Although there are many different causes of rib pain that will in no ways respond to my TISSUE REMODELING TREATMENT (costochondritis, osteoporosis, fracture, etc), there are many people whose rib pain can be effectively treated by what I do in my clinic. If you are interested in meeting a couple of these folks, take just a couple of minutes to watch THESE TWO VIDEOS.  Between these two individuals, there was nearly a decade of Chronic Rib Pain prior to their experience here.

Although rib problems are not typically dangerous like a ruptured disc can be (unless you happen to shatter them in a terrible accident), rib pain can be severe to the point that people think they are dying.  I frequently see patients who come to me after getting an air-evac ride to the hospital, and then ending up being run through several days worth of cardio tests that cost more than the house they are living in.  Their conversation with their cardiologist frequently goes something like this:

Thank Goodness Mr Jones!  We have run every conceivable test — many of them several times over.  We cannot seem to find a single thing wrong with you.  Everything appears to be just fine.  You are as healthy as the proverbial horse, and your heart is just about perfect.”  

But doc, why am I still having the same pain that I came in here with in the first place?” 

(deer-in-the-headlights look) “That is a great question Mr. Jones.  Be sure and ask your family doctor when you see him later this week.” 

If you think I am over-exaggerating, you would be wrong.  I see at least two patients a month (often more), who have been through an almost identical scenario.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want people showing up in my office in the middle of a heart attack.  But something is rotten in Denmark when it takes several days, a $20,000 helicopter ride, and the better part of a hundred grand to (incorrectly) tell someone that there is “nothing” wrong with them.


To understand some of the most common causes of rib pain, we have to understand a little bit of anatomy (see the picture at the top of the page).  There are typically 12 pairs of ribs that make up the “rib cage”.  As you already know, the rib cage surrounds and protects several organs (chiefly the lungs).  All ribs attach to the spine, and the “Thoracic Spine” is the 12 vertebrates that the ribs attach to.  In the front, ribs (or more correctly, the rib cartilages) attach to the sternum or breast bone.  The lowest two or three ribs are said to “float” because they do not have a bony or cartilage attachment in the front. 

An important fact to remember is that ribs move.  I know that ribs feel like they are anchored to the spine, but trust me — they move.  You can feel this simply by putting your hands on your ribs and breathing deeply.  When ribs do not move properly, not only can it hurt (sometimes terribly), it almost always hurts specifically to cough, breathe, sneeze, laugh, hiccup, etc. 

I frequently see patients who have ribs “out”.  The technical term for this condition is SUBLUXATION.  In a nutshell, “subluxation” means bones or joints that are either misaligned or not moving properly in relationship to each other.  One of the beauties of subluxated ribs is that they usually respond to adjustment immediately.  When they do not, I start to think of FASCIAL ADHESIONS that could be restricting rib motion and causing pain. 

Another fact that people may not be aware of is just how much “tissue” attaches to ribs.  Much of this is fascia, although there are ligaments, tendons, and muscles as well.  Let’s look at a few pictures of the tissues that attach to ribs.

Rib Tissue Pain

The thing that I want you to see here is just how many tiny muscles (muscle tendons) attach to the rib cage.  Also notice the muscles that actually run between the ribs.

Rib Tissue Pain

This picture, as opposed to the previous, is from the front.  Again, notice how the rib cage as well as the individual ribs are completely covered with muscles and tendons.

Rib Tissue Pain

Notice not only the muscles that attach directly to the rib cage, but look at the amount of fascia.  This fascia runs from the pelvis to the skull and attaches to ribs along the way.  And remember….. Fascia is arguably the single most pain-sensitive tissue in the entire body!

Rib Tissue Pain

A great picture of the relationship of the fascia and associated musculature of the abdominal muscles, to the rib cage.

Rib Tissue Pain

Serratus Anterior Muscle. Notice how this muscle covers the entire lateral rib cage.

Rib pain is common.  Dog common.  Just yesterday I treated a woman who had torn a rib fascia while coughing.  she is a tough gal, but her pain was about as severe as anything that I see in my clinic.

Rib tissues can be injured in a variety of ways.  Coughing and sneezing are a couple of common ones.  Throwing is also a fairly common way to injure these tissues (especially throwing something really heavy like a chunk of firewood).   As you can imagine, rib injuries are common in sports.  Not only are they found in contact sports like football, but they are also found frequently in baseball, softball, and even golf (swinging a bat or golf club can tear rib tissues and put even the “heavy hitters” on the D.L.). 


115 responses to “RIB TISSUE PAIN

  1. Wanda Johnson

    A few days ago, I was sitting down and bent over to pickup something off the floor with my left hand. I couldnt reach it, so I stretched out a little farther and had a sharp pain in my left side, right at the bottom of my rib cage. It hurt for a few minutes then eased up some. However, a couple of hours later the pain worsened every time i took a deep breath, and everytime i tried to stand after sitting. There is some swelling right at the bottom of my ribs. Could this be a pulled muscle or possibly a broken rib?

