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Ribcage pain

Definition

Ribcage pain includes any pain or discomfort in the area of the ribs.

Alternative Names

Pain - ribcage

Considerations

With a broken rib, the pain is worse when bending and twisting the body. This movement does not cause the pain in someone who has pleurisy (swelling of the lining of the lungs) or muscle spasms.

Causes

Ribcage pain may be caused by any of the following:

  • Bruised, cracked, or fractured rib
  • Inflammation of cartilage near the breastbone (costochondritis)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pleurisy (the pain is worse when breathing deeply)

Home Care

Rest and not moving the area (immobilization) are the best cures for a ribcage fracture.

Follow your health care provider's instructions for treating the cause of ribcage pain.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your provider if you do not know the cause of the pain, or if it does not go away.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider may perform a physical examination. You'll likely be asked about your symptoms, such as when the pain started, its location, the kind of pain you're having, and what makes it worse.

Tests that may be ordered include:

Your provider may prescribe treatment for your ribcage pain. Treatment depends on the cause.

References

Reynolds JH, Jones H. Thoracic trauma and related topics. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 17.

Tzelepis GE, McCool FD. The respiratory system and chest wall diseases. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 98.


Review Date: 2/7/2019
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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