Rib pain symptoms can be caused by a number of possible diseases and disorders – not just rib injuries like cracked ribs or broken ribs.
In this article, we’ll list some of the most common injuries, conditions, and disorders that cause pain in the ribs symptoms. Even if you see information here that gives you reason to suspect you have one of the conditions described, you should still consult your health care provider to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis.
First, we’ll look at possibilities that may be caused by bone, joint and soft tissue problems.
Rib pain due to some kind of injury is probably more common than any other type. Often, they result from a blow or some kind of impact – during sports competition or a vehicular accident. There’s little mystery regarding the cause. Such injuries are usually easy to see with imaging technology like MRIs or X-rays.
Pain in the ribs is, of course, the most obvious symptom of a broken rib. But someone with this type of rib injury may also have considerable difficulty breathing.
Some ribcage pain may result from injuries to soft tissue surrounding the ribs, like cartilage, tendons and muscles. These may be harder to diagnose. Sometimes, these soft tissue injuries are sore or tender to the touch, and discomfort drawing a deep breath may occur.
A number of diseases and disorders connected to the bones and joints sometimes cause ribcage pain as a symptom. These include osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Several lesser known medical conditions are also characterized by pain in the rib and chest area.
A condition known as osteochondritis dissecans causes pain in areas where your ribs are attached to your backbone and breastbone. It’s occurs when there’s an insufficient blood flow to these areas. This condition is more likely to occur in older children and teenagers, particularly if they play sports.
Costochondritis is a disorder that results in pain that is somewhat similar to osteochondritis dissecans. Costochondritis causes pain in the cartilage that connects the breastbone to the ribs. It is the result of inflammation. Typically, rib pain from costochondritis occurs after a blow or some kind of trauma. It can also be the result of repetitive use, or from trying to lift, push or pull something that’s too heavy.
Nerve problems originating in the spine can also trigger rib pain symptoms. Doctors call this referred pain because the pain is actually originating in another location. It travels along nerve pathways and presents in a completely different place. Very often, a bulging disc or some kind of damage or misalignment in the spinal column causes this type of pain.
Rib pain symptoms can arise as a result of a variety of lung and respiratory disorders.
Pneumonia – An infection of the lungs due to bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi..
Pleurisy – The thin covering that protects and cushions the lungs is known as the pleura. It can become inflamed, and when it does, you can experience severe pain in the ribs.
Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis (commonly known as TB) is an infectious disease that strikes the lungs. Rib pain is a common symptom.
Angina (chest pain from heart disease) – Generalized pain in the ribcage area can result from heart problems, although angina is often most acute in the central chest.
Workers who have been exposed to asbestos for years sometimes contract asbestosis or mesothelioma. Both these are lung diseases which are characterized by rib pain symptoms.
Certain types of cancer can cause rib pain symptoms, especially myeloma and lymphoma.
Whooping cough – Rib pain occurs when this violent cough strains muscles and other soft tissue around the rib cage.
Rib pain is an early symptom of an illness called shingles, which is an extremely painful condition characterized by a skin rash. It is caused by the herpes zoster virus.
Individuals who have occasional panic attacks are sometimes affected by rib pain. Rapid, deep breathing caused by anxiety can pull and strain muscles around the ribcage, which results in discomfort. Such episodes can also lead to serious heart problems and even heart attacks.