Back Rib Pain
Pain in the back ribs can happen for many reasons. It can result from an injury, such as muscle strain or fractured rib, but it can also be a sign of a more serious condition, such as osteoporosis, gallstones, or a lung condition. The pain may be sharp or dull and mild or severe.
Often, the pain resolves without intervention, but it can sometimes indicate a more serious medical condition that requires specialist care. This is more likely if the pain is intense or there are other symptoms. This article looks at some common causes of pain in the back of the ribs, as well as the associated symptoms and typical treatments.
Injuries can cause back rib pain. Common rib-related injuries include:
bruised ribspulled muscles fractures broken ribs
If pain after an injury is lasting or severe, the cause may be a broken rib. To diagnose this injury, a doctor may use an X-ray or MRI, Treatment options vary. Many people with broken ribs just need rest and pain relief medication. Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary, but only in severe cases.
sharp, severe pain in the upper back or ribsstiffness and tension in the upper back musclesspasms in the intercostal muscles
To treat this type of strain, doctors often recommend pain medication and physical therapy, Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that holds the ribs together. It is a common condition, particularly in adults aged 40–50, and it causes pain in the chest wall, sometimes at the back of the ribs.
heat therapylocal or oral pain medicationscapsaicin creamphysical therapy
For many people with costochondritis, the issue improves in a few weeks, However, because the symptoms can be similar to those of a heart condition, it is vital to speak with a doctor. Preexisting conditions, such as osteoporosis, can weaken the ribs so that they break more easily, often during less intensive activities.
- Osteoporosis causes the bones to lose the minerals that they need to stay strong.
- With a low mineral density, bones can fracture spontaneously or when the person is coughing.
- It is a common condition in older adults, especially in females.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 12.6% of adults over 50 had osteoporosis in 2017–2018.
The figure for females only was 19.6%. The symptoms of osteoporosis include soreness and pain. Healthcare professionals often diagnose the issue with X-rays. They may also test a person’s kidney and thyroid function. Some treatment options for osteoporosis include:
doing gentle strength trainingreducing alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, if applicabletaking calcium and vitamin D3 supplementstaking medications that reduce the risk of fractures
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain in the muscles and bones. People may also have specific tender points. Researchers are unsure what causes it, but it is more common in females than in males. Beyond the pain, fibromyalgia often occurs with:
fatigue headaches paresthesia, which is a numb or burning sensation, usually in the extremities depression anxiety cognitive disturbances, such as problems processing and remembering information
Because fibromyalgia has such diverse symptoms, doctors may recommend a variety of interventions, including:
improving sleep quality practicing relaxation techniquesstarting cognitive behavioral therapy getting regular cardiovascular exercisetaking medications, including antidepressants and anticonvulsants
Gallstones are hardened deposits in the gallbladder, They sometimes cause no symptoms, but they can also move and block the ducts of the gallbladder, leading to problems. Gallstones can cause pain, especially when they block ducts. The classic presentation is pain in the upper right part of the stomach, under or around the ribs.
- Some people also feel the pain in their back, such as between their shoulder blades.
- The pain may be intense, though it is mild for some people.
- It usually develops shortly after a meal and lasts for a few hours,
- A person may also have nausea and vomiting or jaundice,
- This yellowing of the eyes and skin signals that the gallstones are affecting the liver.
It may also cause dark urine. A blocked gallbladder duct can become a medical emergency. Anyone with gallstones should receive prompt medical attention for any intense abdominal pain, especially if there is jaundice. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood vessel in a lung is blocked, often by a blood clot.
A person may initially notice pain and swelling in one leg when the clot blocks a blood vessel there. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs. Pulmonary embolisms are serious and relatively common. Research shows that they are responsible for around 100,000 deaths per year in the United States, and this figure is rising.
Aside from pain in the back of the ribs, a pulmonary embolism can cause the following symptoms:
coughing, which may bring up blood sweatingheadaches and lightheadednessshortness of breathrapid breathinganxietyan irregular heartbeat
A pulmonary embolism is a life threatening emergency that requires immediate treatment. Typically, treatment involves blood thinning medication, which makes it harder for clots to form. A person who cannot tolerate this approach receives a different medication that prevents the blood from clotting.
Certain health conditions that affect the lungs can also cause back rib pain. For example, pleurisy, or inflammation of the lining of the lungs, can cause pain in the chest, shoulders, and back ribs. Researchers know that several underlying issues can cause pleurisy. For this reason, the treatments are varied.
