Pain All the Way Around Rib Cage

The rib cage makes up ribs that are put in curves around the chest and join with the help of soft tissues at the breastbone in the front and the spinal column at the back. The important organs like heart, lungs and other associated structures are well protected inside the rib cage.

Pain All the Way Around Rib Cage

Rib cage pain is often experienced as pain or pain in the area surrounding the rib cage. It can be dull aching or in some cases even sharp as if being stabbed. It generally happens in the area of the rib cage and around it or listed below the chest.

There are different causes for pain around rib cage and the presentation of symptoms likewise varies inning accordance with the cause. In the majority of the less severe cases, the pain around rib cage results from stretched muscles due to coughing, overstretching or postural modifications. However, often the rib cage pain can be severe and may be due to more serious causes, which requires instant examination. It is required to look for medical viewpoint for a thorough evaluation to determine the precise reason for rib cage pain and begin proper treatment in time.

What Causes Rib Cage Pain?

Pain around rib cage can appear after a fall, after being hurt or sometimes without any apparent description. The rib pain can appear right away after the physical injury or may establish a little later. Injury to the rib cage area varies from muscle strain to a rib fracture, which might need instant medical attention; thus it is important to assess the pain in time and take the essential action.

As a general factor to consider, in physical injuries of the ribs, the pain aggravates with increased physical movements like bending or twisting. These movements might not necessarily cause pain in case of rib cage pain being due to other reasons like breathing system or basic muscle convulsions.

Some Of The Common Causes Of Pain Around Rib Cage Include

  • Injuries to the rib or chest like bruising, fracture or fracture of the rib
  • Swelling, strain or spasms of the muscles supporting the rib cage
  • Inflammation of the cartilage or soft tissue in the middle of the rib cage at the breast bone, which is called as costochondritis is also understood to cause rib cage pain.
  • Pain, inflammation and stiffness of muscles like in fibromyalgia can cause pain around rib cage
  • Rib cage pain might be due to illness of the bones like osteoporosis
  • Diseases of the lungs like swelling of the lung lining (pleurisy), bronchitis, COPD or other respiratory conditions can cause pain around rib cage
  • Cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease, heart anomalies, etc also can cause pain around rib cage
  • Malignancies like bone cancer, lung cancer and others
  • Rib cage pain might be due to Gastrointestinal causes like gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatus hernia, peptic ulcer, and so on

What Are The Associated Symptoms Of Rib Cage Pain?

Rib cage pain, in itself is a symptom of an underlying problem or disease. The associated symptoms can assist in understanding the reason for the pain around rib cage and appropriate treatment can be prepared. It is important to make a note of other symptoms, which can be co-related with medical evaluation for correct diagnosis.

Associated symptoms differ depending upon the underlying cause. There might be abdominal pain, queasiness, vomiting in case of intestinal causes of rib cage pain. Fever, body pains or cough, might exist in case of respiratory infections causing pain around rib cage. Rib pain may in some cases likewise extend to arms, shoulders or to the back. Pain may be increased with movement of shoulders; twisting or flexing of the body.
Symptoms like sharp pain on breathing, trouble in breathing, modifications in skin, nail or lip color, lightheadedness or changes in level of alertness may require instant medical attention.

Also read: Rib pain from coughing

How Is Rib Cage Pain Diagnosed?

Depending upon the history, associated symptoms and scientific assessment, your doctor might order investigations like

  • An X-ray to spot fracture or other bony modifications
  • An MRI to discover further information of the bone, surrounding tissues, unusual growth or a bone scan if cancer is believed.
  • Other laboratory tests may be ordered for respiratory infections or other causes.

What Are The Treatment Options For Rib Cage Pain?

The treatment technique too depends on the cause of the rib cage pain and the accurate diagnosis. For injury to the muscles triggering rib cage pain, anti-inflammatory medications and cold compresses may be given. Treatment for fractured ribs consists of rest, immobilization and sometimes a plaster or splint may be encouraged. For other causes of pain around rib cage, suitable medications to treat respiratory infections, lung illness and gastrointestinal problems are given.

What Are The Possible Complications Of Rib Cage Pain?

As the cause for pain around rib cage differ, so do the outcome and possible complications if left without treatment. A few of the possible complications consist of injury to internal organs, cardiac arrest, breathing failure, minimized oxygen supply and shock.
Whatever may be the cause; timely examination, early medical diagnosis and proper treatment can help in minimizing the risk of life threatening complications that can occur from unattended cases of rib cage pain.


Last modified: March 15, 2017

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