Pain in ribs - the causes, nature, treatment

The nature of pain in left rib may resemble cardiac pain. Often to understand the nature of the disease can only a professional doctor.

Rib pain can have a different character. It can be acute, pricking, or prolonged, aching, pulling. May bother the patient continuously, or it occurs in certain situations (during exercise, at a certain position of the body, etc.).

The causes diagnostics and treatment of pain in the ribs do, depending on the nature of the disease, the following doctors:

  • thoracic surgeon;
  • trauma;
  • therapist;
  • podiatrist;
  • neurologist.

Pathology directly edges

Injuries to the ribs

pathology in the ribs

Pain in ribs is a characteristic symptom of their injuries. Most often they happen during a fall or impact.

The severity of pain and other symptoms depends on type of injury:

  1. With injury there is a sharp but not severe pain in my ribs on the right or left, depending on the type of injury, which then becomes sore, and then completely goes away. At the site of injury occurs swelling and a bruise, it hurts to touch it. Appearance of the patient and severity of pain is not always possible to determine exactly what injury without fracture. Helps clarify the picture of the CT scan.
  2. Rib fracture – a serious injury that is accompanied by pain in the ribs during inhalation and moves. At the time of injury there is a sharp pain that remain for a long time strong enough and can spread to the entire chest. There are three types of rib fractures:
  • crack is the most harmless kind of injury is simple fracture of the ribs;
  • subperiosteal fracture – a broken rib, but the periosteum remains intact, which surrounds it - thus, the pieces remain in place;
  • full rib fracture in itself is not very dangerous, but the sharp edges fragments may damage the lungs and other internal organs;
  • complicated rib fractures: fracture of several ribs, a comminuted fracture – the most serious type of injury that causes a very severe pain in my ribs, shock States and various complications.

In addition to pain in the ribs, fractures may occur in the following signs:

  • pain becomes stronger during deep breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, changes in body position, physical activity;
  • sometimes the patient is breathing and heartbeat, his skin becomes bluish tint;
  • if the pieces ribs hurt easy, there is hemoptysis;
  • in the complete fracture and displacement of the thoracic wall at the site of injury there is a bump.

Patients with acute severe pain in my ribs and a suspected fracture must be taken to the emergency room, which make the inspection and perform x-rays. In most cases, the treatment prescribed pressure bandage, which restricts respiratory movements, reduces pain and promotes faster healing. When damage to internal organs and fractures can be shown the operation.

Malignant tumors

Among malignant bone tumours that affect mainly the ribs, occur most frequently osteosarcoma. There are several varieties of this disease, they can occur at almost any age.

Malignant tumors of the ribs may manifest the following signs:

  • long-term chronic rib pain which may be aching, pulling, stabbing, constant, or occur under certain conditions;
  • characteristic night pain in the rib area, especially when the patient lies in a certain position;
  • sometimes the tumor exists for a long time without any symptoms, and the pain starts to bother after a minor injury (which in this case is the precipitating factor) - in this case, the patient often relates the occurrence of pain on account of injury and a long time unaware that there is a completely different disease;
  • in a place where there is pain, you can see the swelling, unevenness, to probe the bump, which corresponds to the tumor.

The basic principle of diagnosis of malignant tumors of ribs biopsy. In the world of medical practice, there is a rule that the study should be conducted for all people who have a suspicion of a malignant neoplasm of the ribs.

Treatment of osteosarcoma is in the cancer hospitals, subject to the General principles of management of malignant tumors.

Osteoporosis of ribs

Osteoporosis is a disease that develops as a result of decrease of calcium content in the bone tissue, strengthening the processes of bone destruction and reduce its ability to recover. This pathology can also be accompanied by pain in the ribs. Osteoporosis is most often due to aging, metabolic and endocrine disorders, insufficient intestinal absorption of calcium and vitamin D.

For a long time, osteoporosis may have no symptoms. Ribs and other bones lose calcium, but still retain sufficient strength.

But then there are pains that generally have the following origin:

  • rib pain and back pain result from the fact that in the bone tissue of the ribs and the vertebrae there is a large number of microscopic fractures, there is an irritation of the periosteum, and in it, as you know, there is a large number of nerve endings;
  • sharp pain in the back occurs as a result of compression of the vertebrae;
  • acute severe pain in the chest may be associated with rib fracture: the so-called pathological fracture, which can occur at minimum load due to the fact that the bone becomes more fragile;
  • patients with osteoporosis have disorders of posture, and sometimes very pronounced deformation of the spine and thorax, their growth may decrease to 10 – 15 cm.

Most often the pain is very strong, causing the patient severe suffering. Suffer disability, reduced quality of life, disturbed sleep, and then depression.

Cause of pain in the ribs is established after examination and x-rays. The treatment is carried out in the hospital and then at home, with the use of appropriate drugs.

