Sore Ribs

Sore Ribs: Causes and Treatments

No matter what the cause, sore ribs certainly are no day at the beach.  They can be caused by a variety of things, some more serious than others.  By having an idea of what caused your sore ribs, you will be able to seek appropriate treatment. The following is a list of the more common causes for sore ribs and their respective treatments.   This is not a complete list of the causes for sore ribs, and if you are not sure what may be causing your rib pain, it is best to see a qualified physician.


Coughing - Violent coughing fits are a common source of rib pain.  Especially if your bones have been compromised by such diseases as osteoporosis or cancer, it is possible to fracture a rib from very forceful coughing.  It is also possible that coughing could cause you to pull a muscle.  In either case, anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen should help to alleviate the rib pain resulting from coughing.  In this case, a cough suppressant medicine should also be used to keep from further aggravating the condition.

Pleurisy - This is an inflammation of the membrane that lines the chest cavity around the area of the lungs.  Extreme, sharp pain is felt when inhaling or coughing.  It produces a sensation similar to rib pain, even though it is not associated with the ribs specifically.  Rib fractures can be the cause of pleurisy, though.  Anti-inflammatory medications are generally prescribed to ease the pain of pleurisy.

Broken Ribs - Trauma or repeated violent coughing can produce broken or cracked ribs.  Unfortunately, there is not a lot that doctors can do to help heal broken ribs except prescribe pain medication and have the patient limit their activity until the ribs have had time to heal.

Strained Muscles - Sore or pulled muscles can cause pain in the rib area, particularly when turning or raising your arms.  Anti-inflammatory medications and deep muscle massage can help ease the pain of strained muscles.  Sitting in a hot tub can also help to soothe pulled muscles.

Tietze Syndrome (Costochondritis) - Costochondritis of often confused with having a heart attack, since the pain appears suddenly and is very intense.  This is an inflammation of the cartilage of the rib cage, and the chest wall near the sternum becomes very tender when pushed on.  Costochondritis usually responds well to anti-inflammatory medications, and glucosamine and condroitin have been used to help heal damaged cartilage as well.

Pregnancy - Mainly during the third trimester, many women begin to experience rib pain resulting from their pregnancy.  Sore ribs from pregnancy mainly affect the right side of the body, just below the breasts, and it is usually more significant when sitting rather than while standing or lying down.  The rib pain is caused by the uterus pushing against the ribs as the baby grows, and it can be caused by the baby kicking or hitting the uterine wall, which is against the side of the ribs.  The pain will most likely lessen as you near childbirth, as the baby drops into position.

Fibromyalgia - A condition causing widespread, chronic pain, fibromyalgia sometimes affects the ribs, causing intensely sore ribs.  A number of pain medications and psychological treatments have been effectively used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Although they come from a variety of causes, in most cases sore ribs can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and rest.  Be careful not to confuse chest pain with rib pain, though.  Chest pain can have must more serious causes that may require immediate medical intervention.  Pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, and angina are a few causes of severe chest pain that could potentially be fatal without medical intervention.