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.). 


198 responses to “RIB TISSUE PAIN

  1. Raye

    Hi there,

    When I was in high school I was horse playing with a friend and my rib popped. I was fine for hours but later than night I became uncomfortable and then after a short 2 hours I was in unbearable pain and couldn’t breathe, I felt like my lung had been pierced. My mom brought me to the ER and I was given an Xray and an oxygen mask. The doctor told me I had only bruised it. Well.. it moves. All the time, lately it’s been everyday and it’s causing me a lot of discomfort. BTW my injury happened about 10 years ago now. It’s the rib located right under my right breast. If I lay on my back it feels like it falls inward. If I lay on my right side it feels like it’s falling outward. I have to position a pillow next to me to secure my rib. It moves sometimes from just taking a breath. If I exert myself I can’t even lift my arm because the pain will get so bad. But there’s also long stretches of time where it won’t bother me at all. I just don’t understand if it was only bruised why it’s moving? And is there something that can be done about this or is it just something I’m going to have to deal with the rest of my life?

    Thank you in advance for any advice you have for me!

    • Hello Raye,

      Although there could certainly be some tissue issues going on here, what you have is an instability. I am not sure what do do with ribs that constantly move around. Adjusting them does not last long and braces can cause lung drainage issues and pneumonia. Tissue Remodeling would be my first choice, but depending on how unstable it really is, it very well might not work.

      Dr. Russ

      • Raye

        I’m assuming tissue remodeling means surgery..? I’ve never had surgery before so that’s intimidating. Should I look into a specialist, and if so what kind? I rarely go to the doctors so I don’t even have a dr.’s office at the moment to be referred from.

      • It does not Raye,

        Read my page on Facial Adhesions on the top menu.

        Dr. Russ

  2. Olivia

    hello, I am a long distance runner and Ive had some sort of horrible pain underneath my ribs for some time now. Im only fifteen, but i run about 8 to 10 miles a day when in training. I notice the pain mostly when racing and going full pace. Its a sharp stabbing pain almost like a cramp, that also causes cramping in my neck. this continues after im done running and sometime i feel it faintly before, but it is worse when running. I alo feel a dull ache in my upper back or back of the ribs. At this point I am so lost, and no one seems to know what the problem is. Ive gotten an ultra sound, xray, and blood tests, but no one can figure out the problem.

  3. Alisha

    About 5 yrs ago I was reaching up to grab something of a shelf and I got a sharp pain in my upper right side rib area. For 2 days I couldn’t move without lots of pain. Now 5 yrs later I still have upper pain in ribs on the right side. Its more of a dull and achy pain now. I have noticed it hurts more with physical work . I have been to E.R. a few times and to my doctor. I have had s sonogram and blood work done and everything was normal. I also have anxiety and this just makes it worse. I’m always worried something serious is wrong.

  4. Louise

    Hi there!
    7 months ago I walked into a door handle. I had a sharp, momentary pain but no bruising. A week or 2 later, I had a sharp pain in my flank/waist area very near to where I walked in to the handle. This has slowly got worse and has now spread to my right rib cage. At the end of every day, I have a dull aching rib cage and this sharp flank pain. The more active I have been, the worse it is. It doesn’t affect my sleep (usually) and most mornings I am relatively pain free before it starts coming on again gradually. I’ve had an ultrasound, blood tests and a chest x Ray. I was told it is musculoskeletal BUT I am very worried… Would something musculoskeletal last this long without any sign of improvement? I’m so upset with it all and can’t get with my life with this constantly on my mind. I’d really appreciate your help. Thank you.

