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Ribs and the Rib Cage

Ribs are long and curved bones which create the rib cage. The rib cage surrounds the chest cavity this way securing its content. Ribs are effective in protection of the lungs, the heart and large blood vessels, trachea and esophagus.

Pain in ribs may originate from a variety of conditions which are connected to the very ribs or surrounding organs.

Causes of Painful Ribs

The most common cause of painful ribs is injury. Fractured or cracked ribs are very painful and this pain is classified as one of the most intensive. The ribs may be fractured in certain sports activities, in fight or in car accidents. Even, a fall may cause a rib fracture, especially in elderly people. The leading symptoms of broken ribs are intensive pain on the injured side and painful breathing. The area of the injury is sensitive to touch and every single movement is rather painful. Since the rib cage moves all the time during the process of respiration the pain is constant.

Injury may also cause the damage to cartilage which connects ribs to the breast bone. The symptoms of damaged cartilage are similar to those in rib fracture. And finally, in injury of the chest only soft tissue can be affected. Even the damage of the muscles, tendons and ligaments reflect in severe pain which tends to intensify while changing position and during respiration.

Pain in ribs can also occur due to certain conditions of bones and joints. Inflammation of the rib joints is regularly accompanied by pain. Inflammation of joints is caused either by osteoarthritis or by rheumatoid arthritis.

In some cases certain lung conditions may result in painful ribs. Pleurisy is only one of them. In inflammation of pleura the pain actually radiates and the person may feel that the pain originates from ribs. The actual source of pain is the pleura. The pain intensifies while breathing and change of the position. Pneumonia is another lung disease which may lead to painful ribs. And finally, in tuberculosis ribs can be painful. This particularly occurs if the very ribs are affected by the infection.

Painful ribs may be a symptom of certain cancers. Lung cancer as well as multiple myeloma usually causes pain in ribs. The pain is commonly caused by the spread of the cancer into ribs. In lung cancer the tumor does not have to affect ribs directly but can spread to the pleura and irradiate towards ribs. Additionally, the pain in ribs occurs in advanced stages of mesothelioma.

And finally, a variety of diseases which are not connected to the rib cage can feature with pain in ribs. They include gallbladder stones and gallbladder attack, damage of the spinal cord nerves, shingles, and chronic abuse of steroids, angina and many more.

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