  2. Kathy

    I am 62 and have had pain under my left breast that moves around to my back for 7 days now. I do not want to go to ER and find out it is in my ribs or a muscle and be billed $$ for nothing. Although, i am scaring myself because it is not subsiding. In the last week i have had extreme sweats. I did twist my body a week ago but felt nothing at the time but wonder if this is really the reason for the pain. Who should i see that can check me out without the expense of a hospital?

  3. Jessica

    sometimes when I bend or move it feels like I have something coming through my rib cage I have to sit there and literally work it back through what could this be? my rib cage is now very sore on the right hand side I do not have my gallbladder it was removed about 6 years ago. thank you in advance and your articles on run issues are very interesting. Please help.

  4. Adesola

    Dr Schierling,
    Please I have been having this dull persistent back pain for 1year that radiated initially from my lower ribs, now, the pain is worse and I can feel it in my whole back. I do not feel any kind of numbness on my legs, it gets a little bit better when I lie down. I am only 20yrs doc and I really need to know what’s wrong with me doc. I have no form of oedema in my face and feet. Please doc, what’s wrong with me?

  5. Gina

    Dr Schierling,
    I have had this chronic rib pain for approximately 2 1/2 years, it started as a compression sensation around my rib cage a tight thick binding sensation and R sided upper rib pain. I was diagnosed with costochondritis after having scans and ultrasounds coming back negative. The pain now circulates around the full the rib cage sometimes into the back. It feels as if I have either bone cancer, R sided lung problems. I have seen a cardiologist, pulmonologist, orthopedic physician, gastroenterologist, and even neurologist. I am waiting to see a rheumatologist. This has greatly impaired my quality of life. It is extremely painful to touch R>L side, unable to sleep on R side at night. I am 52 years old and was very active before this. I literally woke up one morning with the compression sensation, which as progressively worsened, it never goes away, all tests have been negative. I need help and answers!!!
    Thank you,

    • Hello Gina,

      Is this positional (i.e do certain positions aggravate it?) Is it something that hurts with certain movements or is it totally random? Doubtful it’s costochondritis. If not myofascial, it’s probably some sort of neuralgia.

      Dr. Russ

      • Gina

        No it’s not positional it is a deep constant pain that has gradually worsened in intensity. I have have had thoracic injections with steroids but it actually aggravated it. I failed to mention I am also starting to have pain in my hip joints more of just an achy sensation there.
        Thank you for your help.

      • HERE is a post that might be worth reading. This sounds like a “Systemic Inflammatory” problem. Not sure the Tissue Remodeling would be of benefit as I am not even sure of what your problem is. However, there is a good starting point for almost every health problem you care to mention (HERE).

        Dr. Russ

  6. Brandon

    What’s the prognosis or typically time it would take for an athlete that does many twisting movements with there Torso to comeback from a cartilage fracture to one of the floating 12th ribs? Is the lumbar triangle in the equation here seeing that it inserts or originates from the iliac crest to the anterior costochondral junction? Is there a pain or steroid injection or a vest they could wear to just get them through 3 -4 games a week for 25-35 min per game?

    • Hello Brandon,

      When it comes to this sort of injury, they are not really “dangerous”. It’s just a matter of how much pain you are willing to put up with. I never recommend Corticosteroids and have never heard of such a vest.

      Dr. Russ

  7. lorena clark

    hi, i have had chest and rib pain for a year now. it started a couple months after having twins. any clue what i could be?? it gets so.bad that i have to stop what im doing and sometimes im on the floor crying.

  8. Mia

    Dr. Schierling, I wish I were closer to you. I’m all the way in CA. I’m afraid I have some fascia / tissue problems. I have a constant pain along the left side of my sternum right near my heart which I’ve been having since May. I feel like I’m constantly having a heart attack all day long. It hurts 24-7 but more when I twist to the side and when I bend the trunk of my neck down and hunch my back and draw my shoulders forward. It feels like it’s on the inside of my ribcage all along the muscles around my heart area left side. All of my cardio tests are normal and CT scan and x rays. I’m afraid my body will be like this for the rest of my life. I’m female, 32. I used to be very active and this pain has ruined my life. I keep trying to think what may have done this and I remember tripping and falling down 2 stairs and falling onto my left shoulder in the Spring time. The pain makes it difficult to take a full, deep breath and I cry everyday in pain and beg G-d to help me heal or kill me soon so I don’t have to suffer everyday anymore. I’m afraid I will never heal or I’m healing incorrectly. I just don’t know what to do anymore , each day is very difficult to cope. I’ve lost my appetite, my personality, everything. Is there any hope for me do you think? Or will my rib and sternum feel like this forever do you think. I’m so scared and tired of crying and I hate to take pain pills which is all the Drs want to give me. I’ve been adjusted a few times here in town by a chiro, no relief. Thanks for listening

