Most commonly, bruised ribs or pulled muscles cause rib cage pain, but certain medical conditions, such as costochondritis or osteoporosis, also may manifest in rib pain, especially in women, according to Healthline. Other factors that may result in rib pain are inflamed lung lining, muscle spasms or rib fractures.
Treatment for rib pain depends on the severity and cause. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, is effective for managing the pain of bruised ribs or pulled muscles, and cold packs reduce inflammation, states Healthline. While compression wraps can temporarily protect and support the area in the case of rib fracture, the tightness makes breathing difficult, and long-term use increases the risk of pneumonia.
Costochondritis, or Tietze's syndrome, is a condition that affects mostly women and those over 40, explains Healthline. It causes inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage where the upper ribs attach to the sternum. Mild-to-moderate symptoms of Tietze's syndrome usually respond to anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. A doctor may also recommend bed rest, physical therapy and hot/cold therapy.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones lose density and weaken overtime. Known as a "silent disease," osteoporosis often presents no symptoms until there is a break or fracture, notes Healthline. Treatments for osteoporosis include estrogen replacement therapy and medicines that encourage bone maintenance.