Which doctor to contact if you have rib pain?

to what doctor to address the pain in the ribs

Pain in ribs may be due to different conditions and diseases that are diagnosed and treated by doctors of different specialties. Accordingly, when the rib pain, you must contact the doctors of various specialties in the field of professional competence which includes diagnosis and treatment of disease. To understand, to what doctor it is necessary to apply in the case of rib pain, help associated symptoms and character of pain.

If the pain in the ribs is present for a long time, pains have the character of pulling, aching, or stabbing usually present all the time, amplify or arise at night in a certain position, there may be swelling or inequality at any point of the chest, shortness of breath, pain combined with deterioration of General health, it indicates the presence of cancer and therefore requires treatment to the doctor-oncologist (be recorded).

If the person concerned often have pain in the bones (ribs, sternum, bones of the pelvis, etc.), wanton deterioration of posture, growth reduction, and the inability to do some torso twists due to the resulting very strong back pain, the doctor suggests osteoporosis, and in this case it is necessary, first of all, consult a podiatrist. If, in addition to osteoporosis, people suffering from any endocrine diseases (e.g., obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease), then, in addition to orthopedic traumatologist, at the same time to address to the endocrinologist (to enroll). If on the background of osteoporosis in humans have problems with joints, they should apply simultaneously to the doctor podiatrist and a rheumatologist (be recorded).

What tests and examinations may be prescribed by a doctor for pain in the groin.

Since rib pain provoked various diseases and conditions, doctors prescribe various tests and examinations for a given symptom to identify the disease. Selection of the necessary diagnostic tests are carried out on the basis of the related rib pain symptoms and allow the doctor to assume what the disease provokes pain. Next, to validate their assumptions, the doctor prescribes tests and instrumental examinations. Thus, it is clear that specific set and a list of tests and surveys with pain in the rib in each specific case is determined by the corresponding symptoms.

When rib pain appear after a traumatic impact to the chest (punch, kick, strong compression, etc.), and thus felt at one particular point or bottled at whole chest, worse during inspiration, exhalation, sneezing, coughing, change of posture, physical activity, possibly combined with the bruise, the doctor involves damage to the bones and can assign the following tests and examinations:

  • General analysis of blood;
  • Chest x-ray (to be recorded);
  • Computer or magnetic-resonant tomography of the chest (to enroll).

In practice, usually only prescribed a General blood test and chest x-ray, as these surveys are simple in execution, available in any hospital and clinic and can detect damage to the edges (crack, fracture, etc.) in the vast majority of cases. A computer or magnetic-resonant tomography are assigned only in case of uncertain nature of damage and involvement in soft tissue injuries.

With the appearance of sharp, acute pain in the ribs or in the chest that intensifies with time, becoming very strong and hardly portable, able to spread in the arm, neck and under the shoulder blade, combined with the swelling in the joints of ribs and sternum, the doctor suspects Tietze's syndrome and assigns the following tests and examinations:

  • General analysis of blood;
  • Biochemical analysis of blood;
  • Chest ultrasound;
  • Chest x-ray;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging;
  • Computed tomography;
  • Scintigraphy;
  • Biopsy (to enroll).

As a rule, when Tietze's syndrome, the doctor is limited to appointment only General and biochemical blood analysis, ultrasound examination and makes a diagnosis based on characteristic clinical symptoms. However, if in a medical institution have the technical ability, also is assigned to a computer or magnetic-resonant tomography, which allows, first, to confirm the diagnosis, and secondly, immediately check the bones for the presence of malignant tumors.

If the doctor suspects that a person may be a tumor in the bones, and not Tietze's syndrome, is an obligatorily x-ray or computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging or scintigraphy.

X-ray of the chest in the absence of the suspected tumor is usually assigned only in the case if the onset of disease, the last 2 – 3 months or more, as in the earlier stages of the disease the study does not give information and, therefore, useless. However, if the doctor suspects that the person may not be Tietze's syndrome, a malignant bone tumor, chest x-ray is assigned on a mandatory basis, as this study helps to differentiate tumor and inflammation of the rib cartilage.

Biopsy of the protrusions is assigned only in the case if the results of the x-ray, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging or scintigraphy revealed a tumor. In this case, protrusions with a long needle to take a small amount of tissue and examine them under a microscope. Depending on the type of detectable tumor cells, revealed the type of cancer and the question of the tactics of therapy.

When rib pain lasts for a long time, did not subside, but only gradually increase over time, have the nature-aching or stabbing, may increase at night in a certain position, maybe combined with the swelling or inequality on some part of the chest, shortness of breath, deterioration of General health, the doctor suspects a malignant neoplasm of the bone ribs and assigns the following tests and examinations:

  • General analysis of blood;
  • Biochemical analysis of blood;
  • Coagulation (clotting of blood) (to enroll);
  • Chest x-ray;
  • Magnetic resonance or computer tomography;
  • Scintigraphy ribs;
  • A biopsy of the suspicious tissues the tumors and a histological examination.



In most diseases that manifest in the form of pain in the ribs, apply symptomatic therapy, which includes painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In parallel, the attending doctor prescribes tools that help to cope with the main cause of the disease. Before applying you should consult with a specialist.