Rib pain can be a symptom of many different medical conditions and injuries, including broken ribs, pleurisy, costochondritis and osteoporosis, according to MedlinePlus. Pain in the ribs can range from a dull ache when the patient moves or coughs to a sharp stabbing pain.
Costochondritis is the term for inflammation in the cartilage around the breastbone, while osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. Pleurisy, by contrast, is an inflammation of the lungs that often brings sharp pains. Other possible causes of rib pain include blunt force trauma to the area and muscle overuse, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Rib pain is also associated with fibromylagia, which is a chronic disease characterized by pain concentrated along the back and spine, including the neck, shoulders, chest, ribs and thighs.
Rib pain is usually treated at home, including in the case of broken ribs where there is little to do but wrap the ribs until they heal. Trying not to move in ways that cause pain and resting are sometimes all that is needed, but patients who experience ongoing or worsening symptoms should get advice from a doctor. Rib pain accompanied by a full feeling in the chest, difficulty breathing or pain in the arms can indicate a heart attack and requires immediate medical attention.