  5. Kay

    I have a “knot” at the base of my left rib cage that is painful to touch and hurts when laughing, sneezing, coughing and when lifting or when engaging strenuous activity. It hurts when I move the wrong way or lay on my left side a certain way. I have to be careful when sitting not to lean that direction or it will start hurting. I have had this for about 1 year, and I cannot recall any trauma to the area. It is not a severe pain, but it is painful and annoying. When I first noticed it my GP ordered xrays, ultrasound and a ct scan with contrast. None of these tests showed anything. I’ve also had an upper GI and a colonoscopy to rule out bowel or digestion problems. Yesterday I saw a general surgeon who immediately said it was Tietze’s Syndrome from a cartilage rib tip fracture and I was feeling pain from the nerves rubbing when I move and that it would never get any better. He said I could deal with it or have surgery to remove the cartilage and nerve but there was no guarantee it would work. I have read about Tietze’s Syndrome and it seems to affect the first 4 ribs. My pain/knot is at the base of my rib cage where the rib is not attached to my sternum. I am wondering if I need a second opinion. I’m not convinced of my diagnosis. I am having a really hard time finding anything online that explains my condition.

  6. Gabriela

    About 10 years ago, I was sitting in the front seat of my car and due to an emergency, I had to hurridly twist and reach into the backseat and immediately felt a sharp pain in my rib area. I don’t remember if it was the left or right side because this pain has occurred on both sides. The pain is so sharp and I can’t do anything to alleviate it. The pain will subside after a minute, then I can feel it starting again and it starts over. The pain lasts a minimum of 15 minutes and then goes away, leaving my rib area sore. The pain is to the side and right below my breast area. It happens when I twist my torso or when reaching too far for something. It also occurs when I am singing loudly. I just found your website and wondered if you could help me. Is this something that I will always have to deal with?!

    • Could certainly be a tissue issue Gabriela. Unfortunately, I never really know if I can help someone until I actually examine and treat them. The great thing is that you’ll know in one treatment if it is a success or not.

      Dr. Russ

  7. Laurie

    I stumbled across your website googling rib pain. My left lower rib sticks out in the front and more noticeable when I lay down..I carry my 32 pound 2 year old on my hip daily and wonder if that’s not contributing. I have been to urgent care frequently in a panic thinking it’s sinister but have had normal xray. I have a pain in that ribcage.not horrible but nagging. I’ve been working with a phenomenal chiro who thinks I have intercostal neuritis. I should also add I have a desk job where I’m at computer for 8 hours a day and sit with bad posture. Intercostal neuritis sound right?

    • Hello Laurie,

      Just remember that your doctor can not tell whether or not you are dead or alive by looking at an X-ray. Generally speaking, X-rays show one tissue and one tissue only — bones. It is doubtful your problem is actually arising from bones (although it is certainly possible). As for it being IN, could be but I doubt it.

      Dr. Russ

  8. Helen

    I was thrown off a horse at speed one month ago. I landed heavily on my right side which winded me to the point I couldn’t breath for a short time. I broke my wrist too but that’s healing. The paramedics checked my ribs and said none were broken just bruised. After two weeks of uncomfortableness it settled down. But yesterday I got an immense stabbing pain in my right side exactly where I landed. If I touch the area it’s sore and if I lay back on a pillow it’s like a knife is being twisted in between the ribs. Any ideas? ?

    • Hello Helen,

      The thing about ribs is that whatever is wrong with them can give exquisite pain. Yesterday’s long-distance patient was a woman who had taken a terrible fall onto her butt and side three years ago, and broken five ribs. She was left with terrible residual pain that resolved immediately on treatment.

      Dr. Russ

  9. JoeG

    i fell very hard from about 6-7 feet up (trampoline park chasing my 6 year old jumping pretty high) right on my back, impact was on right side maybe 4 inches right of my spine. IT HURTS SO BAD. everyone said its a broken or cracked rib, get an xray just to be sure you’re not in danger of a punctured lung, advil and ice and get through it-i did and there is no break. What else could possibly make this hurt so bad. I can’t take deep breaths, it kills when I cough, and dull soreness never ends. its localized too, maybe about 4 inch wide circle of fire pain.

