Common symptoms, causes and treatments of rib pain
Costochondritis, commonly known as rib pain, is a result of the painful inflammation or the swelling of the joint which connects the ribs to the sternum or the breastbone. This joint is known as the costochondral joint. However, unlike another similar health condition is known as Tietze’s syndrome, is an illness that involves no swelling or inflammation of the other joints.
Symptoms of Costochondritis
Costochondritis results in a localized rib pain, which the patient can reproduce if they push the cartilage located in front of the rib cage. This disease is a relatively less harmful health condition. It generally tends to subside without any treatment. The definitive cause of rib pain is not known as of now. However, effective rib pain treatment requires accurate diagnosis.
Rib pain is quite a common health condition among young adults and children. For adults who suffer from chest pain, costochondritis is often considered a possible diagnosis. Most physicians tend to consider rib pain as a sign of some heart problem unless proven otherwise.
Rib pain treatment in adults generally involves a series of tests, performed in order to rule out chances of a heart disease. If the test results turn out to be normal and the physical examination has consistency with costochondritis, it may be the cause of your rib pain.
Causes of rib pain
The inflammatory process of rib pain or costochondritis has no specific cause. Minor trauma which is repeated on the walls of the chest or respiratory infections that are viral in nature may cause rib pain. Sometimes, costochondritis or rib pain is a result of certain bacterial infections. These infections are more likely to occur in people who take intravenous medicines or those who had surgery on their chest.
Effective rib pain treatment involves zeroing down upon the causes as a part of the diagnosis. The different kinds of infections which may cause costochondritis are:
- Viral infections
These are respiratory infections, which occur due to the swelling of the costochondral points, or from excessive coughing or straining.
Fungal infections are a rare cause of rib pain. However, doctors do not totally rule out the possibility of a fungal infection being the cause of rib pain or costochondritis.
Common signs of rib pain
- Rib pain which is concerned with costochondritis is typically known to occur after minor trauma, exercise, or an infection in the upper respiratory system.
- The rib pain is generally sharp and is located on the chest wall in front. It can also radiate to the back or the abdomen and is usually more common on the left side of the chest.
- The common pain sites are the 4th, 5th, and 6th ribs. The rib pain tends to increase if you move your trunk or try taking deeper breaths.
- You may feel a reproducible tenderness if you press the joints of your ribs. If you do not feel such tenderness, you are most likely to not be diagnosed with costochondritis.
When you should seek medical attention
You should urgently seek medical care if you experience any difficulty in breathing, or if any of the symptoms associated with rib pain occur to you. If you have a high fever which does not respond to medication, you should seek rib pain treatment without delay.
You should also look out for infection signs at tender spots. These signs include redness, pus, extreme pain, and inflammation. Chest pain of a persistent nature which is typically associated with a nauseous feeling, pain in the left arm and sweating may also indicate costochondritis. If you experience any generalized pain in the ribs which is not localized, you should be quick to seek medical care.
Effective treatment for rib pain
Rib pain treatment comprises of local care. This involves the usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen, as required. Applying ice or heat around the area that is affected may also be helpful towards relieving the pain. You should also avoid exercising unnecessarily or indulging in activities which tend to worsen these symptoms.
Rib pain usually responds to anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal medicines like ibuprofen. Your doctor may also give you an anesthetic of a local nature or a steroid injection in the affected area. The anesthesia and the injection are administered to the tender area if the pain doesn’t seem to respond to medicines.
Costochondritis which is infectious in nature must be initially treated with certain intravenous medicines. Your doctor will set up consultation sessions with you in order to determine the nature of your rib pain. Removal of the affected cartilage by surgery may be required if the rib pain does not respond to any available medical treatment. Your physician will recommend a surgeon for a consultation session if they consider it a necessary option.