Rib Pain

The 24 U-shaped bones which make up the ribcage have an intricate system of joints and muscles which hold them together yet allow for expansion of the lungs. The places rib pain is most commonly experienced are underneath the shoulder blades or between the shoulder blades.

Symptoms of rib pain

Pain between the shoulder blades

This is the most common type of rib pain.

  • Pain: Can be a constant ache in a defined area
  • Worse while breathing in: The movement of the ribs can create a sharp pain
  • Hurts to move: A specific bending or twisting movement can aggravate the pain
  • Pain between the shoulder blades: This is the most common manifestation of the complaint.

What causes rib pain?

Self-help for rib pain

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Spasm of an intercostal muscle between the ribs is the most common cause. This can also affect the joints where the ribs meet the spine. Minor injuries can cause a disruption of muscle tone which, over months, or even years, slowly worsens until the symptoms emerge.

What can I do about it?

  • Stretch and breathe: Simple reaching stretches combined with deep breaths will gently release the tension of the muscles in spasm.
  • Adjustment: A medical assessment might suggest that a rib joint is affected, a Chiropractor or Osteopath can easily resolve such problems in one or two visits.
  • Massage: Sometimes helpful yet has only short term results with this issue.

Other causes of pain in the chest

  • Lung problems: Pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pleurisy.
  • Heart problems: Heart attack, angina, pericarditis, aneurysm.
  • Digestive problems: Esophagitis, hiatal hernia.
  • Injury: Broken rib.


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