What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Pain in the Ribs?

Rib pain can be dull, achy or sharp and has many causes, the most common of which is a pulled muscle or bruised ribs, advises Healthline. Fractured ribs, chest injuries, diseases that impact the bones, muscle spasms, and inflammation of the lung lining or rib cartilage are other possible causes.

A person with broken ribs usually experiences increased pain when moving or twisting his body, explains MedlinePlus. If pleurisy, inflammation of the lining of the lung, is present, breathing deeply causes increased pain. Bone cancer may be the cause if chronic pain is present.

One of the most common causes of rib pain in children and teenagers, and one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain in general, is inflammation of the cartilage that attaches the upper ribs to the breastbone, a condition called costochondritis, according to eMedicineHealth. Pain occurs when applying pressure to the cartilage in the front part of the rib cage. While there is no definitive cause of costochondritis, repeated minor chest trauma; viral, fungal or bacterial infections; injury; fibromyalgia; and certain forms of arthritis may cause the condition.

If pain or pressure occurs in the chest along with rib cage pain, the patient requires immediate medical attention, warns Healthline. These are possible heart attack symptoms.