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Ribcage pain

Pain - ribcage


Ribcage pain includes any pain or discomfort in the area of the ribs.



With a broken rib, the pain is worse when bending and twisting the body. This movement does not cause the pain in someone who has pleurisy (swelling of the lining of the lungs) or muscle spasms.




Ribcage pain may be caused by any of the following:

  • Bruised, cracked, or fractured rib
  • Inflammation of cartilage near the breastbone ( costochondritis )
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pleurisy (the pain is worse when breathing deeply)


Home Care


Rest and not moving the area (immobilization) are the best cures for a ribcage fracture .

Follow your health care provider's instructions for treating the cause of ribcage pain.


When to Contact a Medical Professional


Call for an appointment with your provider if you do not know the cause of the pain, or if it does not go away.


What to Expect at Your Office Visit


Your provider may perform a physical examination. You'll likely be asked about your symptoms, such as when the pain started, its location, the kind of pain you're having, and what makes it worse.

Tests that may be ordered include:

  • Bone scan (if there is a known history of cancer or it is highly suspected)
  • Chest x-ray

Your provider may prescribe treatment for your ribcage pain. Treatment depends on the cause.




Gottschalk A, Ochroch EA. Thoracic pain. In: McMahon SB, Koltzenburg M, Tracey I, Turk DC. Wall & Melzack's Textbook of Pain . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 52.

Reynolds JH, Jones H. Thoracic trauma and related topics. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. New York, NY: Elsevier Churchill-Livingstone; 2015:chap 17.

  • Rib - illustration

    A rib.



    • Rib - illustration

      A rib.



    A Closer Look


      Talking to your MD


        Self Care


          Tests for Ribcage pain



            Review Date: 1/31/2015

            Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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