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Digestive Disorders

Pain left rib

10/11/2006

Question:

I have a dull pain under my left rib. This has been going on for about 6 months. If I press on the rib it hurts. I can sometimes feel this pain radiate into my chest and lower back. At first, I thought that it was my heart but, it is not. I have taken several cardio test and everything was ok.

Recently, I notice that I have been experiencing acid reflux. I have been taken something for the acid reflux but, the pain has not gone away. I am in transition between health insurances and I am waiting for my insurance with blue cross to become effective.

Answer:

The fact that the pain hurts most when you press on the rib suggests you may have either a rib fracture or possibly inflammation of the rib. Did you injure yourself recently? Did you fall or get hit in the chest recently? Where exactly on the rib hurts the most? Do you have more pain on the outer part of the rib (near your arm) or more pain where the rib meets the breastbone?

If the pain is more intense where the rib meets the breastbone, you may have costochondritis or inflammation of the cartilage and bones in the chest wall. Costochondritis occurs when there is inflammation at the junction of the rib bone and breastbone (sternum). The cartilage can become irritated and inflamed causing chest pain.

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Response by:

Julia Gore Thornton, MD Julia Gore Thornton, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University