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Pain Below Rib Cage

Pain Below Rib Cage
More often than not, rib cage pain is caused by injuries that may cause bruised or cracked ribs. Pain from bruised or broken ribs could also radiate downwards. As a result, one may experience pain below the rib cage. Besides injuries, medical conditions could also cause pain under the thoracic cage. Let's find out about these conditions.
Smita Pandit
The rib cage is a bony structure that is made up of twelve pairs of ribs, a T-shaped bone called sternum, costal cartilages and twelve thoracic vertebrae. This bony structure protects the internal organs that are located in the thoracic cavity. Pain below the rib cage may arise from a broken or a bruised rib. An underlying medical condition could even be the reason behind pain. For instance, a burning pain under the thoracic cage after eating may be attributed to a condition called heartburn. Pain or discomfort is most likely to arise if any of the organs located under the rib cage is affected by a medical condition. Here are some of the common causes of pain under the rib cage.
Causes
While pain arising from a mild insignificant problem may resolve soon, certain conditions need medical treatment. One must therefore immediately seek medical assistance so that doctors can determine the nature of the health problem and suggest treatment options if needed. Here is some information about the conditions that may cause pain below the rib cage along with treatment options for the same.
Injury
A forceful blow to the chest or blunt chest trauma that occurs during a motor vehicle accident or while playing high-speed contact sports could be responsible for causing rib cage pain. If the intensity of pain increases when you try to bend your body, then it would be best to get a chest X-ray done. This will help the doctor determine if any of the ribs got bruised, cracked or fractured.
Those people who suffer from osteoporosis, arthritis or bone density issues must take all possible precautions as a fall can cause the ribs to fracture. While application of ice packs and use of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids may help in alleviating pain, surgery may be required in event of a severe multiple rib fracture.
Costochondritis
A gnawing pain that one may experience while breathing or coughing might be caused due to inflammation of the cartilage that connects ribs to the breastbone. Under such circumstances, pain is felt at the costosternal joint. The pain can be so severe that you might feel that you are having a heart attack. More often than not, such an inflammation is caused by an injury. An infection in the costosternal joint could also cause costochondritis.
The treatment usually involves use of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids. One must take ample rest and refrain from participating in any physical activity that may aggravate the condition.
Splenic Flexure Syndrome
Splenic flexure syndrome is a medical condition that is characterized by bloating, colon spasms or pain in the left upper abdomen or the lower left chest. These symptoms appear when gas gets trapped in the splenic flexure of the colon. Splenic flexure is the bend at the junction of transverse and descending section of the large intestine in the upper left section of the abdomen. Gas is produced when bacteria act on undigested food in the large intestine.
Those who have poor dietary habits and often suffer from digestive problems are more likely to suffer from this condition. One must therefore avoid foods that cause gas. Certain drugs that are prescribed for treating irritable bowel syndrome might also be prescribed for providing relief from intestinal gas.
Other Medical Conditions
Medical conditions that could cause pain under the thoracic cage include:
  • Appendicitis: An inflamed appendix can cause sharp pain in the lower side of the abdomen. Pain might radiate towards the area below the right rib cage. The treatment of appendicitis involves surgical removal of appendix.

  • Diverticulitis: Diverticulitis refers to the inflammation of diverticula, which are small bulging sacs that form in the wall of the large intestine. Those suffering from diverticulitis are likely to experience pain in the lower left side of the abdomen along with stomach cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting. The inflamed pouches may cause pain below the rib cage on the left side. While doctors will prescribe painkillers for alleviating the pain, it is essential to make dietary modifications.

  • Gallstones: Formation of small stone-like deposits in the gallbladder can also cause pain under the right rib cage. Gallbladder removal or surgical removal of gallstones may be recommended for the treatment. Pain could also arise from an inflamed liver or pancreas. Drug therapy and dietary modifications may be required to tackle such problems.

  • Kidney stones: Kidney stones may also cause pain under the rib cage. Flank pain is another characteristic sign of kidney stones. Surgery or other minimally-invasive procedures such as shock wave lithotripsy, nephrolithotripsy or ureteroscopy may be recommended for treating kidney stones.

If you ever experience a sharp pain under the rib cage, don't ignore it. A delay in treatment can lead to complications, so seek medical help for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.