    • Hello Joe,

      The thing to understand about ribs is that no matter what is wrong with them (bruised, cracked, broken, tissue issue, etc, etc) they will make you think you are dying; usually because it hurts so much to breathe. I quit x-raying ribs in my office over two decades ago because no matter what is wrong, there is no real medical tx for them. As for the possibility of puncturing a lung…. These sorts of injuries typically — at least in a young, healthy, adult male — will rarely if ever caused the “shattered” rib so many people are so worried about. Shattered ribs will typically be seen in horrendous traumas such as MVA’s.

      Dr. Russ

  10. Lucita

    A couple years ago I got bronchitis and coughed and sneezed so much that I weakened my chest wall. Well one day I sneezed and felt a pop in my right rib cage under my right breast. I couldn’t breath as it knocked the wind out of me. I went in for xrays they found nothing. They diagnosed me with popped cartridge. I can stretch, breath, lay down and it will hurt. I can lay on my stomach and feel it pop. About a year after that I got an MRI done that showed nothing as well. I went to a chiropractor and he told me I more unlikely have scar tissue. He sent me to a massage therapists. She found out that my scar tissue basically takes up the ribs below and above my right breast. So I was wondering is there any at home naturalistic remedies?

    • Hello Lucita,

      What you have been through is actually fairly common, and could just as easily be Fascia as Cartilage. My experience is that if the problem is caused by Scar Tissue and Fascial Adhesion, supplements or “remedies” aren’t the answer. You’ll have to find someone to deal with this mechanical problem mechanically. And make sure you are dealing with any Systemic Inflammation you might have as well, as Inflammation always leads to Fibrosis (Scar Tissue) — HERE.

      Dr. Russ

  11. Kelly

    3 years ago, I had a child. When I was pregnant he stayed up under my right ribs mostly and it was very painful. When I was in labor, he was still partly under there and with every contraction my lower right ribs would bulge outwards and the nurses would be pushing them back in. I had a lot of pain after that, and started feeling a fullness behind my lower right rib cage. 3 years later, I still have very tender spots in 2 ribs and in the tissue between them, as well as the pressure and fullness behind the rib cage. All of this makes it uncomfortable to sit down or lay in certain positions. My GP wouldn’t do any x-rays and says the fullness probably isn’t my liver since my blood levels are fine. Just told me to deal with it basically. Could the pain and pressure behind the ribs be from when I was in labor?

    • Hello Kelly,

      To answer your question, yes. Pregnancy and delivery can both be quite easy, but have the potential to wreak all sorts of physical havoc. I routinely see Piriformis Syndrome or similar that started after having a baby.

      Dr. Russ

  12. mca63

    Hi! I slipped and fell 14 days ago. I twisted my body during the fall so I could use my hands to catch me. A few days maybe as many as 5, I began to feel pain in my left side, lowest rib at junction of where it meets the spine. It then radiates thru out the thickness of my waist and huts in the front as well. Could it be a sprain from twisting? I’m surprised it’s hurting like this for so long.
    Thank you Doctor.

  13. andy cummins

    I have been having severe pain in
    My ribs for 8 9 months right side. I’ve had 3 ultra sounds and a
    Colonoscopy my gp
    Believes it’s liver pain but the pain is never localised its in my ribs pressure under my ribs when I sit down I’m certain pain is from
    My ribs but can’t convince them. It also set off when I raise my right arm up and forward

  14. Marjorie

    Two years ago I had abdominal aortic aneurism repair. I still have discomfort in the left rib area where the incision was made. Also I have copd. I’m exhausted and can’t get relief. I’ve been to doctors and a pain clinic, had massage, acupuncture and nothing helps.

    • Hello Marjorie,

      Likely a Scar Tissue problem. If you go to my Doctor Schierling site, you will see that in many cases, body work such as massage or other similar, must be intense in order to break down the adhesion.

      Dr. Russ

  15. Donna

    I have unbelievable swellng, the right side of my thoracic is always higher than the left, I swell out the sides of my ribs, like I’m full of fluid, a massage therapist told me that..and I sleep on my back and the pain on my right wakes me, all I can do is take meds and sit up and wait.
    I’ve been in many mvas, 3 trucks, nine cars, my spine is a mess, and I have tumors, which I’m told are from being slammed n calcium filled, I cant seem to find a doctor that has a clue!! I’m in need of relief..thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s the short version!
    I was reading the comment below, I also had a fall landing on my back!

