Rib cage pain

What is Rib Cage Pain?

Pain in the rib cage can vary in sensation and location because of several possible causes.

The following areas may be causing you pain or a dull ache:

  • Under your left rib cage

  • Under your right rib cage

  • At the top, middle (sternum) or bottom of your rib cage


You may also experience the following symptoms in addition to the initial pain:

  • Pressure throughout your chest area

  • Shortness of breath or pain when taking a deep breath or coughing

  • Discomfort when in certain positions

  • Tender to touch areas of your chest

  • Pain during exercise


To accurately determine the source of your pain, a doctor will need to discuss your symptoms with you. Your rib cage includes both the ribs and muscles that unite them, and both can be potential sources of discomfort.


If you're feeling any pain in your rib cage, it may be caused by a medical condition that affects your heart or lungs. If you're concerned, seeking medical help is essential, so we recommend talking to one of our online doctors immediately.

What are the causes of Rib Cage Pain?

The following symptoms characterise heart attacks:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Chest pain towards the middle and left side of your chest

  • Nausea and dizziness

  • Pain throughout your jaw, arms and shoulders


The risk of heart attacks increases with age, particularly in people with underlying heart conditions. Here are some of the more common causes of rib cage pain:

  • Broken, fractured or bruised ribs- If you experience sudden pain or pain following an accident or injury, it is essential to mention it to a doctor as this could be an indicative cause of the pain.

  • Muscles between the ribs that are pulled or inflamed

  • Pleurisy: The inflammation of the linings of the chest and lungs, known as Pleurisy, can cause rib cage pain as the two rubs painfully against each other.

  • Lung conditions Rib cage pain may be a symptom of illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia, but it can also indicate more serious conditions like lung cancer. Other signs of lung cancer include coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and intense pain when coughing, laughing, or sneezing.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is cartilage inflammation connecting the ribs to the sternum, causing pain in the rib cage area. Symptoms include

  • Pain when breathing deeply or coughing or sneezing.

  • Rib discomfort

  • The area around your sternum is painful and achy.


Costochondritis, usually caused by minor injury or strain and self-resolving, should be monitored in case of persistent pain. If pain persists, medical attention should be sought.


If you're worried about your symptoms, you can contact one of our doctors today at your home.

What is Tietze’s Syndrome?

Costochondritis and Tietze’s Syndrome share many similarities. However, Tietze’s Syndrome is more focused, and the area of inflammation may be accompanied by visible swelling.

What causes Rib Pain during pregnancy?

Rib pain is frequent during pregnancy, particularly in the later stages. It can be experienced throughout all three trimesters.

Pregnancy rib pain is caused by:

  • Stretching your muscles

  • The baby is kicking your ribs


However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should contact a doctor as soon as you can:

  • Nausea

  • Bleeding

  • Dizziness

  • Seeing spots


It is a sign of a more severe condition, such as preeclampsia.


Although it is unlikely that rib pain during pregnancy indicates a more severe condition, it is still important to speak to a doctor if you are experiencing this symptom. Our doctors are available to talk to you and discuss your symptoms.

Should you see a doctor about Rib Cage Pain?

It is essential to speak with a doctor if you are experiencing rib cage pain that cannot be linked to a recent injury. Getting a diagnosis to ensure the pain is adequately treated is essential.


Rib cage pain can have a variety of potential causes, some of which can be treated quickly and effectively to relieve the discomfort. Fortunately, many of these causes are not severe.


If you are experiencing pain in your rib cage, please reach out to one of our doctors as soon as possible. Early detection of more severe conditions, such as lung cancer, can help to minimise the harm they cause. We are here to help and can arrange a time for you to discuss your symptoms with one of our specialists.

What are the treatments for Rib Cage Pain?

Depending on your diagnosis, you will receive the appropriate treatment.


Bruised, fractured or broken ribs will typically heal on their own over time. Pain relief and rest from strenuous activity is recommended while they heal. Ice should be applied to the affected area to reduce swelling until the swelling has subsided.


If your doctor suspects your rib pain is a symptom of an underlying illness, they may order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will discuss treatment options specific to your condition.


Our doctors are available every day of the year to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing and, when appropriate, prescribe medication to lessen your symptoms.



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