  9. Ryan

    About two years ago I started getting a tight cramping feeling in my left lower latissimus dorsi. The pain/discomfort seams to be in the area where my posterior serratus and external oblique kind of meet on the lower rib cage. I notice the my left lower outside back muscles don’t fire the same as my right when I flex my lower back and lats. The cramping/tightness really becomes prominent when I work my back muscles at the gym. Rows/pull downs etc. This issue does seam to improve. Even after doing physical therapy/ chiropractic care / muscle relaxers. I’ve had no real marketable improvement. Need help! Thanks.

  10. ZT

    Hello Dr. Schierling, I came across your website and I have a couple questions that I hope you can please answer. Before I get into my issues I think its best to tell you about myself quickly, I’m a 20 year old male, I weight 195, and I play competitive basketball weekly and like to think that im in pretty good shape and a healthy individual. Since the start of October I have been dealing with stomach pain and was told by my doctor that I had a stomach ulcer and was put on pantoprazole, I was put on panto for 2 weeks but was still having pain so the doctor put me on panto for a month, so on October 30 before I went to bed I felt like my heart was beating faster then normal and went to the emergency they did a blood test and x-ray and urine test and said everything was fine, so about two weeks after that I went to emergency again, what led me to go to emergency again was I was laying on my bed but I felt my heart beating faster I got up and then it started pounding hard (mind you I think I have bad anxiety and panic and worry more then other people, also the whole week I had been dealing with acute pain on the left side of my chest, under my armpit and also the center-left of my chest, but thought it was some aching pain and it would go away but it didn’t), I went to the hospital they did a ultrasound of my heart, they said that looked good and also they did blood test again and x-ray’s and said everything was fine but the doctor said that I might have Costochondritis. I went home and read and did a little research about Costochondritis and alot of the symptoms and pain that was associated with Costo was matching up with my pain, the doctor told me to take Advil but I told him about the stomach ulcer so he said it’s better then to take Tylenol and just rest. So the past couple weeks it seems like I had pain on the left side of my neck (the same side of the Costo) and spoke to a Cardiologist because I had a stress test last week and I went up to 180bpm on the stress test and he said the heart looked good, and he said that the Costo is probably the issue, and to just take Tylenol aswell as rub A535 RUB on the chest and I have rubbed it on the neck and it seems to help, but the cartilage on the left side of my chest still feels tender and I sometimes have pain on the right side of my chest, I was just wondering do you know how long it takes Costo to fully heal ? as-well I feel a part of my cartilage tender on the left side and I was wondering if thats normal for it to be tender a little, because I feel like it’s swollen a bit but its hard to tell If it’s swollen or if its just tender, I also feel a little bit of that Costo pain on my right side can the pain radiate to the right side of the cartilage is that normal? lastly do you think that my stomach issues have anything to do with my Costo by any chance?

    Thank you for your time its appreciated.

  11. Victoria

    3 years ago I took a really nasty fall. I stepped on a walnut and for whatever reason twisted my body. I broke my foot and hurt my rib cage. The doctor said I separated my cartilage from the ribs. Of course nothing could be done other than medication for the pain and ice. Is it normal to still have pain after 3 years? I find myself holding my arm across my chest quite often. I am now 54 snd know it takes time for the body to heal. Thank you.

  12. tricia kalchik

    i have had chronic lower left ribcage discomfort for three years and shoulder blade. now it is radiating to my left hip. please help.Tricia

  13. David

    I’m 52 and for 4 years now i have pain around my rib cage from one side to the other side through my back but only when i hold my arms out straight in front of me the pain is so bad i can hardly stand it.I’ve been to doctors and hospitals they find nothing. i was told i was lacking potassium but it didn’t help what can it be?

  14. Raymond

    I’ve been experiencing a popping / clicking / snapping sensation in the center lower area between my ribs (after looking at a diagram of the ribs I’d say it would be near the xiphoid). It’s particularly bad when I lay on my right side. It feels like one rib is getting caught under the other and “clicking” or “snapping”

  15. Confused as to why it hurts!

    about 2 years ago I crashed ski racing, I went about 20 mph into the fence pole…ribs hit first and I heard a crack, but none of my equipment was broken. so. either cracked a rib, bruised them, or something else along those lines. I could move or breathe very well, and I ignored the pain and iced…my side was red, black, blue, purple by the end of that weekend.
    Had pain in that area for a period of about another month or two.

    Now, I get random bouts of pain in that spot, and it hurts like heck to breathe for about 5 minutes…and I have put slight pressure on that side and it’s tender to touch, and the other side is fine…
    What might be going on?