Lung cancer can also cause pain in the chest and ribs. It is life threatening and a leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. Other symptoms of lung cancer include coughing, which may bring up blood, and shortness of breath. The best course of treatment depends on the cancer’s type and stage, as well as factors specific to each individual.
The pain worsens.It remains after a few days of home treatment.It limits the ability to move.It occurs with a fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, or other symptoms.
People who think that they may have gallstones should call a healthcare professional and ask if their symptoms are signs of an emergency. But anyone with intense gallstone pain should go to an emergency room. In general, seek emergency treatment if:
The pain is so severe that it limits the ability to function.It occurs with jaundice.It occurs with trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pain.The person feels very sick.Any symptoms rapidly worsen over several hours.
Minor injuries can cause pain in the back ribs. These injuries are not usually dangerous, and they often heal on their own. However, this pain can also stem from a more serious health condition. This is especially likely if the pain is very intense, comes on suddenly, with no clear cause, or occurs with other symptoms.
- 1 Why does my right side of my back hurt below my ribs?
- 2 What causes back and right rib pain?
- 3 Can back pain be felt under ribs?
- 4 Why won’t my rib pain go away?
- 5 Why do my ribs hurt under my breast?
- 6 Can you strain a rib in your back?
- 7 Why do ribs hurt for so long?
- 8 What heals rib pain?
How long does back rib pain last?
Things you can do yourself – Broken or bruised ribs heal in the same way and usually get better by themselves within 3 to 6 weeks. There are some things you can do to help ease pain and speed up healing:
How long can muscular rib pain last?
Physical therapy – PT may involve various stretches to strengthen intercostal muscles, foam roller stretches, and deep breathing exercises. If difficult or painful breathing occurs, deep breathing exercises are often ordered to improve a person’s shallow breathing.
- Long-term shallow breathing can lead to complications, such as pneumonia.
- A person with intercostal muscle strain should not do any stretching exercise unless under the supervision of a physical therapist or other healthcare providers.
- Stretching should be stopped immediately if it increases pain or makes symptoms worse.
Mild intercostal muscle strain commonly heals within a few days. Moderate strains may take 3 to 7 weeks to heal, and severe strains that involve a complete tear of the muscles can take longer. In general, most intercostal muscle sprains should heal within a 6-week time span.
Why does my right side of my back hurt below my ribs?
Pelvic pain during pregnancy – Some people experience pelvic pain during pregnancy. Pelvic pain can affect one or both sides of the lower back. This pain may also affect the perineum or radiate to the thighs. It may become worse while a person is walking, standing up, or rolling onto their side. A person may be able to reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy by:
doing exercises that strengthen the pelvic floorstretchingtaking warm bathswearing flat, comfortable shoesavoiding standing for too longgetting plenty of rest
People can also try applying ice or heat packs to help ease the pain. OTC acetaminophen is generally safe to take during pregnancy. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking any medications while pregnant. Testicular torsion can cause back pain on the lower right side in males.
severe and unexpected pain in the testicle or groinpain that radiates to the right or left side of the backswelling of the scrotumnauseavomitingblood in the semenpain in the low abdomen
Testicular torsion is a medical emergency, and anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Treatment involves a surgical procedure to either untwist the spermatic cord or remove the testicle. People with severe, persistent, or worsening lower back pain should consult a doctor right away.
painful urinationcloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urinestools containing blood or pusfevernauseavomitingpain during or after sexsevere groin pain irregular periods
Lower back pain is very common, Possible causes of lower back pain on the right side include sprains and strains, kidney stones, infections, and conditions that affect the intestines or reproductive organs. People should consult a doctor if they experience lower back pain that does not improve with rest or affects their daily life.
What causes back and right rib pain?
How To Treat Pain Around Rib and Back – You can treat pain around the rib and back with many natural remedies, depending on what is causing it. Natural remedies work wonders in treating mild pain around ribs and back symptoms. But if these methods don’t work, your doctor may suggest you go for a surgical procedure or orthobiologic treatments that are not invasive.
Can back pain be felt under ribs?
How Can The Pain Be Treated? Juan’s Story – Juan’s pain around the ribs and back symptoms with spasms began in 2007, and he presented to our clinic in 2020. Any movement, rotation, or flexion/extension made the pain worse, while rest and medication made the pain better.
- Previously, he had tried ozone injections, steroid injections, and facet injections, which provided temporary relief.
