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Ribcage pain


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

Alternative Names:

Pain - ribcage


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:

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.

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.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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