  16. Siobhan

    Hi Dr. Russell Schierling,

    Over a year and a half ago after getting steroid injections in my back (2nd round of 3 sets – I have had chronic back, hip and leg pain for the last 10 yrs [predominantly on the right side] – none of the 5 injections I’d had previously over 2 yrs caused this reaction/problem) I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. After running every test under the sun they found nothing wrong. A few weeks later I saw a general practitioner who examined me and diagnosed me with pulled chest muscles on the left side (most likely from being flipped over from my stomach onto my back after receiving the injections). I was told there isn’t really anything I could do except take some anti-inflammatory medication and wait for the problem to heal itself (he said it could take as long as 6-9 months).

    It has been over 18 months and I still have the same problem. The left side of my chest is still extremely sore when even a little bit of pressure is put on it (for example: my cat kneading) . It is so painful that I cannot take it and have to move and relieve the pressure immediately. I still have the breathless feeling in my chest which I had in the beginning too, though, I’ve gotten used to it now 18 months later. I also get a sharp pain in my sternum when I stretch my arms back – feels like someone stabbing a knife into my sternum.

    My questions to you are: 1. Is it normal for pulled chest muscles to take over 18 months to heal? I don’t feel any improvement in the last year and a half. 2. I am going back to the GP who diagnosed the pulled muscles in a few days – are there any questions I should be asking along with telling him how I have been feeling? 3. Could there be another problem that is causing the pain/breathlessness besides pulled muscles?

    I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Oh, and in case it matters I am female, 28 yrs old.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Siobhan,

      Age always matters as it has some degree of bearing on healing times. To answer your questions

      1.) Not unless there is something else going on like Scar Tissue.
      2.) Doubtful. If you mention Scar Tissue or Fascia, he will look at you like you’re from Neptune.
      3.) The list is endless, but most of the problems on it are not nearly as common as Scar Tissue.

      Make sure to watch my Doctor Schierling site as I will probably have a video up of a patient from Texas, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

      Dr. Russ

  17. Ashley

    Hi :)
    I’m a 23 y/o female. I was dignosised with gastritis a while ago.( lots of acid, feeling heart burn , chests pain,bottoms ribs hurt etc) well they gave me medicine and it’s helped the acid. Yet, I’m still having like a stinging pain ( it comes out of the blue) on my sturnum mostly middle left and my bottoms ribs starting from the middle of the body outward. I’ve had a lot of allergys lately no coughing tho, just a lot of mucus down the back of my throat?

  18. Arora

    Could you please help me I have chronic rsi which 2 physios failed to fix. I have now been told I have slipped ribs which is causing the pain. The first 4 weeks of physio was great but last week for an uknown reason my whole rib cage started to hurt – 2 physio visits later the whole area around the right breastbone seems to move when I walk. Do I continue with my exercises and allow this to heal or go to a different physio? I am sooo desperate please help.

  19. Jennie

    My pain started about 2 years ago after giving birth to my 1st child. I get neck and chest spasms. It feels like I am being stabbed in chest strait thru to my shoulder blades. My ribs feel like they are being sqeezed at times and I can’t breathe. I have tension headaches all the time. My ribs get tender and warm to touch. Pain varys from day to day but never goes away. I use to be very athletic due to this I just try and manage my pain. I gained a lot of weight with 1st pregnancy and have not lost it all and now I am pregnant again. I cant take any of my usual meds to cope. Ive had the whole work up. Dr can’t find anything. Been to 2 chiros, accupressure massages and now on my second round of physical therapy. Physical therapist is really good specializes in ribs in stuff. She says I have a lot of restrictions in my spine, ribs and skull. I feel good after I see her but it comes back few days later. It feels worse with exercise its like I get to tight. It use to send me to ER once a week thinking I was having a heart attack, but since then I now try and control the anxiety I get from the pain. Just wondering about any input you have on why the restrictions keep happening. Shes says its my core and posture. Im very heavy chested to.

  20. hiddenseas

    Hello, I’ve been having chronic pain in all of my ribs for three years now which I can only assume was caused by doing chest exercises at the time. The pain varies in duration, movement, sensations, and has been made 100% worse with the weather getting colder. When I inhale I can feel the coldness of the air passing to my lungs, I get very Strong chest spasms and my whole chest feels weak and tight.what does this sound like? Every doctor just passes it off as costochondritis and pretty much leaves it at that, I can’t live with this pain any longer

  21. Melissa

    I’ve been searching for an explanation for a strange discomfort I’ve been having for the last few months and it sounds similar to what’s described above. In the lower center area between my ribs, when I move specific ways, I feel a stabbing pain (example: lying on my side in bed). It feels like the ribs are scraping against each other and stabbing into tissue. Sometimes, I get a painful stab in the same area without the scraping feeling. Does this match with a rib tissue problem or is there something else I should look into?

