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Rib Cage Pain

Are you experiencing pain in your chest? This can be scary, you may even be worried you’re having a heart attack. Sometimes, the pain you’re experiencing in the chest might not be coming from one of your organs. The rib cage as well as the area surrounding them can also cause this pain and discomfort.

Rib cage pain is a common complaint resulting from various factors ranging from a fractured rib to lung cancer. People often complain of rib cage pain to be sudden and sharp or dull and aching.

Usually, cases of rib cage pain are not linked to serious conditions and resolve on their own or with minimal treatment.

People infected with coronavirus often complain of rib pain due to coughing fits. The covid-19 infection causes a huge amount of coughing that can lead to rib joint dysfunctions and persistent pain.

What causes Rib Cage Pain?

Your rib cage plays an important role to protect

  •    Costochondritis: This is also known as Tietze’s syndrome. This is also a common condition that is characterized by inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. The inflammation occurs in the cartilage joining the upper ribs to the sternum known as costosternal joint.

    The pain ranges from mild to severe, including tenderness when touching the affected area. In severe cases, the pain can radiate down the limbs interfering with your daily life. Other symptoms include:

    •    Pain when breathing deeply, coughing, or sneezing
    •    Discomfort in the ribs
    •    Pains and ache around your sternum
  • Most cases of costochondritis resolve without treatment, but others might require medical intervention.

  •    Pleurisy: This is an inflammatory condition affecting the linings of the lungs and chest. The inflammation in the pleura, which is a thin tissue lining the wall of the chest and the lungs. Inflammation causes them to rub, leading to significant pain.

    Pleura is the lining inside of your chest cavity and the outside of your lungs and the area between these layers is known as pleural space. These layers glide smoothly against each other as you inhale and exhale.

    Due to viral infections such as pneumonia, these layers become inflamed. These layers would rub together roughly, causing pain every time you breathe or cough. You might also feel shortness of breath as the fluid gets accumulated in the pleural space.

    The doctor would recommend imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI along with blood tests to determine the underlying cause and to see the fluid built up.

your heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

Rib cage pain can be caused by trauma, injury, or an underlying medical condition. Diagnosis is the key to the treatment of rib cage pain. Some of the common reasons for rib cage pain include:

  •    Injury or trauma: This is the most common cause of rib cage pain. Injury to the chest from falls, traffic collisions, and sports-related contact leads to rib cage pain. Injury or trauma would include:
    •    Broken ribs
    •    Bruised ribs
    •    Fractured ribs
    •    Pulled muscle
  • Injured or broken ribs cause pain when breathing, coughing, twisting, or bending.

    This rib cage pain can be diagnosed with an X-ray to highlight bone breaks and fractures. Imaging tests such as MRIs and other scans can detect soft tissue damage.

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