What does pain between the ribs

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

A person of any age can feel pain between the ribs in the middle in front, even those who consider themselves healthy. Severe or often recurring discomfort may indicate the presence of an illness that has not yet manifested itself. In this material, we will understand the causes of such discomfort, we will list the diseases that can be the cause. In most cases, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible before the condition worsens. Also here you will find a list of diagnostic measures necessary to identify the problem, make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

To understand the origin of the pain between the ribs in the middle, you need to learn about the structural features.

Rib structure

It is a flat, curved bone that runs from the spine to the sternum. The ribs are paired, the upper seven pairs are connected to the sternum, they are called real. The next five pairs are called false, of which the last two are free, they are attached only to the spinal column. Some people have the thirteenth pair, some are missing one or two of the last pairs. Sometimes the last ribs are surgically removed for medical or aesthetic reasons when they want to make the waist narrower.

The second and third ribs can hurt due to costal chondritis, with this disease, one or more cartilages become inflamed. The pain is sharp and very pronounced, however, angina pectoris can deliver the same discomfort. Painful sensations can be given under the shoulder blade, in the neck, even in the arms. With inflammation, the pain intensifies when pressed, with angina pectoris this does not happen. The main diagnostic measure is a chest x-ray.

Causes of pain

The source can be not only bone, but also cartilage, fascia, muscle tissue, nerves located between the ribs. Also, pain from internal organs can be given to this area, it can be different – stabbing, pulling, aching, sharp or dull. It can come voluntarily or at the moment of performing some movement. The most common causes are the following diseases.


Inflammation of the gallbladder manifests itself in girdle pain, a feeling of bitterness in the mouth. Also, the problem may be in the dyskinesia of the bile ducts. The provoking factor is the abuse of fatty and fried foods, nervous stress. With cholecystitis, bile stagnates and forms stones, other symptoms include: loss of appetite, dark plaque on the tongue, sclera become yellowish. Bile secretion dysfunctions can also be triggered by a sedentary lifestyle.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

Pinched nerves

If there is colitis between the ribs, the nerve may be pinched. This can occur with protrusions and intervertebral hernias, as well as with osteochondrosis, polyneuropathy, multiple sclerosis. Physical stress, injury, infection, hypothermia can be a provoking factor. The sensation is described as burning, similar to electric shocks. They intensify with sudden movements and deep breaths, often make you bend, since in this position relief comes.

Stomach ulcer

Those who have experienced an exacerbation of an ulcer compare it to blows with a dagger. Symptoms are worse at night, causing insomnia, and sometime after eating. Most often, exacerbations occur in the off-season. A gastric ulcer can cause bleeding, at this stage the disease becomes life-threatening. Other signs include heartburn, weakness, headaches, irritability for no reason.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?


In the acute phase, it causes severe pain, it radiates to the back and hypochondrium. You can learn about other diseases that cause discomfort in the hypochondrium from the article “Why does it hurt under the ribs?”

As for pancreatitis, it is accompanied by nausea, sometimes very severe, up to vomiting. With a change in body position and a deep breath, the state of health worsens.

Subphrenic abscess

The abscess itself is located below the diaphragm, it worsens the general condition. When moving and coughing, it hurts more than in a calm state. The body is subject to severe intoxication, the body temperature rises. There is a feeling of heaviness, it is caused by the expansion of the intercostal spaces. Also disturbed by hiccups and shortness of breath, dry cough. To get rid of pain, you need to take a half-sitting position.


Gastritis is characterized by dull pain that lasts for a long time. It can develop both with normal and with increased acidity of gastric juice. In the latter case, severe heartburn is added to the symptoms.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

Tietze syndrome

With this serious pathology, chest pain between the ribs is caused by an inflammatory process in the costal cartilage associated with the sternum itself. The manifestations are similar to angina pectoris, but the difference is in the deterioration of the condition with mechanical stress.


