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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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Is severe pain near the upper ribs indicative of costochondritis?

Answered by
Dr. Sanjay Kini

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2009

Answered : 1355 Questions

Posted on Fri, 10 May 2019 in Abdominal Pain
Question: I'm having severe pain on my front left side. 4 inches down and 4 inches to my left is the middle of the pain. it hurts to touch that area it hurts to leanto the left front.3 days ago I had a pain that made it feel like my ribs were wearing a corsette
Answered by Dr. Sanjay Kini 52 minutes later
Brief Answer:

It may be costochondritis

Detailed Answer:


Was there any trauma to the area? You may need to meet an orthopedician and get an X-ray done to see if there is any injury to the ribs.

If not, it can be costochondritis. Still, you need to meet an orthopedician and get treated.

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone, or sternum.

The condition causes localized chest pain that you can reproduce by pushing on the cartilage in the front of your ribcage.

Costochondritis is a relatively harmless condition and usually goes away without treatment. The cause is usually unknown but may happen from increased activity involving the arms.

Costochondritis usually has no clear cause. Occasionally, however, costochondritis may be caused by:

1. Injury. A blow to the chest is one example.

2. Physical strain. Heavy lifting, strenuous exercise and severe coughing have been linked to costochondritis.

3. Arthritis. Costochondritis might be linked to specific problems, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.

4. Joint infection. Viruses, bacteria and fungi — such as tuberculosis, syphilis and aspergillosis — can infect the rib joint.

Consult an orthopedician.

Your doctor might recommend:

1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Although certain medications, such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) are available over the counter, your doctor might prescribe stronger varieties of these nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

2. Narcotics. If your pain is severe, your doctor might prescribe medications containing codeine, such as hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco) or oxycodone/acetaminophen (Tylox, Roxicet, Percocet). Narcotics can be habit-forming.

3. Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, are often used to control chronic pain — especially if it's keeping you awake at night.

Physical therapy treatments might include:

1. Stretching exercises. Gentle stretching exercises for the chest muscles may be helpful.

2. Nerve stimulation. In a procedure called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a device sends a weak electrical current via adhesive patches on the skin near the area of pain. The current might interrupt or mask pain signals, preventing them from reaching your brain.

It can be frustrating to know that there's little your doctor can do to treat your costochondritis. But self-care measures might make you feel more comfortable. They include:

1. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs pain relievers. Ask your doctor about using ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).

2. Heat or ice. Try placing hot compresses or a heating pad on the painful area several times a day. Keep the heat on a low setting. Ice also might be helpful.
Rest. Avoid activities that make your pain worse.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Dr Sanjay Kini, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad

The User accepted the expert's answer

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