.
    • If you experience chronic pain, your physician may order a bone scan. Your doctor will order a bone scan if they think bone cancer may be causing the pain. For this test, they will give you a small amount of radioactive dye called a tracer.
    • Your physician will then use a special camera to scan your body for the tracer. The image on this camera will highlight bone defects.


  • The treatment for rib cage pain depends on the cause of the pain.
    • If the rib cage pain is due to a minor injury, such as a pulled muscle or a bruise, you can use a cold compress on the area to reduce the swelling. If you experience severe pain, you can also take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
    • If over-the-counter medications do not relieve pain from an injury, your doctor may prescribe other medications, as well as a compression wrap. A compression bandage is a large elastic bandage that wraps around your chest.
    • The compression wrap firmly holds the area to prevent further injury and greater pain. However, these wraps are only needed in rare cases because the tightness of the compression band makes it difficult to breathe. This can increase your risk of pneumonia.
    • If bone cancer is causing pain, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you depending on the type of cancer and where the cancer is coming from. By determining the origin of cancer, you will be your doctor, whether it started in the ribs or spread to another area of ​​the body. Your doctor may suggest surgery to remove or biopsy the abnormal growths.
    • In some cases, surgical removal is not possible or maybe too dangerous. In these cases, your doctor may choose to reduce them with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Once the growth is small enough, they can then remove it surgically.

    When to visit a Doctor?

  • Pain in the rib cage can be attributed to many underlying injuries or medical conditions. A person should always see a doctor in all cases of unexplained chest pain.
  • If chest pain or pressure is severe and breathing becomes difficult, a person should seek emergency medical attention as these symptoms may indicate a heart attack.
  • Home Remedies:

  • Some causes of rib pain such as muscle tension or joint inflammation can probably be treated at home.
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers: If the rib pain is due to muscle tension or inflammation at the junction of the cartilage in the ribs, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help relieve the pain.
    • Rest: If the rib pain is due to muscle tension or inflammation at the rib cartilage junction, rest can help. Avoid activities that make the pain worse for a week or two to allow the inflammation to subside.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • The more frequent cause of chest pain is costochondritis. Costochondritis occurs when the cartilage connecting your ribs to your breastbone is inflamed.
  • Liver disease, liver cancer, or liver infection can each causing pain in the right upper abdomen. The pain may be dull and chronic. You may feel the pain under your right ribs. Other symptoms include nausea, jaundice, fatigue, dark-colored urine, swollen feet and ankles, contusions, and weight loss.
  • Pleurisy on the left side can cause pain under the left rib cage, but the main symptom is a sharp, throbbing pain when you breathe. See a doctor if you experience severe chest pain while breathing.