    • Hello Donna,

      I would say that your best option would be to read the post on my Doctor Schierling site called CHRONIC PAIN SOLUTIONS….

      Dr. Russ

  16. Stephen

    Hi, I play rugby and when the season finished all I was doing was heavy weights for the past 4months though the off season with no cardio because I wanted to gain weight and now the season is upon us I started my cardio work with high intensity and I have been getting pains all across my chest, ribs and lower back, what do you think this is and can I prevent it?

    • Hello Stephen,

      I must say that I am not sure what might be causing this. Could be an over tightening or Densification of the Fascia. If you find out, please drop a line back by and let us all know.

      Sincerely, Dr. Russ

  17. Ashley


    I’m a 24-year-old female and I’ve been having pain on both outer sides of my lower ribs for approximately three years now. I believe the pain initially started when I suffered a minor fall but did land on my ribs. The pain is much less intense on my right side. My ribs on my left side get especially tender and if I press on my middle to lower ribs it is really painful. It seems to come in waves. It is always a bit sore but there are definitely times it will worsen for a few weeks at a time and it hurts to wear and restrictive clothing along my ribs. Even laying down on my left side is painful and if I stretch too far back it pulls and is tender. When I do any kind of physical exercise, play baseball or paddle board, not over exerting, my left side ribs kill even if I take it easy.

    Would going to a chiropractor help? My ribs on my left side do stick out a bit more than my right side ribs, could that be contributing to the pain? Are there any kind of exercises/stretches I can do to help this?

  18. Ashlyn

    I got pushed on a cement floor on my back now my right shoulder and breast and armpit hurts when i move certain ways or cough etc. I don’t think its my bone what could it be and should i go to er because it hurts to breath. I’m 18 and average weight 5’7

    • Never against someone going to the ER, but this might be better served by seeing a chiro. Sounds like you not only have a rib issue, but are having some radicular symptoms into your arm / shoulder from your neck / upper back.

      Dr. Russ

  19. Sue

    Firstly I want to say thank you for such an informative site!

    I am 34 yo and fell down an escalator a week ago. Since then I have had bad pain just under my right breast, along part of my rib cage. I don’t believe I have broken anything as have pushed on my bones and pain doesn’t worsen but it hurts more when I move in certain positions, cough etc.

    In your learned opinion is this tissue trauma or a strain and is it something that I should accept will heal in time?

    Thanks, Sue

  20. ness

    I am active mom of 34. I ve noticed everytime I do pushups I suffer for weeks with a pain in my left side where my bra line is.
    This has been an issue for me for the last 8 months.

  21. Amanda

    I’ve had sever back pain episodes for about 4 years now. I’m 29 years old and I’ve gone to my PCP who told me it was fibromyalgia and a Chiropractor that said he can’t see anything wrong. The pain is random and I can go days to months with no episodes to where I will have episodes day after day. The pain seems to be worse when I might be a little hungry (weird). It starts from the bottom of my sternum flows through 4-7 ribs and seems to wrap around like a pair of arms into my T-8 area and radiates out. It’s like a burning pain deep in my bones. I can’t move or take deep breaths durning the attacks. If I slightly move my fingers the pain just flares up. I’ve tried stretching, heating pads, ibuprofen, had muscle relaxers at one time but that didn’t seem to help and is really inconvenient trying to keep up with my three young boys. Nothing works except for riding it out. Episodes last for about 1-2 hours. I’m tired of living with the pain and am looking for a direction to relief or cure.

    Any direction is greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Amanda,

      Has the chiro adjusted you? Sometimes — perhaps quite often —- there is nothing obviously wrong, but things are not quite moving freely. There is no downside to an adjustment to this part of your spine one way or another.

