Left Rib Pain

Is Left Rib Pain Particularly Significant?

While the cause of left rib pain can simply be the result of a bruised or cracked rib, the location and type of pain may indicate that something else is wrong. That doesn't mean that what's wrong is necessarily serious enough to require treatment. Pregnant women for example, can experience rib pain which is felt either on the right side or the left side. This is for all practical purposes a normal, if uncomfortable situation.


There are several conditions in which rib pain can be a symptom, and in which at times only left rib pain is felt. Rib pain can be brought on by a digestive problem such as constipation. A cold virus may have settled in the area of the left part of the rib cage, or severe coughing as the result of a cold or the flu will sometimes result in a cracked rib. Here the pain may occur on either the left or the right side. When the pain is confined to the left side, it may be indicative of a gastrointestinal problem. Heartburn is sometimes accompanied by left rib pain, felt underneath the rib cage. A condition called ankylosing spondylitits causes inflammation of the rib cage, primarily on the left side, as can pancreatitis and inflammation of the spleen. Heart problems can at times cause rib pain on the left side of the body.

Many Things Can Go Wrong - The very nature of the rib cage makes rib pain, including left rib pain, a possibility when any of the organs the ribs enclose are having problems. The rib cage, made up of bones and cartilage, is closely tied to the respiratory process, expanding and contracting as we breathe. The rib cage is an integral part of what we call the thoracic wall, which besides the ribs, includes the sternum, the thoracic vertebrae, and attachments to muscle systems of the neck, abdomen, and back. Anything that is out of order with any of these parts can easily translate into rib pain.


Pregnancy, The Most Common Cause - The person who tends to suffer from rib pain the most is the pregnant woman. Carrying a baby puts tremendous pressure and stress on parts of the female body, including the ribs. As the baby grows, in particular during the third trimester, it is not unusual for it to put pressure on the ribs. Depending on how the baby is positioned in the womb, a the pregnant woman can experience either left rib pain or right rib pain, and less frequently, pain on both sides. The pain is usually most severe when the woman is in a seated position, and the baby is pressed upwards towards the rib cage.

Breathing, Stretching, And Posture - There is no medical treatment for this type of pain, but there are several approaches that can help minimize and at times prevent it. Correct posture can help, and a pregnant woman might consider attending prenatal yoga classes as a means of working with the various positions which strengthen the muscles of the back and the rib cage. Stretching exercises are also beneficial, as are breathing exercises. Sitting in a chair with a straight back often provides some relief to the person suffering from either left rib pain or right rib pain. During the third trimester, much of a woman's time is often devoted to finding the most comfortable positions to be in, whether lying or sitting, and trying to relieve pain which, while not really the result of anything being wrong, is nevertheless unpleasant.

Summarizing, if you are pregnant, the pregnancy is often the root cause of any left rib pain you may be experiencing. If not pregnant, an injured rib can be the cause. If that is indeed the case, or if you suspect that the rib pain is a symptom of some other disorder, you should see your doctor. It may take a battery of tests to determine the actual cause, which can be, but seldom is, something serious.