Rib/ Chest Pain

What is it?

Rib and chest pain may be dull, sharp, achy felt at or below the chest and above the navel on either side of the body. It can occur after an injury, without any specific cause or develop over time.

Pulled muscles, rib fractures or inflammatory conditions can cause rib cage and chest pain.  Furthermore it can be a sign of another underlying medical condition.

The most common causes of rib and chest pain are pulled muscles or bruised ribs.  However other sources such as rib fractures, muscle spasms, inflamed rib cartilage, inflamed lung lining or diseases that affect bone need to be ruled out by trained medical professionals.  This is something we at The Physiotherapy Academy can help you with.

What we do?

We will conduct a thorough examination of the painful area to identify the source of the pain.  The pain may be apparent on certain movements or you may experience it upon breathing.  However if you feel pressure or have pain in your chest along with rib cage discomfort and shoulder pain, seek emergency medical help, these can be symptoms of an impending heart attack.

Intercostal strains are one of the most common rib/chest conditions we assess, commonly seen in fast bowling cricketers, rowers and after road traffic accidents.  They involve the tear of a muscle called your intercostals, which are located between your ribs and responsible for elevating your ribs for inspiration.  Furthermore numerous muscles from your back, shoulder girdle and abdomen attach to your ribs and these areas need to be fully assessed to rule out a more extensive injury.  A thorough subjective and objective examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose such injuries. Further investigations, such as X-ray, MRI, CT Scan or ultrasound, are sometimes required to confirm diagnosis, rule out other conditions, determine the severity of injury and monitor healing.

What the benefits are?

Physiotherapy treatment is vital for accurate assessment, diagnosis and to speed up the healing process.  It also aids preventing re-injury and obtaining optimal outcome.

How we can help?

With appropriate physiotherapy assessment, treatment and management, most patients with rib and chest pain make a full recovery (i.e. return to normal activities and sport within 6 weeks). In more severe cases of this type of pain recovery may take longer.

Treatments may include specific soft tissue Massage joint mobilisations/manipulations, stretches and exercises, ice or heat treatment, acupuncture/dry needling, taping, modifications to activities or sporting hobbies, technique correction, posture re-education, hydrotherapy and a phased return to activity plan. 

Medication advice may be relevant in this injury and we will be able to direct you to the best source of information or aid you in contacting your General Practitioner.

What should you do?

To reduce the risk of rib and chest pain you can ensure that you:

  • Warm up appropriately
  • Don’t over train
  • Ensure adequate recovery periods between training
  • Maintain adequate sporting technique (e.g. bowling or throwing)
  • Maintain good core control
  • Ensure adequate flexibility for your activities
  • Maintain good joint movements particularly the upper back
  • Awareness of good posture
  • Maintain fitness and conditioning
  • Always complete full rehabilitation from a previous injury.

To arrange an appointment or speak to a physiotherapist, call or email on:

Southend on Sea: 01702 521 042 or info@physioacademy.co.uk
Chelmsford: 01245 254 069 or chelmsford@physioacademy.co.uk

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  • Southend Clinic
  • Chelmsford Clinic
To book an appointment at our Southend clinic or if you have any questions in regards to any of the services we offer please don't hesitate to get in touch.


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