    Thank you. I would appreciate any feedback you could give.

  22. Larry

    I have been going to the pain center for a year now, Maybe helps a bit for about three days. They have me on oxycodone which helps some but it does not take the pain away. Sometimes it feels like the muscles are tightening around my rib cage. I can stand up work with pain for periods, but once I stop and sit the pain become 10x worse.

  23. Julie McGinnis

    I work at a truck manufacturing plant, a week ago I was climbing up into the truck on the right hand side. When I went to pull myself up with my left arm I felt something pull, I have hurt from the top of my shoulder to the bottom of my ribs on the left side. I have a pain that feels like it’s in my left breast constantly. I can’t sleep on my back or left side, it hurts to breathe also. Hoping you can help me figure out what this is..

    • Hello Julie,

      You have likely either created a rib subluxation or injured the connective tissue that holds everything together. While neither is particularly dangerous (like a herniated disc can be), both can make you think you’re dying.

      Dr. Russ

  24. Alex Ardizzone

    In April of 2013 I was lifting the hood of my car, when I could feel something pull on the my right side rib cage,X-ray showed nothing, it hurts most when I lay down to go to sleep at night. After awhile the pain subsides. It’s been over a year & the pain is still the same now as it was when it first happened. What can I do for relief?? I’m 72 now & have enough pain without this new pain.

  25. Debbie

    Hi dr russ,
    For almost 8 years i had ct, mri n xrays, echos showing nothing significant. Well mri showed a vertebrae with a small nodule. But no relationship apparently.
    The pain i have under upper left rib is off the scale coming and going, when i sit quietly theres no problem. As soon as im upright it starts from tightness then inflames, if i carry v light shopping its triggered. Deep breathes trigger. A walk in park triggers. Its so debilitating and im sure my other muscles compensating this and starting to also have problems. I think my physio may have made a break through she found a spot almost on the rib which she said was muscle, but id say bullseye. The pain on soft touch was like electric shock. What do you advise ? Is there a cure i cannot face another 8 years of this im exhausted with it. General docs have sent me all over the place but dont put pieces together if its complex and no quik answer. V frustrating.

  26. Tessa Belk

    Hello Dr. Russ,

    Lately I have been having really sharp pains in my ribs. It’s usually in one place, lower right part of rib cage, but it can happen other places.
    It’s sharp and feels like someone’s stabbing me. It can feel so bad that I have to hunch over and stop breathing. It goes as quick as it comes.
    It’s not a constant pain, it’s more random. One of my attacks can last from a few seconds to a couple minutes.
    It’s been happening since May. My friends think it’s indigestion, but I’m not so sure…
    I’m 18 years old, 125 lbs, 5′ 6″, female, rarely active.
    The past two days, I felt the same pain, but it was moved to my spine.
    Any ideas? I don’t wanna go to the doctor if I don’t have to.

    Thank you,

  27. Jazz Selby

    Are you in england?

  28. Jane Crowe

    Dear Dr. Russ,

    I fell onto my back during gymnastics three days ago. After it happened I had some dull pain under my left breast/rib cage area. The pain has gone away but when I sneeze, I have sharp pain in that area. The pain does go away after a few minutes. I do not have any pain when coughing or laughing or any other body movement. Could this be a bruised rib or something?

  29. janet

    Hi Dr. Russell

    I have had dull pain in my lowest right back ribs. I guess it’s flank pain. The area of the pain is about as big as a fist, but is not really tender the the touch. However; it I push around in there it starts to ache afterwards. It started in January 2014 after a terrible cold. I have tried chiro, massage therapy, had a bone scan, xrays, blood work, and nothing is found wrong. Also, no treatment has made it better.

    But this pain doesn’t go away and in fact, it is getting a little worse. It’s still a dull pain but more constant now.

    Do you have any suggestions for me?

    Thanks, Janet

  30. Marlene

    Dr Russell Thank you for all you knowledge . Just reading these posts has helped me in having a better understanding of what may be happening in my case. I lifted a rather large piece of furniture ,felt a sharp pain ( like a lightning bolt , knife ) lower back ,two bottom ribs ,right side . Touching the ribs where it hurts feels like there is a marble stuck in between the ribs ( ligaments ,tendons,muscles ? ) I can move around without constant pain ,just not doing anything to aggravate it any more. I did go to the Chiropractor ,three times I might add ! I have also gone to see Kinesiologist, who told me without even feeling the area in between my ribs that my pubic bone was out and it was not a rib .. Go figure ! I truly feel for all you folks , hurting and suffering just trying to fine the right cure and help. I realize if you have found your way here you are in good hands .
    Once again Thank You Dr Russ ;+)

  31. Kristin Vestrheim

    Dr Doctors.
    For the last 4 weeks I have had a stabbing pain below my left breast in the rib area. It last from seconds to minutes. It can not be reproduced by movement, breath or touch, but is seems somewhat worse when I have been sleeping sitting up with my 5 week old on my chest. Could this pain be rib/muscular in nature?