It is provoked by the chickenpox virus, there is a direct effect on all body functions. The disease can be recognized by its characteristic symptoms: fever, rashes and itching on the skin, nausea, weakness. Painful sensations are rare, but quite pronounced. The rash is similar to vesicles, they are localized along the intercostal nerves.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

Angina pectoris

This is the name of a syndrome related to heart diseases of the ischemic type. It can give to the jaw, these are strong squeezing sensations, can lead to a panic attack. There is also a strong arrhythmia when the body position changes. As an ambulance, the patient should be given nitroglycerin. If there is even the slightest suspicion of heart dysfunction, it is necessary to take the person to a medical facility as soon as possible. An electrocardiogram is used for diagnosis.


It is a malignant tumor that forms on the bones. In the absence of therapy, the tumor will grow and have an ever stronger effect on the entire body. In the early stages, analgesics help to alleviate the condition, in the later stages they no longer cope. The damage to the nerve endings that feed the ribs increases, and this affects the patient’s quality of life.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?


Inflammation of the pleura is accompanied by strong painful sensations, they intensify with sudden movements, deep breaths and coughing. The body temperature rises, sweating increases, the person begins to breathe very often, but not deeply, he has shortness of breath.

Increased tone of the pectoral muscles

Hypertonia can happen in every person. It is caused by such simple reasons as overexertion or heavy lifting. Normally, only a state of rest is required, and the muscles repair themselves. If a couple of days after the overload the condition has not returned to normal, you should consult a doctor.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?


The reasons are the same as for hypertonia, but the manifestations are different. With fibromyalgia, it is difficult to do torso turns and it is simply impossible to raise your arms up. Seek medical attention immediately.


In this case, we are talking about osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. Refers to degenerative processes, in the absence of treatment, gradually destroys structures. It usually hurts not only between the ribs, but also in the area of ​​the shoulder blades. Legs may go numb, breathing is difficult. Patients with osteochondrosis describe their sensations as a stake in the chest.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

How to provide first aid?

Not all possible reasons were listed above, but only the most probable ones. That is why you should consult a doctor, only a specialist can diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment. But it is not always possible to go to the hospital immediately, and besides, it is required to alleviate the condition in order to calmly survive the expectation of medical intervention. A number of measures are recommended.

The first thing to do is to accept a position in which you feel better. You need to stay in this position, when you try to sharp actions between the ribs it will hurt more.

Sometimes relief comes after a change of position, but this must be done very slowly and smoothly.

It is worth looking in the medicine cabinet for pain relievers, for example, Ketanov or Analgin. If it gives to the left, and there is a suspicion that this is a heart, it is worth taking nitroglycerin. If there is discomfort in the stomach area, it is necessary to refuse meals and drink as much water as possible at room temperature.

When to go to the hospital?

It is possible that the cause of discomfort is simple fatigue, and very soon the cause for concern will disappear by itself. But if the pain between the ribs in the middle when pressed increases, comes in sharp attacks, does not go away for a long period of time, forces a person to limit his mobility, it is necessary to seek help as soon as possible. The same is required if there was a possibility of chest injury.

If untreated, all diseases progress, they lead to complications, often irreversible. For example, if you ignore angina pectoris, it will develop into a heart attack, if pleurisy is not treated, it will develop into severe pneumonia or an abscess of lung tissue. Oncological diseases provoke internal bleeding and lead to death. Any pathological process requires due attention.

What does pain between the ribs in the middle of the front mean and how to fix it?

What diagnostic measures are required depends on the symptomatology and the provoking factor. If the patient does not have chronic diseases that could be the cause, the therapist begins the examination. Further, if necessary, he redirects the patient to specialists of a narrower profile. In any case, the first measures will be to take anamnesis, the doctor will ask the patient about the complaints and examine him.

Depending on the causes of pain between the ribs in the middle in front, medication, physiotherapy, massage courses or manual therapy can be prescribed. In some cases, after the removal of the acute process, they resort to exercise therapy complexes. Magnetotherapy can be connected to relieve puffiness.

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