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Pain in ribs, hard lump in xiphoid process after fall. How long will pain last? What is the problem?

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Cosmetic & Plastic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2000
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I suffered a fall 3 months ago and landed on the side of my left ribcage. I had pain in my ribs for over a month and noticed i have a hard lump where my xiphoid process is located. I have been expieriencing radiating pain in chest, back, shoulders and stomach and expierience pain sometimes in ribcage in the same spot that hurt after falling 3 months ago, normally that pain i feel is when twisting or getting out of bed. What could be the problem and how long does pain last. The pain is normally dull and annoying. I can sometimes press on lump and hear a kind of popping sound and hurts if i press on it hard. It also feels like i have radiating tender spots in back and ribcage that hurt if i touch them. Other than the radiating pain and discomfort i feel good and not expieriencing any other problems.
Posted Fri, 12 Apr 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Souvik Adhikari 5 hours later

Thanks for your query.

In your query you have not mentioned whether you have had an X-ray of your chest following your fall but from your symptoms it appears that you might have had fractures of the ribs on the side where you encounter the fall.

Ribs join to the xiphoid process in the front so that during an injury and associated rib fracture, the joint with the xiphoid might break and the end of the rib might project in front of the chest leading to the development of a lump in the region of the xiphoid.

I am specifically considering rib fracture in your case because the pain has not relented even after a period of 3 months. Any other sort of pain which involves trauma to the soft tissues only usually resolves by this period but bony injuries tend to cause pain for longer duration of time (a couple of months).

If you feel considerable pain on the side of your rib cage then you can benefit from taking analgesics as also strapping of the chest wall which would decrease the chest movement by a process of splinting and thereby decrease pain.

However, I would suggest that you first go and XXXXXXX your surgeon and also get an X-ray done to confirm the diagnosis. Only then can specific therapy be administered.

Hope I answered your query.
All the very best!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in ribs, hard lump in xiphoid process after fall. How long will pain last? What is the problem? 3 hours later
Woudn't a fracture of a rib be more painful. I have had a broken rib before and was more painful. The pain i feel in chest area is mild and annoying. I also have mild pain on the right side under lowest rib a few inches away from my xiphoid. Would a injury of this kind cause pain in back and neck region. If it is a fracture to the xiphoid would that cause tender spots and radiating back and upper stomach pain, and what would the popping sound be when i push on the lump on xiphoid.
Answered by Dr. Souvik Adhikari 4 hours later
Yes, but the degree of pain varies considerably depending on the location of the fracture: areas that are subjected to more movement would experience more pain than areas which are covered under strong muscles.

The articulation of the rib to the xiphoid is through cartilage and a disruption of that is the most likely cause of the popping sound which can be confirmed with x-ray.

Yes, sometimes pain in the neck as well as in the back can be caused by an injury of this sort.

The most important point is the chronicity of the pain: you have mentioned that you are experiencing pain for about 3 months which is a considerable duration of time. However, radiating upper stomach pain should not arise as a result of this injury that is why it is necessary to visit a surgeon in person and get a complete clinical examination.

Hope this answers your query. Let me know if you need clarifications.

All the best!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in ribs, hard lump in xiphoid process after fall. How long will pain last? What is the problem? 9 hours later
Does a injury to the ribs/xiphoid typically heal by itself. The pain in the stomach is more right under rib or the lowest rib itself. Would a injury to the xiphoid cause a nerve to cause the pain, because that is what it feels like. The pain in the rib area where i fell is more aggrivated after i wake up in the morning after sleeping all night and goes away within a hour after i get up, it seems more stiff than pain. It feels more like a knot in my ribs.The morning is when pain and stiffness is at its worst after sleeping all night.
Answered by Dr. Souvik Adhikari 3 minutes later
Yes, an injury to that area heals by itself but the pain might be chronic and persist. An injury to the xiphoid does not cause long standing pain to the area you have described, this pain is usually due to something else ( may not be nerve) and that is why I recommend visiting a doctor in person because a proper clinical examination is essential to your case.

Let me know if you have further inquiry.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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