    • Hello Kristin,

      Could be a tissue thing, but usually there will be a certain movement or position that causes pain. The common denominator with rib pain is that it can be severe in the absence of any sort of objective findings.

      Dr. Russ

  32. Debra McKinnon

    I was searching the internet because I am having weird things as well, at the sternum and ribcage. I have twinges, not really pain, that happens quite often, and it comes and goes, but when I am having a flare up or whatever you want to call it, the twinges happen all the time. It starts at my sternum and goes through to my back.

    I recently went to the chiropractor, he mentioned I had some ribs out of place. But, this weird thing has been happening to me, a few months ago, I was in the gym and doing pullups for my abs. I got a horrible pain under my left ribcage, almost like something was poking out from under my ribs, it was intense to where I had to push on my ribcage to help the pain. Last night it happened again. I was working in the yard, twisted just the right way and the pain was horrible. I could hardly breath and had to push in on my rib cage real hard and I swear, it felt like something was poking out.

    Should I see a doctor or does this sound like the rib cage problem? I am normally very healthy and very active.

    • Hello Debra,

      Sounds like it may very well be subluxated ribs. I would try a different chiro and see what happens. Does not really sound like a tissue thing to me, but impossible to say for sure without looking.

      Dr. Russ

  33. Melissa

    Dr. Schierling,
    I’ve had this pain on my front right side under or in my ribs for over a year now. It hurts on the bottom of my rib cage going up underneath. If I find the right ribs, it hurts to push on them. I have been to 5 different Drs., had 3 separate ultrasounds, a HIDA scan, and a CT scan. And they can’t find anything. So they put me on this medicine called Amitriptyline, I’m guessing to deaden the pain. I’ve only been on it for about 5 days but I’m still not really seeing a difference. Although they did say it’ll take about 2-3 weeks to take effect. I’m concerned they think it’s organs that’s bugging me and I think it’s just my ribs. What do you think?

  34. Manny Medina

    Im sorry if my writing bad but im in pain.. im only 25yr old n everyday since my back injury.. I get muscle cramps on my back, ribs, butt, hips, legs and under my feet.. if there any way I could get some example in how to stretch. . Cuz I hate taking 7 different meds daily.

  35. Matthew Knepper

    Hello Dr. Schierling, exactly one year ago I was playing softball and threw a ball while on one foot, I felt like something ripped out around my rib area it hurt so bad I hit the ground. After just a minute or two I felt fine, threw the ball again and it again put me on the ground. I would not experience any pain except when I threw the ball it felt like on rib was getting caught on another and kinda clicking off and on it. The season ended and eventually I wasn’t throwing anything and had no problems. 3 weeks ago (a year later) I was throwing the ball and didn’t have the sudden initial injury type pain, but the feeling of something moving returned. It is painful every time I throw and even more so uncomfortable it feels very weird. When I move certain ways in the shower for example I feel it. Any diagnosis doc? Being that I don’t seem to have any broken bones can I wrap it to try and hold whatever it is in place so I can throw? Thanks so much for any help!

    • Hello Matthew,

      Hello Matthew,

      My best guess is that this is not merely a rib subluxation (a rib out of place). This problem sounds like a tissue problem to me. Wrapping might help but wrapping carries with it other problems. One is that it can cause pneumonia because it does not let the rib cage expand.

      Dr. Russ

  36. Dana Tilley

    This was a very interesting article and I am wondering if it applies to my situation. I had bariatric surgery 4 weeks ago. Shortly after surgery I started having back pain on my left side. The doctor attributed it to left over gases that are used during surgery. The pain diminished but was still severe (liking getting stabbed in the back) when I hiccuped, coughed, or sneezed. Yesterday I ate something that did not sit well and I ended up throwing up. When I got up this morning, my left side and back are extremely painful and when I hiccuped it made me scream. Any insight you could give me would be appreciated.

  37. Cecilia

    Hello, I am a 23 year old female. I’ve had rib pain for a year and some now. Originally 3 ribs were displaced, fixed, and seemingly healed. Now I am suffering left shoulder and rib pain. The rib pain is just right under my left breast. What could it be? Sleeping on it agitates it…

  38. Amani Suleiman


    I am having a terrible pain in my sternum and the side of ribs near it. Happened after me giving birth (normal delivery). Pain for two years now, I did an xray several times, ct scan, and bone scan, all are normal. Heart echo normal, and breast examination came back normal, what is wrong with me, I feel hopeless.