- Radiofrequency ablation at the T8-T11 facet joints provided relief for only about six to eight months.
- He had also developed tingling in his right ring finger and pinkie, pain in his right elbow, and weakness in his right hand.
This was likely coming from irritation of the brachial plexus by his ribs. We approached Juan’s problems differently, looking at what was causing all of these issues. In particular, one of the ligaments in the back of his spinal canal (ligamentum flavum) was loose and buckling, which was irritating nerves.
- Hence, we concentrated his own blood platelets (platelet-rich plasma) to inject into that specific ligament to cause some healing and tightening.
- In addition, we treated the irritated thoracic nerves by injecting a platelet lysate around the nerves (epidural using X-ray guidance ).
- Finally, his facet joints had previously been treated with radiofrequency, which burns the nerve that communicates pain from the joint.
Because of this, nobody had ever tried helping the joint with substances that can promote healing. So again I carefully injected high-dose platelet-rich plasma into those joints using sophisticated image guidance technology. How did he do? He’s reporting 90% relief, with pain only during certain activities.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit that can cause pain around the ribs and back symptoms. The first order of business is getting an accurate diagnosis of why you hurt, which is what we did with Juan. Rather than injecting Juan with steroids that could harm tissue or burn nerves, we focused on the root cause of his problems and tried to improve the function of the spine.
_ Learn about Regenexx procedures for spine conditions.
Why won’t my rib pain go away?
What is rib cage pain? – In general, rib pain makes it hard for you to take a deep breath, twist your body or put pressure on your chest. A range of conditions can cause sore ribs, include a pulled muscle, bruised or broken rib, or even acid reflux. Broken ribs are quite common and can take six weeks to six months to heal.
Why do my ribs hurt under my breast?
Costochondritis: The Most Common Cause of Breast Pain – Perhaps the most common cause of localized “breast pain” is costochondritis – inflammation in the ribs behind the breast. This may be due to increased physical activity or trauma, but often there is no known cause.
The pain may be constant and achy or intermittent and sharp, but is always associated with tenderness over specific trigger points on the affected ribs, usually near the center of the chest. Because the pain is originating directly behind the breast, it often feels as though it is coming from the breast itself.
This condition may resolve without treatment, but is similar to mild arthritis and can be treated with a short course of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Only rarely is breast pain the first symptom of a breast cancer, but a careful medical history, clinical breast exam, and updated breast imaging with mammography and ultrasound, when necessary, are always appropriate, particularly if there is no obvious explanation for the pain.
A trial of symptom treatment is often successful even in the absence of a definite diagnosis, and most women will find a comfortable way to manage their symptoms even if they do not completely resolve. However, consultation with a breast specialist is indicated anytime there is an ongoing or specific breast concern.
Learn more about treatment for benign breast disease and breast cancer at Fox Chase.
Can you strain a rib in your back?
An intercostal muscle strain refers to a muscle injury between two or more ribs. The intercostal muscles, commonly referred to simply as the intercostals, connect the ribs and help make up the chest wall. When these muscles overstretch or tear, they can cause significant pain in the mid- and upper back.
Can you have back and rib pain without injury?
Rib pain without traumatic injury may be due to muscular strain, joint inflammation, or a pain syndrome of unknown cause. Some systemic illness such as autoimmune disorders or fibromyalgia also cause rib pain.
Why do ribs hurt for so long?
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We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness. Pain in the rib cage can result from injury or an underlying medical condition. Treatment may depend on the cause of the pain. Rib cage pain may be sharp, dull, or achy and felt at or below the chest or above the navel on either side.
It may occur after an obvious injury or without explanation. Rib cage pain can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from pulled muscles to a rib fracture. The pain may occur immediately upon injury or develop slowly over time. It can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. You should report any instance of unexplainable rib cage pain to your doctor immediately.
The most common causes of rib cage pain are a pulled muscle or bruised ribs, Other causes of pain in the rib cage area may include:
broken ribs injuries to the chestrib fracturesdiseases that affect the bones, such as osteoporosis inflammation of the lining of the lungs muscle spasms swollen rib cartilage
When talking to your doctor, describe the type of pain you’re experiencing and the movements that make the pain worse. The type of pain you’re experiencing as well as 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 might order an imaging scan such as an X-ray, A chest X-ray can show evidence of fractures or bone abnormalities. Rib-detail X-rays are also helpful. If any abnormalities, such as an abnormal growth, show up on your X-ray or during your physical examination, your doctor will order a soft tissue imaging scan, such as an MRI,
An MRI scan gives the doctor a detailed view of your rib cage and surrounding muscles, organs, and tissue. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, your doctor may order a bone scan. Your doctor will order a bone scan if they feel that bone cancer may be causing the pain.
