Rib cage pain on both sides may be sharp, dull, or achy and felt at or below the chest or above the navel on either side. It might happen after an apparent injury or without description.
Rib cage pain on both sides can be due to anything from pulled muscles to a rib fracture. This pain might happen right away upon injury or establish slowly over time. It can also be a sign of a hidden medical condition, so you should report any instance of unexplainable rib cage pain to your doctor instantly.
What Causes Rib Cage Pain on Both Sides?
The most typical causes of rib cage pain on both sides are a pulled muscle or bruised ribs. Other causes of pain in the rib cage area are:
- damaged ribs
- injuries to the chest
- rib fractures
- diseases that affect the bones, such as osteoporosis
- swelling of the lining of the lungs
- muscle spasms
- inflamed rib cartilage
How Is Rib Cage Pain Diagnosed?
When you see a doctor, explain the kind of pain you’re experiencing and the motions that make the pain even worse. The type of pain you’re experiencing as well as the area of pain can help the doctor identify which tests will assist them make a medical diagnosis.
If your pain began after an injury, your doctor might order an imaging scan such as an X-ray. An X-ray can show evidence of fractures or abnormalities in the bones. If there are any problems on your X-ray, such as an abnormal development, your doctor will buy a soft tissue imaging scan, such as an MRI. An MRI scan gives the doctor a comprehensive view of the rib cage and surrounding muscles, organs, and tissue.
If your pain is chronic, your doctor may order a bone scan. A doctor usually buys a bone scan if they feel that bone cancer may be causing the pain. For this evaluation, your doctor will inject you with a radioactive material called a tracer. Your doctor then uses a special camera to scan your body for the tracer. The image from this electronic camera will highlight any problems in your bones.
What Are the Treatment Options for Rib Cage Pain?
The recommended treatment for rib cage pain on both sides depends on the cause of the pain. If the rib cage pain results from a small injury such as a pulled muscle or bruise you can utilize a cold compress on the area to decrease swelling. If you’re in significant pain, you can also take over the counter (OTC) pain relievers such as Tylenol.
If a rib fracture or busted ribs are triggering the pain and OTC medication isn’t really working, your doctor will recommend pain relief medications. You might also get a compression wrap. A compression wrap is a huge, flexible plaster that twists around your chest. The compression wrap holds the area tightly to avoid further injury and greater pain. However, these covers are needed in uncommon cases because the tightness of the compression wrap makes it hard to breathe. This can enhance your danger of pneumonia.
If bone cancer is triggering the pain, your doctor will go over treatment options with you based on the area of the cancer, whether it has spread, or if there are any abnormal developments present. Your doctor may recommend surgery to eliminate unusual growths.
Sometimes, medical removal isn’t possible or might be too dangerous. In these cases, the doctor may opt to shrink them using chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Once the growth is little enough, they might then remove it surgically.
When to See Your Doctor
Rib cage pain may appear without any movement. You might likewise experience sharp pain when breathing in or when moving into a specific position.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe pain when breathing in or moving your body into a certain position, or if you have any problem breathing. If you feel pressure or have pain in your chest along with rib cage pain, look for emergency assistance. These symptoms may be the sign of an impending heart attack.
Call 911 if you’ve recently fallen and you have trouble and pain upon breathing, in addition to considerable bruising in your chest area.
How Can I Prevent Chest Pain on Both Sides?
You can avoid rib cage pain on both sides due to muscle stress or sprains by extending your muscles, using workout equipment correctly, and remaining hydrated. If a health problem such as COPD or cancer is triggering your rib cage pain, get lots of rest and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Self-care treatments, such as using ice to injuries or taking hot baths to unwind, can also help prevent pain.