  39. Howard Ramsey

    I fell out of tree and broke my back they took my 12th rib out on left side to do surgery back is fine but the left side right above my hip is severe pain i tried several pain Dr. but nothing has helped and it is getting worse.

  40. Thiyagarajan


    My entire back spinal and low hip attached ( muscle + bone ) together. I can’t bend my back. I can’t sit properly. If my legs slip, while walking my spinal gives too much pain.

    Past 5 Years i have this problem. I try to contact a doctor, he priscribed “muscle reflex “. such a medicine is not supporting well.

    I need your suggestion about my disease.

    Around 3 years back I feel pain in lower Spinal, but day by day this pain reached all over my back.

  41. Nichole Hassemer

    I fell straight on to my pelvic bone after being tripped roller skating last night. The only pain I had yesterday was near and around my tailbone when sitting down and getting up. Today when I woke up, I started having neck muscle pain, pain in the muscles covering the lower half of my ribs,and headaches that seem to fad in and out within seconds. I’m wondering if these could be all linked to falling on my tailbone.

  42. Larry Thompson

    I hurt my back playing in a softball tournament three years ago. Over swung and at the immediate time did not bother me. On my way home however, my upper right back under the scapula started in with back spasms that literally took my breath away. I went to the doctor and was given muscle relaxers (getting rid of the spasms) and sent to my physical therapist. I probably went to the therapist for 3 – 4 weeks where she said she could feel a knot deep in the tissue. She did ultrasound on it and massaged it with her elbow but never did completely get rid of the problem. It did feel better after applying pressure in the area and rolling her elbow around but it would always come back fairly soon. I have visited her a few different occasions over the three years for some temporary relief but never getting it resolved for good. It flares up often and hurts to cough or sneeze real hard. It is beginning to be more and more annoying as it flares up during simple daily routines as well as the more exertive routines. I’m tired of the issue and only wish that I could figure out what the problem is so that I can get rid of it for good. Any help would be fantastic! Thanks!

  43. Cayce

    Dr. Schierling,
    For the past almost 3 years now, I have had a terrible chronic pain under my left breast. This pain comes and goes frequently throughout th day. Though I haven’t found many specific things that aggravate it, it always seems to be worse in the evening and when I am wearing a supportive bra (the pain is right were the bottom of the bra sits) which just seems to dig into the area of tenderness. I’ve been to several chiropractors who can’t seem to put their finger on it, and I am currently doing acupuncture (which seems to half take away the pain at times). The area is very tender to the touch and I need a solution to get rid of this chronic pain! Do you think this could be the answer to my problem?

  44. PeterGilmore

    I rolled over after showering 3 months ago and started getting severe spasms in my left upper rib on the back side. The spasms moved to the right side a week later and I am in and out of pain that moves from left to right. The spasms are gone but the tightness and soreness remains 3 days a week I have tried various techniques including dry needle therapy with minimal results. And to complicate matters I am paralyzed and wheelchair bound but at this point they still believe it’s a strain. Does this sound like a strain? thank you for any responses.

  45. Tracie

    I have a bulging muscle or vein that started out as a sore/ bruised rib. It runs from under my left breast to the bottom if my rib. It pops out when i stretch my arm/side up. I am getting worried! I am calling for a doc apt tomorrow, but was wondering if you could speculate on what you think it could be.

  46. Fakiha

    I have had a bad blow to the left side, just below my rib cage 3 years ago while doing Karate. Ever since, whenever I turn or stretch my body to the right, a painful lump appears on the left side just below the rib and I have to stretch my body for the lump to disappear. I have experienced severe pain and have done all the tests possible to find out a cure for this problem. None of the specialist have a solution and advised that I need to live with this problem. I do not believe that so please advise as to what type of specialist I should visit.

    • Sounds like it’s probably Fascial Adhesion.

      Dr. Russ

      • Bonnie

        Dear Dr.
        Thanks for this forum. I’m having a simular situation. Mine started 6 or 8 weeks ago. Minor pain in upper left Rib. Didn’t think too much of it as we are preparing to move and I’ve been packing and such. About 3 weeks ago I took my dog to the beach and carried a heavy bag along with being dragged down the beach by her. Haven’t been the same since. My back hurts, ribs hurt, sides hurt. In the mean time I’ve been packing, up and down… Last week got a massage and its been even worse. I’ve pretty much been in bed since. The pain subsides when I lay down with the heating pad but as soon as I get up to move around the pain is so intense that I am almost convinced to go to the emergency room. And I’m terrified of hospitals. I went to see a acupuncturist and was told my liver is clogged causing spleen and pancreous issues and am on herbs and enzymes. Has helped on the short term but when I get up and moving again here comes the pain. And it’s bad. Mostly in the rib area. Thing is, it doesn’t hurt to breathe. No shortness of breath. I have no nausea. I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to pack since we have to be out of our house next week and I’m afraid because I’m not sure if there is something seriously wrong with me. What do you think?