      Dr. Russ

  22. SA

    I was rear ended ~2 years ago (20 months) and have been experiencing mid back pain ever since. The pain is on my right side Thoracic around T8-T10. The pain is at it’s worst when I sleep more than 4 hours on my back and then I wake up in a lot of pain. I can feel the pain more when I take deep breaths and especially when I twist to the side or bend to the side. I have been to a chiro, physical therapy (3 different times), gotten joint injections, massages, etc. Not even slight improvement. I went to a rib specialist who said my rib cage on the right feels like it doesn’t expand/contract evenly like the left side does. I guess they “hesistate” due to the pain/injury. I have been seeing a PT for rib mobilization therapy for the last few weeks but condition has not improved (yet). One thing I have noticed is that the pain is very strong when he pushes on my actual rib (#8 give or take). So this got me thinking that it is definitely rib related. For the last 2 years, i’ve been thinking it was spine or muscle related. Could this be a sublaxed rib? Or maybe the tissue or ligaments?

  23. David


    For the last 6 years, I’ve dealt with pain under the lower ribs on my left side. There is no pain in my waking life but as soon as I lay down it starts as a dull ache, goes to a mild pinch, and, the longer I lay prone, escalates to a shooting pain with a deep inhale.
    I’ve been unable to sleep on my back for over 4 years and, as it gets worse, toss and turn continuously through the night to ease the pain. Pain is under the lower 4 ribs on my left side roughly 6 inches from the sternum. Hard to tell if the pain is located in the intercostals as it sometimes feels to becoming from the tissue underneath the ribs themselves, even the diaphragm at times. That said, I don’t think it’s a muscle tear as I can take as deep a breath as I like or cough for 30 seconds straight with no pain while upright and active. Pain only comes from laying flat for upwards of a minute.
    Have had x-rays, and a CT scan, nothing popped up. Have tried anti inflammatory regiments to no avail. Only success was moderate relief after extensive acupuncture treatments.
    Best analysis was chostocondritis but this condition has persisted far longer than a typical case, and being a male, I know it’s far less common. I have consulted with multiple medical professionals about this and come up empty on either a specific diagnosis, or, more importantly, a plan of attack for lowering my rib pain.

    Any advice?

    • Hello David,

      Sounds like another likely case of Rib Tissue adhesion. As you know, most of these Connective Tissues do not show up on CT or MRI. Plan of attack? Find someone in your area doing some sort of intense body work or Tissue Remodeling.


  24. Joseph

    I have now at this point been having severe pain on and off in my lower left ribs that runs into my back. At some points the pain is so severe I am in tears. I have been in and out of the e.r. for the past couple months. 3xs in my county,and once in another county. Been to my doctor several times also. I have no insurance and my bills continue to rack up. My third or four rib is bulging from the front to the back and the sticko mg out considerably. I have had cat scans done one with contrast and one without. Several blood test of many sorts and several urinalysis. They can find nothing. So bad at one point I had to cf all an ambulance to cone get me. They say everything is working fine. I have been sent ho.me with uti consochondritis and have been told to see a gift which I was supposed to be referred to and never was. I went to the e.r. yesterday cried to them told them I do not want their pain medicine and just wanted help even though I told them my pain was a ten on the scale. Was sent home once again with costrochondritis. Where at this point I became very annoyed and angry. I also had one doctor tell me he thought I had a huge hiatal hernia. Not sure what is going on but my quality of life is pretty much down to nothing and I cannot do any extracurricular activity for more than fifteen minutes without feeling like I am dying. I don’t know what to do anymore I asked them to please not release me and they told me I had to meet a certain criteria to be kept…please help.

    • Not surprised they are not finding anything. This is fairly standard with Tissue problems. The problem is, it is almost impossible for me to tell you what’s wrong via an email. Could be tissue, could be something else.

