Ribcage pain includes any pain or discomfort in the area of the ribs.
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.
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.
Pain - ribcage
Jones H, Reynolds JH. Thoracic trauma and related topics. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 10.
Tzelepis GE, Gartman EJ, McCool FD. The respiratory system and chest wall diseases. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 98.
Review Date 1/16/2021
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.