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Dr. D. Evans
Dr. D. Evans, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4464
Experience:  MS in ENT and Head and Neck Surgery , Attachment to Neurosurgery.
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I have been experiencing tightness in my lower rib cage.

Resolved Question:

I have been experiencing tightness in my lower rib cage. The problem develops when I sleep, no matter what position. I typically sleep on my back with my knees supported by a pillow. The pain I experience with this is very intense and I often need to ask for help to get up or move my upper body at all. Once I''m up and moving around the pain/tightness slowly dissipates. This has slowly come on over the past three weeks. I don''t know what to do or what could be causing this.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. D. Evans replied 8 years ago.

Hi,

This appears to be a pain of Costochondritis. Costochondritis typically affects the joints of the ribs at the breast bone, it can also affect the ribs and intercostal muscles at the back. Alternatively, it may also be a simple sprain of the muscles.

You can try the following options:

Physical exercise: Physical exercise is undoubtedly the most important. You will have to do some regular stretching exercises for the back; this is usually a very successful method. They should be done under medical supervision, it is best if you consult a physiotherapist for this.

Heat compresses: Heat compresses either superficially with a warm heat pack, or deep heat with ultrasound therapy, should be tried.

Rib support: A rib belt worn regularly by itself often helps to relieve the pain. It will give support to the entire rib cage and help in resolution.


You will have to talk with your doctor regarding some of these options. You should consult a GP or Family Physician and discuss about costochondritis with him. If necessary, he will refer you to a specialist, an Orthopaedician.

You can look up here:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/costochondritis/DS00626
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/costochondritis/article_em.htm



I hope this answer was helpful. If you need more information, feel free to ask. For accepting this answer, please click on the green 'accept' button below. Feedback/Bonus will be warmly appreciated.

Dr. D. Evans and 2 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Dr. D. Evans's Post: Dr. Evans, thank you for your answer. I certainly plan to "accept" it. I read through the links you provided as well. I only wanted to clarify my symptoms: I have absolutely no pain in my chest area, no trouble breathing and no pain when breathing - the pain and tightness is strictly limited to my back/rib cage - from the middle of my back to the bottom on my rib cage. I've certainly not felt like I've been having a heart attack! I'm not certain these symptoms would fit for the costochondritis - thougth I'm certainly willing to accept it as a possibility! I do exercise regularly (jogging, rollerblading, weightlifting)but perhaps need to add more stretches that target my back. I'm 48 years old and have been out in the garden a lot since the weather's finally improved. Perhaps I've been bending and twisting in some unfamiliar ways!

Thanks again for your response.