      Dr. Russ

  25. Payton

    Hi, I was just looking up causes for my back pain and this was the most realistic.. This is going to sound ridiculous but when I was younger (about 4 years ago), I asked my friend to step on my back. I didn’t think it was much of a problem because I was young and didn’t know better. I couldn’t move very much after she did it , it hurt to even breathe.. Of course I just thought she stepped in the wrong place so I left it alone until i was practically in years for a few days with any sudden movements. When I told my parents they said “it would feel better when it stops hurting” so I had to bear it out. Through the years the pain wasn’t as frequent, but it still was the same pain. When I got it checked last year, I was sent to go get an X-ray and all they told me was that nothing was broken an I was sent home. Great hospital. Now, I’ve been in chronic pain for over a week and I’m not sure why it’a acting up and mor frequent. I’ve fixed my posture, and when I try to stretch I can’t breathe. I’m not sure what it is or what I should do because when I tried to get help before this I was given minimal information, having to deal with this pain that limited me from playing soccer for the past years. Please let me know if you have any advice or opinions. Thank you !

  26. Drey

    I just discovered my problem only 20 minutes ago. I was sitting sideways in this booth at my job with my elbow up on the small breaker box. When I leaned against one of the ribs right below my right armpit against the box I got a mild shooting pain that kind of went into my right arm, and now said arm feels a little weak. It pretty much only hurts when i press that area. I didn’t even know I had this problem until just now! Any thoughts?

    • Scott

      Hello Dr. Schierling,

      I suffered a pretty severe blow to my chest a little over a year ago. It literally took my breathe away for a bit when it occurred. I thought nothing of it and figured I had bruised it and it would go away. But here I am like I stated a little over a year and still sore and tender with moments of shortness of breathe. In the last month or so, the pain spiked to the point that I felt as if I was having a heart attack. I submitted myself in the E.R. and their diagnosis was costochondritis. They gave me some Motrin, Naproxen, and Benadryl and told me it should clear up in a few weeks! Um wrong again, pain is still as present as the day it had happened. I do have several pinched nerved in my lower back and neck. Could the three be related in any way? I have scheduled appointments to see a neurologist, heart specialist, and even mental health (can’t hurt!, pun intended!). All I want is this chronic pain to go away. Any advice?

    • Drey,
      Not to make light of your situation, but your “problem” started 20 minutes ago. I deal with people whose lives have been decimated by months, years, or even decades of chronic, hardcore, pain. If you are still struggling in six weeks, drop me a line. In the meantime, do some stretches, use some ice, and make a visit to your local chiro.

      Dr. Russ

  27. Ally

    Hi there,
    I strained my ribs after a serious bout of bronchitis in feb. They took 6 weeks to improve but never went back to 100%. I continued to experience twinges but now the pain has flared. It is mainly under my left breast where the underwire of my bra is and occasionally radiates up and into my side. I feel occasional twinges on the right side. It is not the acute pain I initially experienced but a bit like a stitch. Saw a physio who found that my intercostal are painful but a couple of sessions have not helped and he said ribs are difficult to treat. Pain is worse when seated without back support and goes on rest- seems to be worse by the end of the day. I never have pain in bed or overnight. I have had a chest X-ray, blood test & abdominal ultrasound- no findings can explain the pain. I am really interested in your thoughts.

    • Hello Ally,
      When it comes to ribs, always look first to the “Big Three”. See a chiro to make sure your ribs are not subluxated (locked up and / or out of place), have some sort of massage or Tissue Remodeling done, and make sure you are eating an anti-Inflammatory Diet.

      Good luck,
      Dr. Russ

  28. Shannon

    I have intermittent pain on left side, upper ribcage/armpit around to ball under shoulder blade. Sitting seems to aggrevate this. Gets worse as day goes on, gets better if I lay down for a while or over night. Sometimes hurts every day for weeks, sometimes doesn’t hurt for weeks. Rubbing the muscles helps some, but can definitely tell that’s where pain is coming from when pressure is applied. Any idea what this could be?

  29. Chris Scharner


    I am having chronic backpain for almost 3 years now. Usually when i get up in the morning it`s gone. But as the day goes on and the more i stand (espescially when i stand long periods of time without sitting) or do any kind of sport, the more it starts hurting. But as i said, the pain is almost always gone the next day.

