Sore Ribs – What Are The Common Causes?

There are many conditions that can cause sore ribs; some of which are obvious, like an injury to the upper body, while other causes, such as a chest infection, may be more difficult to detect. If you have been suffering from rib pain then it might be worthwhile to have a look at some of the common causes listed below. Whether or not you believe you may be dealing with one of the conditions discussed in this article, it’s always a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and corresponding treatment.

Injury or Trauma

One of the most obvious causes of sore ribs is injury to either a rib bone itself or to the muscle and soft tissues that surround the bones of your rib cage. Trauma, such as falling on your side or being hit or tackled in the chest area are very common scenarios that can result in physical damage to the rib bones. The initial worry after sustaining a serious blow is likely the fear of having a broken rib. Most of us tend to associate the term broken rib with a mental image of the it having physically snapped into two or more pieces. While this can actually happen, it is definitely now the most likely injury to occur.

Each of your rib bones is designed to possess a certain amount of “give.” This flexibility is the reason why they never snapped every time Aunt Ruth took you in for a dreaded bear-hug. That being said, it is definitely possible to fracture them, usually in the form of a crack that runs into the bone but not completely through it to cause a full break. The odd thing about a fractured rib is that many fractures often go undiagnosed because the patient assumes that he or she only bruised it and does not seek treatment for it. The type of symptoms that accompany a fracture, or cracked rib, are pain when breathing and when the injured rib is touched, limited range of movement, tenderness, and intense pain while coughing or sneezing. The worst of the pain will usually occur in the first week after the injury took place but dull pain and general discomfort can continue on for weeks after the initial injury.

Bruising is another issue that can arise from general pressure or trauma to the rib cage. In fact, due to the flexibility and resilience of these bones, you are more likely to sustain bruising instead of an actual fracture. The symptoms include tenderness, redness or other discoloration of the skin, spasms of the rib muscles, and difficulty breathing.


Costochondritis is a condition that isn’t necessarily considered to be common, but it does pop up from time to time. This is a condition in which the cartilage that joins the ribs to the sternum becomes inflamed. Inflammation causes the cartilage to swell which results in chest discomfort and sore ribs. If you were to have this condition, then you would find it painful to push against your chest and the portion of the ribs that joins to your chest bone. You might find it uncomfortable to take a deep breath and you may even notice a rise in skin temperature on your chest. Costochondritis is a condition in which more often than not, doctors do not discover what caused the inflammation to occur. Most cases of this condition also sort themselves out with the help of ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medication.

Acid Reflux

Although acid reflux doesn’t actually cause discomfort of the ribs themselves, it is a condition that can definitely cause your body to feel pain in the rib area. Acid reflux is most often caused by eating greasy, sugary, or caffeinated foods which upset the sphincter at the top of the stomach. The location of the sphincter is near the part of your chest where your rib cage splits, and when the sphincter allows acid into the lower esophagus you might experience a burning sensation near your ribs. In reality, the pain is occurring in your esophagus where the tissues here are unprotected against stomach bile, but we often say that our ribs are sore simply because of their proximity to the real source of irritation.

A good over-the-counter antacid is one of the best remedies for acid reflux. You might also be interested in trying at-home remedies that you can easily create from items commonly found in the home. A spoonful of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water is a great way to neutralize the acid in your stomach, thus preventing it from causing you further discomfort. You can also try guzzling a glass of fat-free milk for the same effect. If this is a condition that you experience on a frequent, recurring basis or if your condition doesn’t seem to improve with the use of store-bought medication, then you might want to speak o your doctor about obtaining a prescription-strength medicine.