What’s Causing Your Rib Cage Pain?
Rib cage pain is not a very common ailment, but for those who suffer with it, the pain can bring on unbelievable discomfort. If you currently suffer from pain around or just under your rib cage then you’ll know that even simple actions, like twisting, stretching, and even taking a deep breath can bring on a shock of pain that leaves you breathless. Before you can seek the appropriate treatment method, it’s a good idea to consider what could be going on inside your chest to make it hurt so much. Read on to learn about a few injuries and conditions that are known to cause rib cage pain.
If your rib cage pain seemed to spawn after that rough game of football you played with your buddies, then you’re probably past the point of regretting your participation and simply want to treat the pain. An injury to the ribs isn’t necessarily common, but it is definitely more likely to occur through sports and other strenuous “contact” activities. In this case, one of the most likely causes of your pain is a bruised rib. Actually, that “street term” isn’t really relevant to the injury itself, which doesn’t involve a bruise on the rib bone at all! In fact, the bruising occurs in the muscles and tissues that surround the rib.
The symptoms of a bruised rib include pain and tenderness around one or more ribs (usually on the same side of the chest), pain upon taking a deep breath, stabbing but persistent pain in the chest, and even the tell-tale signs of bruising on the skin over your ribs, such as dark discoloration and a bit of minor swelling. Bruised ribs will usually heal without the need for excessive treatment; the key is to restrict your movements as much as possible until the affected tissues have healed properly. In the meantime you can always take anti-inflammatory medicine to cut back on the pain and any swelling that may have occurred as well as apply an ice pack to the area for about 20 minutes every hour after the injury.
Another cause of rib cage pain is a broken rib. The symptoms of a bruised rib and a broken rib can be quite similar, which makes this a difficult condition to diagnose without the help of a doctor and his/her x-ray machine! As with bruising, a fracture to the rib can occur through any blunt trauma to the ribs, such as a car accident or drinking too much eggnog and falling off the table at the Christmas party. Most of the time a broken rib takes the form of a crack that runs through the rib. Very rarely do ribs actually snap in half because they are designed with a certain amount of flexibility when pressure is applied.
The symptoms of a broken rib include significant pain, even while motionless, and taking deep breaths may feel impossible due to the intense pain that accompanies the action. As you might guess, the pain will become worse when the chest is moved, twisted, or stretched. Most cracked ribs heal on their own, but do well with the help of a bandage wrapped around the torso to provide support and to immobilize the ribs. If you suspect that you have a broken rib then you should probably see a doctor, regardless of the fact that most broken ribs heal without special attention. Your doctor will likely want to x-ray your chest to make sure that your bone hasn’t splintered, in which case the pieces could puncture the surrounding tissues and nearby organs.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine can be a huge help in reducing pain, tightness, and swelling. Ice packs will also help for the first day, but after the first 24 hours you may want to switch to heat, such as a hot water bottle or a heating pad.
Pleurisy is a condition that, to the ears of today’s generation, sounds a bit out of date or old fashioned. This is because back in the day, pleurisy was a serious condition that actually killed a lot of people. In modern times, pleurisy can still be life threatening but it usually doesn’t get that far because medical treatments are so effective against this condition. So, what is pleurisy, you ask? It’s an illness that involves inflammation of the pleura, or the lining of the lungs. Pleurisy is so unheard of these days mainly because it is a complication of pneumonia and tuberculosis—both of which are conditions that most of us would have treated before any complications have a chance to arise.
That being said, pleurisy is still an illness to watch out for, especially if you’ve recently experienced a condition that may have involved inflammation of the lungs, such as trauma to the chest or a chest infection. The most noticeable symptom of pleurisy is the sharp, knife-like pain that occurs when a deep breath is drawn. Coughing and a short, rapid breathing pattern are other common symptoms. A tell-tale sign is a blue-ish tint to the skin.
Pleurisy can be treated a few ways depending on what has caused it. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics whereas viral infections simply have to run their course. In either case, it may be necessary to remove excess fluid that can build up in the lungs.