    The ache is typically on the rigth upper-mid back (sidestring of the spine or between the ribs, i cant tell for sure). Sometimes i think i cant go on anymore because it hurts so much. In the last 6 months the pain also appeared on the frontside of the ribcage, by the last set of ribs. I dont know why but they became really flexible and make popping sounds when moved. The pain is underneath them i would say. Any ideas what this could be. I have tried several doctors and they all said there is nothing wrong, They did CTR, X-Rays and a Osteopath adjusted me but nothing worked.

    Hope for an answer. Thank you

  30. Anni

    Hi Doc,

    I experience pain in my upper left back which I just discovered is a rib problem. The osteopaths are confused as to my treatment. The pain is a sharp one and when it’s bad, it radiates to my left arm and I have this numb and tingly feeling. Sometimes pins and needles.
    This had been going on for over 10yrs. It was only 3mths ago I was told a rib problem.
    What do I do? I have desk job so I sit quite alot. I exercise well although I am limited in some areas.

    Any thoughts?

  31. Brieanna

    Hello! I am 18 years old and have been experiencing similar pains ever since I was about 12. It began as an annual shoulder pain that occurred for a little under a week. I remember many a school night where I would lie awake crying due to its intensity, that seemed to increase with every breath and movement. Despite swelling and the fact that it was recurring, my doctors have always diagnosed me as a-okay.

    To my frustration the pain gradually became more frequent, and eventually spread to my ribs. However, after those 2-7 days of pain subsides I wouldn’t feel it until it’s next episode.

    Now, whenever I lay on my side my ribs and shoulders begin to ache. I will wake up in awful pain, that will almost immediately subside once I change positions.

    I understand that a proper diagnosis would be difficult without a proper doctor’s appointment, but I’m curious as to whether any one can relate or has any idea of what shenanigans my body is pulling.

    Thank you for reading!

  32. Vicky Buzzetto

    So I too have this little twinge/pinch that I randomly get between by left breast bone and rib cage. I am 56 yr old woman and healthy. I do a ton of yoga which can get very twisty. I can’t even say it’s a pain as much as a sensation or pinch. I don’t know what to think of it. Some days I have it on and off all day, then other times it totally goes away… any thoughts?

  33. Sarah

    Hi, I’m 22 years female and I’m experiencing a lot of sharp pain under my rib cage on the side and I’m a bit sore in the middle above my stomach in the middle if my rib cage when I push down.. I’ve also been hearing poping sounds and I’m finding it hard to sleep because it’s painful. Could it just be gas or something I’m eating. I get like this at least one or twice a week.. Normally the pain in on my right side abdomen but sometimes it moves. Not sure if it’s the same thing.. I’ve been going to the doctor for nearly two years about stomach pain but he doesn’t know what’s wrong.. I find it hard to eat a lot after 7pm (I’m a little stressed out at the moment could this be it) I’m just so sick of having pains in my stomach, abdomen and rib cage area.

    • Sarah

      Left side* (had it for a few days now)

      • Hello Sarah,

        You might have two different things going on (one of them being musculoskeletal), but my guess is that you have some sort of sensitivity. Go to my Doctor Schierling site and start using the search bar to look at things like Inflammation. You might be Gluten Sensitive. You might have an issue with Hypochlorhydria (too little stomach acid) or any other issues. If you’ve never done a Paleo Diet, try one for a month and see if it makes a change.

        Dr. Russ

  34. Lucretia Cummings

    Hello, I am a 50 year old female that has been suffering with rib cage and actually all of my chest and below the rib cage Pain and deep burning. had my gallbladder removed 2 years ago because they thought that was the problem, the surgeon said I had massive amounts of scar tissue, I’m still in pain and even having pancreatitis. (I’m not a drinker) Dr’s have no answers, my c reactive proteins are more than 10 times what is high risk on the blood work. I have been sent to pain management with no answers. It hurts to push on my ribs and deep breaths kill me.

