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Causes of Chronic Rib Pain

Updated on January 23, 2011

Chronic Rib Pain Mystery

Chronic rib pain is actually quite common ailment, more than people realize. Like all chronic issues it can be difficult and downright depressing trying to find the answer and even when you find an answer it many not be guaranteed to be what is bother you.

Figuring out what to do can come down to trying different solutions. In order to assist you in figuring out what to do let's look at some of the common causes of chronic rib pain if there is any I have left out please join in and add them to the comment section at the bottom.

Is Your Rib Pain a Lung Infection?


First Step in Figuring Out Your Rib Pain

Going to the doctor should always be first on the list of things to do to get rid of your pain. What we often don't realize is that even though it may seem like the pain is coming from our ribs it may be coming from something else. Testing is important to rule out other causes or serious conditions.

Some illness that may mimic or cause rib pain:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung Inflammation or Infection
  • Osteoporosis
  • Herpes Zoster (usually one sided)
  • Anxiety
  • If the pain is at the bottom of your ribs or right underneath it is good to have the MD look at you internal organs located in that area such as spleen(left side) or liver(right side)

As you can see there are quite a few things that could seem like rib pain or have rib pain as a symptom so talk it over with your doctor. Ask them what your options are as far as ruling these out. It may be as simple as discussing your symptoms that will give the MD the information they need to enable them to decide what it isn't.

Tip: Before you see the doctor make a list over the course of a few days of all your related symptoms. Symptoms are the clues to investigating illness and pain.

Different Problems With the Ribs Themselves

There are several different types of issues that involve the ribs themselves:

  • Broken Rib
  • Injury to the cartilage between the ribs
  • Sprained Rib
  • Bruised Ribs
  • Costochondritis - inflammation and tenderness of the ribs or the cartilage that connects them usually at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th joints. A common cause of rib or chest pain it is usually treated with anti inflammatory medication supposedly it goes away shortly even without treatment.
  • Tietze's Syndrome- a lot like costochondritis the one major difference is the presence of swelling. Tietze can last a bit longer as well and seem to be more localized. Sometimes blood testing for inflammation will be positive for inflammation as opposed to normal test with costochondritis.

Most rib injuries or inflammation are treated with anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Occasionally persistent rib pain will be treat with steroids or even physical therapy to strengthen other areas of your body to help relieve the ribs. If the pain is severe and you have yet to find the cause consider seeing a pain clinic to help treat the pain while you find the reason behind it. Do not self diagnose since there are many causes of pain in this area.



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      modesto 4 years ago

      I have had two bad bouts with bronchitis with severe coughing...thought I was the only one with chronic posterior (back) rib pain. It's quite what is the remedy if one does exist?

    • profile image

      Kathleen 5 years ago

      I have had chronic posterior (back) rib pain since a bad bout of bronchitis with severe coughing in 1984. It still flares up and medication is of limited help. I am wondering if anyone shares this kind of pain.

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      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A detailed Hub and I learned something form this Hub thanks

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Right Rib pain, sore spots when certain areas of the ribs are touched. Lower ribs