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As sharp pain in the rib cage after sneezing or coughing. Cracked a rib? Torn cartilage?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
I was sitting up and leaning slightly to my left side. I sneezed and immediately felt a sharp "pop" of pain in my left lower rib cage. It caused me to double over. It has been about 90 minutes and it feels like a constant, dull pain/tightness. However, if I sneeze/cough or twist incorrectly, I am in immediate serious pain.

I do believe I may have cracked a rib or torn cartilage. I am an athlete with many sports-related injuries. But, I don't know what this is and I am thinking about going to the hospital.

I am a 38 yr old male, 5'7", 200lbs.
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 14 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

Rib fracture due to sneezing can occur in people who have osteoporotic bones and in elderly people. It does not look like a rib fracture in your case and can be a pulled muscle or pinched nerve. Fracture rib can occur in young men when you have a hard impact to the chest such as an elbow.

I suggest you to apply cold compresses on the area and take some anti-inflammatory pain killers like Ibuprofen after prescription from your doctor.

Give complete rest to the part and avoid doing any activity like raising your arms or twisting the body which causes any further damage. Application of topical muscle relaxants also help.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us.

Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up query.

Wishing you good health.

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