      • Hello Bonnie,

        It’s really hard to say what’s going on here. Doubtful it is “serious” but again; hard to say. Does not really sound like something Tissue Remodeling would help.

        Dr. Russ

        PS Let me know if someone solves it.

  47. Erin

    Thank you for this article and the beautiful illustrations. You have described my life! Except for the fact that I have been dealing with fascia pain for 3 years and what I have told multiple doctors that I think are rib subluxations. I have other health issues as well which cause me chronic pain. But this pain! Oh. It is mainly thoracic mid to right side being the worst but is on both sides and lumbar. You can feel the fascia crunching under your fingers as you massage in this or that pain relieving cream which barely reaches it. But is crippling pain. I can’t do activities with my arms in front or over my head at all or lift anything. It’s awful. I am at a loss for what to do. The doctors here just give pills.

  48. Jeff

    I dislocated the 4th, 5th, and 6th ribs on my left side around 4yrs ago. I have found, since then, that if I turn a certain way or stretch my arms all the way back like I’m yawning and really stretching out, I get a breath-taking pain that shoots all the way into my left shoulder. Also, I’ve injured the same spot 2 additional times from very minimal contact and it’s very painful each time. Does this ever heal???

  49. chris

    HI, i fractured a few ribs on the job last Thanksgiving. Ever since I have been on workers comp. I have been seeing a Doctor that has run CAT scans,MRIs, and X Rays. Long story short ,its almost been a year and Im still having some very bad pains at my L4 and L5. It almost feels like my ribs are going to come out of joint at anytime. Is this Hyper-extended joints, or facia damage? I need answers, because my doctors don’t seem to have very much knowledge about this. Subluxation and Fascia damage definitely sounds like the Culprit. Who can I get to verify this for my law suit? Please help. If i don’t get answers ,I will be told I’m fine .I’m not fine!

    • Hello Chris,

      Unfortunately, when it comes to Fascial Injuries / Adhesions, your scenario is the norm. Out of sight, out of mind. Since most Fascia cannot be imaged well, your problem / pain is blamed on anything and everything other than what is really causing it.

      Dr. Russ

  50. Andrew

    This is a very good info. I have pain around my ribs for two years now, mostly including under the ribs. The myotherapist initially said it was an external oblique thing but could not treat the problem. All scans are perefectly normal. My reumatologist cannot find anything wrong. I visisted a guy who is a sensitive craniosacral therapits and he feels this is a ligament / fascia problem in the area. Unfortunately, not many specialists can treat this and physios where I live cannot understand what I am talking about…
    So, info like this give sme a clue of where to try to find out a problem which stays with me for 2 years now…

  51. Brian

    I’ve had a pain under my armpit at my rib for 2 weeks. Figured it was muscle strain. But always think something worse. Thanks for the info. I will go to a doctor if the pain gets worse, but it is getting better. First time with rib strain so feared the worst.

  52. Natasha

    Thank you for this insight. I recently had my 3rd child and my body just went wacky on me! I felt as if I was dying or about to! Anxiety didn’t help. I been having a lot of pain in my chest and 1st it was my stomach that was out of place due to my acid reflux that was full blown. I was constantly grabbing my breast area and under arm pits for the pain to go away. Pain going from left yo right side of my arm pain in my jaw…so yes I thought I was having heart attack. I’ve been going to chiro. Massage and holistic healing to figure out what the heck was going on. Also had a mini in office ekg and everything normal. I would constantly check my heart beat and it was always in good range. So finally my holistic chiro is putting me back in order moved my stomach back, and now moved most of my ribs back in place still have some ways to go but at least I’m not going crazy anymore!! I live in Oahu Hawaii do I wish I could see you but its a bit far…lol but thank you for your website, it really helped me understand my body and I’m not going crazy!
    Aloha from Hawaii – Tasha

  53. Barbara

    Thank you for helping me understand how easily the ribs and muscles attached to the ribs can be injured…I go to a very good Chiropractor who has explained it to me but seeing it here in your wording has put my mind at ease. I was trying to start up a stubborn leaf blower almost 2 years ago and noticed my left side near my ribs was very sore after constantly pulling the long string that starts the blower. I must have pulled it hard about 30 times. Didnt feel the pain till a day later and since have had a constant dull pain in the left side of my ribs and muscles. Sometimes I guess my adjustment is just right and the pain is gone but as soon as I proceed with my normal activities and exercise it comes right back dull nothing major and I can actually reproduce the pain with certain movements. Anyway that you for the explanation above it was a great help in calming my nerves that I have worried about this for the past 2 years!!!!

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