For this examination, they will inject you with a small amount of radioactive dye called a tracer. Your doctor will then use a special camera to scan your body for the tracer. The image from this camera will highlight any bone abnormalities. The recommended 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 bruise, you can use a cold compress on the area to reduce swelling. If you’re in significant pain, you can also take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- If over-the-counter medicine doesn’t relieve pain from an injury, your doctor can prescribe other medications, as well as a compression wrap,
- A compression wrap is a large, elastic bandage that wraps around your chest.
- The compression wrap holds the area tightly to prevent further injury and greater pain.
However, these wraps are only necessary in rare cases because the tightness of the compression wrap makes it difficult to breathe. This can increase your risk of pneumonia, If bone cancer is causing the pain, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you based on the type of cancer and origin of the cancer.
Determining the origin of the cancer will you’re your doctor whether it started in the rib or spread from another area of the body. Your doctor may suggest surgery to remove or biopsy abnormal growths. In some cases, surgical removal isn’t possible or may be too dangerous. In these cases, your doctor may choose to shrink them using chemotherapy or radiation therapy,
Once the growth is small enough, they may then remove it surgically. Rib cage pain may be apparent with no movement. You may also experience sharp pain when breathing in or when moving into a certain position. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe pain when breathing in or moving your body into a specific position, or if you have any difficulty breathing,
- If you feel pressure or have pain in your chest along with rib cage discomfort, call 911.
- These symptoms may be the sign of an impending heart attack,
- If you’ve recently fallen and you have difficulty and pain while breathing, along with significant bruising in your chest area, call 911 immediately as well.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor or a specialist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool, You can prevent rib cage pain due to muscle strains or sprains by stretching your muscles, using exercise equipment properly, and staying hydrated.
Is my rib pain serious?
3. Pleurisy – Lining the inside of your chest cavity and the outside of your lungs are two layers of tissue called ; the area between these layers is called the pleural space. The layers generally glide against each other smoothly as you inhale and exhale.
- With pleurisy, the layers become inflamed due to a viral infection, or other medical condition and rub together roughly, causing pain every time you breathe or cough.
- Fluid may also collect in the pleural space, causing shortness of breath.
- Telltale sign : Doctors can actually hear the membranes rubbing together, called a friction rub, when they listen to your chest with a stethoscope.
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may order imaging or blood tests to help determine the underlying cause of the pleurisy and to see if fluid has built up. If it has, the fluid may need to be drained. If the fluid is a result of a bacterial infection, you’ll be given antibiotics.
- If it’s from a virus, it may have to run its course, but over-the-counter pain relievers may help to reduce your symptoms.
- With any rib cage pain, if you can’t breathe, your skin turns blue or you have severe chest pain, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away.
- Our family medicine doctors deliver high-quality health care for every stage of your life.
We offer vaccinations, perform screening exams, manage your chronic medical issues, treat injuries and more. Topics : 3 Reasons You Might Have Rib Cage Pain
What heals rib pain?
How are rib fractures treated? – How your rib fracture is treated depends on the severity of the original break. Your broken bones need to heal back together. If any of your organs were damaged during a trauma, you might need to stay in the hospital while those injuries are repaired.
Most rib fractures can be treated with rest, icing and over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Your provider will tell you how often to ice your injury, but in general, you can ice your ribs for 20 minutes at a time a few times a day. You’ll probably need to do some breathing exercises or cough on purpose every few hours while you’re recovering.
This helps prevent pneumonia and keeps your lungs and chest moving like they usually do. Pressing a pillow to your injured ribs can help cushion any pain during your breathing exercises.
How do you get rid of rib pain naturally?
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You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail. It can be frustrating to know that there’s little to do to treat costochondritis. But self-care measures, such as the following, might help.
Nonprescription pain relievers. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) may be helpful. Topical pain relievers. These include creams, gels, patches and sprays. They may contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or numbing medications. Some varieties contain capsaicin, the substance that makes hot peppers spicy. Heat or ice. Try placing hot compresses or a heating pad on the painful area several times a day. Keep the heat on a low setting. Ice also might be helpful. Rest. Avoid or modify activities that might worsen pain.