    • Hello Lucretia,

      A CRP that is ten times higher than normal is a huge red flag. You absolutely need to start reading my posts on INFLAMMATION and their relationship to Scar Tissue (Fibrosis). Although the medical community can easily measure CRP, there are no drugs that really affect it. And because doctors are rarely serious about urging patients to make very specific lifestyle changes, you are left in the lurch.

      Dr. Russ

      • Lucretia

        Thank you so much for replying. Your article has been a huge help to me.. I understand now a lot about my inflammation. I have also suffered from IBS all my life with no answers just lots of tests from the Dr’s. I am printing this off to take to my Dr. and now discuss with him what I’m needing to do to get healthier. I sweat 24/7 and am wet and clammy due to the severe pain I suffer from. None of the Dr’s have admitted that my clammy sweats are associated it my severe pain. When I sit on the examination table at the Dr;s office I leave a wet spot of my entire thighs and butt. So embarrassing.

      • Head over to my DoctorSchierling.com site and do a search on “Sympathetic Dominance”. Sweating is not entirely sympathetic, but these two articles should shed some light.

        Dr. Russ

  35. Dr.vikram veggalam

    Hello doctor.
    I am a surgeon by profession aged 31 years. male . Long hours of standing in theatre.past 2 years am experiencing excruciating pain in my last rib left side.now since few days am unable to perform activities. Deep breathin also causing pain at tip of the last rib. The tip is very tender. Along with this am having in left rhomboids. There is slight kyphosis towards left.no history of trauma to rib. Kindly suggest remedy to this issue.any kind of investigation kindly suggest
    Thanking you

    • Hello Dr. V,

      I do not have anything to offer as far as a test. I would try getting adjusted first and if that does not make a big difference, I would then seek out someone well versed in bodywork.

      Dr. Russ

    • back96

      Curious….do you drop to your knees at times bcs you can’t hold up your torso? This happens to me and hurts like heck for hours (then goes away), especially after certain standing stretches. I can’t take a deep breath either. I use magnesium oil…it’s the only thing that helps me. My quadatus lumborum is full of trigger points, post. serratus too…..leaning forward is the problem. I get them worked on by a TP specialist when I have money to do so. Strengthening the back and core is supposed to help…it does a bit, but not that much. Side streches help too. Topical Mg oil does the trick better for me….but it’s an irritant to the skin.

  36. bcn1975

    First of all, I am very happy to have found this site. I have been receiving treatment for back pain for a few months now at a rehabilitation clinic for curvature in my spine and misaligned hips. Just recently, I have been having more night time pain that keeps me awake at night. When I lie on my side, my ribs (more specifically, the muscles between my 9th -12th ribs are hurting so much it keeps from sleeping. If I lie on my back, my lumbar is in enough pain to keep me from sleeping. The type of treatments I am receiving include massage, stretching, and strengthening (very seldom will i receive a chiropractic adjustment. My question is two-fold. First, could the realigning of my spine be causing these muscles to be tense. In other words, am I going to hurt more, before I get better. Second, if this is an unlikely cause, then, what could it be, and what do you recommend to help me sleep. (during the day, it is much better…lying down is the painful times)

    • Glad to have helped you via our site Benjamin. Answer #1 is yes, potentially. However, it could simply be a case of adhesed fascia. Head over to my Doctor Schierling dot com site and take a look at my Fascia page on the top menu.

      Dr. Russ

  37. 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?

  38. 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?

  39. 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.

  40. 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?

  41. 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

  42. 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

  43. 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.

  44. 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

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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

  49. 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?

  50. 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”

  51. 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?

  52. 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

  53. 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?

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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,

  63. Jazz Selby

    Are you in england?

  64. 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?

  65. 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

  66. 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 ;+)

  67. 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

  68. 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

  69. 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?

  70. 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.

  71. 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

  72. 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.

  73. 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…

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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!

  79. 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?

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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???

  85. 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

  86. 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…

  87. 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.

  88. 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

  89. 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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