Rib cage pain is described as dull, piercing or sore pain felt at and beneath the chest as well as on the upper part of the navel on either side. This pain can occur after an injury or without any cause. Take note that rib cage pain can be triggered by rib fracture or pulled muscles where the pain can occur abruptly during injury or steadily develop over time. This pain can also indicate an underlying health issue, thus it is vital to consult a doctor if the individual experiences unexplainable rib cage pain.
What are the causes of rib cage pain?
The common causes of rib cage pain include bruised ribs and pulled muscle. Other causes include rib fractures, chest injuries, muscle spasms, bone diseases, inflamed rib cartilage and inflamed lining of the lungs.
Identifying rib cage pain
The rib cage pain can be apparent without any movement or there is piercing pain during breathing in or when moving into a particular position. A doctor must be consulted right away if the individual experiences severe pain when breathing in or moving the body or there is difficulty in breathing.
In case there is pressure or pain in the chest along with rib discomfort, it is best to seek medical care. These might be symptoms of an imminent heart attack. When an individual recently had a fall and experiences pain upon breathing that is accompanied by severe bruising, call for emergency assistance.
Consulting a doctor
The type of rib cage pain and the location will be used by the doctor to determine the tests to perform. In case pain started right after the injury, an X-ray will be performed to show if there are fractures or abnormalities in the bones. If there are any abnormalities in the X-ray, the doctor will request for an MRI for a detailed view of the ribcage and the surrounding structures. For chronic pain, a bone scan will be requested. This test is normally performed if bone cancer is suspected.
Treatment of rib cage pain
The ideal treatment for rib cage pain depends on the exact cause of the pain. In case the rib cage pain is due to a minor injury such as a bruise or pulled muscle, a cold compress can be applied over the area to minimize the swelling. For intense pain, you can provide the individual with over-the-counter pain medications. You can learn more about pain management measures if you will register for first aid training today.
If the cause is a rib fracture and over-the-counter pain medications do not work, the doctor will prescribe stronger pain medications and apply a compression wrap. This is basically a large elastic bandage that is wrapped around the chest. Take note that the compression holds the area to prevent further injury and pain. Nevertheless, these wraps will make it difficult for the individual to breathe and can increase the risk for pneumonia.