When you suffer from pain in your ribs, you’ll often find that the pain can extend further back than that, in some cases actually causing you back pain too. This is actually common, and rather normal when you injure or cause damage to your ribs, because your rib cage is attached to your spine by several attachments made up of soft tissue. Bearing this in mind, back rib pain can often be confused as either back pain or rib pain, and in turn, this can make working out the root of the problem quite difficult.
In order to work out what is causing your back rib pain, you need to first work out the symptoms, pain aside.
Back Rib Pain Symptoms
If you have rib pain (and not just back pain), your back rib symptoms will often materialise in a few different ways. The pain itself might not be isolated to use one place alone and can often move around, or seem in a number roof different places, all at the same time.
The pain can be constant, intermittent, only when you move, and the pain itself can often change from a dull ache to a very sharp, stabbing pain, a soreness or tenderness just when you move or touch the area, a tearing pain, and more.
You’d think that the more pain there was, the more serious the injury would be but with back rib pain, this isn’t always the case. The pain can be very severe and intense but still be something relatively minor and simple to work out once you know what’s causing it.
Back Rib Pain Causes
In order to work out how to stop your back rib pain and to make life more bearable again, you’re first going to need to work out exactly what is causing the problem. You can continue to take painkillers and apply deep heat and other over-the-counter remedies but if you do not get to the root of the matter, the pain is likely to be ongoing starting with days, then weeks, then months.
A medical evaluation is essential to work out what’s causing your rib pain. Hoping it will go away is not something that will fix this particular medical problem and although the pain could be a minor injury, perhaps an over-stretched muscle, it could also be a sign of something more serious.
Let’s take a look at the root causes of back rib pain…
Starting with the less serious of all causes of back rib pain, muscle pains and strains are often likely reasons behind it.
Muscle Pain + Strain
The muscles in your chest, such as those attached to your chest wall, are pretty fragile despite having such strenuous work, so overzealous exercise or physical activity (such as living heavy boxes during moving house), can cause damage, particularly to the intercostals which are between the ribs themselves.
Repetitive movements can also cause muscle pain and strains.
Fractures of the Rib
If your pain has a tendency to get worse when you push or touch the affected area, take deep (or even shallow) breaths, or twist, contort and bend your body, your back rib pain could be cause by a fractured rib, especially if you’ve had an injury or incident recently.
If, after trauma to the rib or chest area, you experience sharp or dull pains when breathing or moving, and the pain seems to get worse or doesn’t go away after a couple of days (as you would expect a muscle strain to), it’s time to seek medical advice.
Contact sports, car accidents, falling over and falls can all cause fractures to the ribs.
This is a medical name for the commonly known cartilage inflammation which can often happen in the ribs and cause back rib pain. Generally, this will cause more pain in the front of the ribs rather than the back but the pain can spread throughout.
The cartilage is designed to lubricate the movements of your ribs when you move and breathe in and out but occasionally, it can become inflamed and when this happens, the area is very tender and the pain is usually very sharp and very sore.
If your back or rib pain tends to get worse when you place your body in certain positions (such as lying down on the bed), when you cough, sneeze, breathe deeply or laugh, and pressure on the area or physical activity makes it worse, you should seek medical advice.
Heart Attacks + Coronary Problems
Heart problems are one of the most serious and severe causes of back rib pain but can occur, especially in situation of heart attacks and even tearing of the aorta or large blood vessel of the heart.
When clots form in the blood especially around the lungs, painful breathing is often an associated symptom and this can often be confused with either back or rib pain.
If you have a history of heart problems, or you believe a heart problem could be the root cause, seek medical advice immediately.
There are a number of causes of back rib pain from gall bladder problems to vertebral subluxation and although there are a number of ways you can treat the problem, you do need to know what the cause is first.
If you are in any doubt, always seek medical advice.