Pain Under Left Rib Cage: What Are Its Causes And Symptoms?

The ribs are long, lean bones which arc around the chest to make the rib cage. The first 10 ribs on both sides fasten to the thoracic spine and breastbone. The lowest two ribs fasten by ligaments to the spine, but not to the breastbone, and are referred to as floating ribs.

The rib cage supports the entire skeleton and also protects the heart, lungs, and other major structures of the respiratory and cardiovascular system. It also protects the organs of the digestive, lymphatic and nervous systems.

Rib pain may be dull, stabbing, tender, throbbing or gnawing. It could signify a wide variety of disorders and ailments which range from mild to serious. By and large, the cause is linked to trauma or inflammation of the muscles, ligaments or cartilage in the rib cage

A comprehensive medical assessment and a series of tests will ascertain whether the pain is due to a condition of the rib cage or an ailment occurring within the chest.

What are the Causes of Pain under Left Rib Cage?

A host of reasons ranging from mild to serious such as infection, myocardial infarction, inflammation, injury, malignancy, etc.

can trigger rib cage pain. The following are the important causative factors:

Musculoskeletal causes

  • Trauma to the chest or ribs, such as, a broken rib or a bruise on the chest.
  • Costo-chondritis (i.e. the swelling and inflammation of the cartilage between the sternum and the ribs).
  • Fibromyalgia is another significant cause; it is the chronic disorder which causes pain and stiffness.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Neuritis or inflammation of a nerve or group of nerves can result in rib cage pain as well.
  • Arthritis is also known to cause rib pain.
  • Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones may also manifest as rib pain.
  • A strained muscle in the shoulders or chest wall, shoulders, arm or back.
  • Infection of the ribs.
  • Kyphosis or scoliosis of the spine.

Lung-related causes

  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Flail chest
  • Pleural effusion (i.e. when fluid builds up in the lining surrounding the lungs).
  • Pleurisy (i.e. the inflammation of the lining of the lung).
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung) or hemothorax (blood around the lung).
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pulmonary embolism

Cardiovascular causes

  • Aortic dissection
  • Congestive cardiac failure
  • Congenital cardiac diseases, abnormalities, birth defects, such as coarctation of the aorta and aortic valve stenosis.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocardial infarction

Malignant causes

  • Lung cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Multiple myeloma

Digestive system–related causes

  • Spasm of the esophagus.
  • Gall stones or inflammation of the gall.
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
  • Gastritis
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pancreatitis

Symptoms Of Pain Under Left Rib Cage

The pain may be mild and dull, it could be stabbing, burning or excruciating. Rib pain can occur in conjunct with other symptoms, depending upon the primary disease.

Symptoms which accompany rib pain include:

  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Body ache and fatigue.
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Pain in the arm, shoulder or back.
  • Reduced movement of the shoulders or back.

You need to go through a battery of tests and investigations to ascertain the precise cause and etiological factor for the rib pain. Once the exact cause has been established, your doctor will promptly start the appropriate treatment routine.

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