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Sore ribs under left breast: Causes, treatment, and when to seek help

Causes, treatment, and when to seek help

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Pain under the left breast can have a range of causes from digestion to heart conditions. Home remedies may be enough to treat some conditions, but others require medical attention.

There are some organs in the upper left region of the body that could be the source of the pain. These include the stomach, heart, lungs, ribs, colon, pancreas, and spleen.

Doctors often group the most common causes of pain under the left breast into two main categories: digestive and heart-related.

This article looks at the different causes of pain under the left breast, their symptoms, and the treatment options available.

Share on PinterestThe pain of a heart attack tends to occur in the center of the chest.

As the heart is situated slightly to the left of the midline in the upper body, pain under the left breast can sometimes indicate a heart problem.

According to the American Heart Association, when pain does occur during a heart attack, it commonly happens in the center of the chest, lasts longer than a few minutes, and can return after fading.

Heart attack pain can cause a very strong, uncomfortable, crushing pressure or squeezing sensation, or it may feel like very bad heartburn. Some people may not experience any or only mild chest pain; this is more common in women, older people, and those with diabetes.

Other symptoms include:

  • profuse sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • heavy, weak shoulders or arms
  • severe pain traveling to the arm, jaw, neck, back, and elsewhere in the body
  • dizziness
  • a strong sense of anxiety or impending doom


If someone suspects a heart attack, they should call an ambulance immediately. While waiting, they should rest, and if they are not intolerant to aspirin, they should take an adult-dose tablet (300 milligrams) to help thin the blood.

Further treatment options will depend on when symptoms started and how soon the person having the attack can access the first stage of care.

If the cause of the attack is found to be a blocked coronary artery, the doctor may recommend a procedure called an angioplasty to open a blocked or severely narrowed coronary artery with a balloon and possibly place a stent.

1. Angina

When the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen in the coronary artery blood supply, the resulting pain under the left breast or in the center of the chest is known as angina.

Associated symptoms include an uncomfortable feeling in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain can also feel like indigestion, and a person may also experience sweating, light-headedness, nausea, or shortness of breath.


Angina is a possible symptom of severe underlying heart disease, so anyone experiencing symptoms of angina should seek medical attention immediately. A doctor may prescribe medication, such as beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors, statins, or aspirin.

2. Pericarditis

The heart is surrounded and protected by a thin, layered, fluid-filled membrane called the pericardium. It can become inflamed due to infection or a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks itself.

Symptoms of acute pericarditis include:

  • sharp, stabbing pain under the left breast or in the chest
  • pain in one or both shoulders
  • pain worsening when taking a deep breath or lying down on the back
  • feeling hot, sweaty, feverish, light-headed, and short of breath


Immediate treatment for pericarditis may include an OTC anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen and rest until feverish symptoms decrease. If a person experiences severe pain, a doctor may prescribe a steroid, such as prednisone.

If the condition is severe, the person may need to say in the hospital for monitoring.

Ibuprofen is available for purchase online.


While acute pericarditis typically cannot be prevented, getting treated quickly and following a prescribed treatment plan will reduce the chance of the acute pericarditis recurring or becoming a long-term condition.

3. Gastritis

When the stomach’s lining becomes inflamed, this is known as gastritis. Not everyone will experience symptoms, but a sharp, stabbing or burning pain under the left breast is a potential clue that gastritis may be present.

The pain can also be accompanied by heartburn, feeling sick, vomiting, and bloating.


For mild symptoms, changing the diet and lifestyle can ease pain under the left breast. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as antacids, can help reduce stomach acid.

Home remedy options include:

  • reducing alcohol intake
  • eating smaller portions more often, as opposed to one big meal
  • cutting out dairy, spicy, fried, or acidic foods, and caffeinated drinks
  • cutting down or giving up tobacco smoking
  • reducing high intake of OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • eating foods high in fiber and plant nutrients

If the pain is caused by or related to the presence of the bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, the doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics and medicine that reduces the production of stomach acid.

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis has symptoms that include:

  • sudden, severe pain under the left breast and in the upper center part of the abdomen
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rapid pulse
  • fever

Chronic pancreatitis, where the condition worsens over time, has symptoms including:

  • frequent or prolonged episodes of pain under the left breast that can spread to the back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • oily, pale-looking stools
  • diarrhea


Treatment for chronic pancreatitis ranges from pain management, using increasing strengths of medication, to surgery if pain under the left breast is still severe.

For acute pancreatitis, immediate treatment includes:

  • intravenous fluids to aid in hydration and ensure the body’s other organs have good blood flow
  • no eating for 24-48 hours, then following a high-calorie diet to support healing
  • giving intravenous pain medication or antinausea medication

5. Heartburn

Share on PinterestHeartburn may cause a pain under the left breast.

When stomach acid travels back up the food pipe, it causes a burning sensation in the mid-chest and throat, and sometimes pain under the left breast. Heartburn can be a symptom of indigestion and stomach acid issues.

Symptoms include:

  • a tight, burning sensation in the upper chest or throat that sometimes travels under the left breast and the jaw
  • a bitter taste in the mouth
  • pain under the left breast or in the chest while lying down or just after eating


Self-help treatment options for mild heartburn include not eating big meals, not lying down to sleep right after eating, and raising one’s pillow, so the head is higher than the waist when sleeping. This may help prevent stomach acid from traveling up the food pipe.

OTC medications such as antacids are a first medical option to try and are available for purchase online.

6. Pleurisy

The lungs are surrounded by a layered membrane called the pleura. If the pleura surrounding the left lung become inflamed due to infection or another cause, the resulting pain will develop under the left breast.

More severe causes of pleurisy include rheumatoid arthritis and lung cancer.

The most common symptom of pleurisy is a sharp chest pain when taking a deep breath, but it can also be accompanied by:

  • pain in the shoulder
  • a dry cough
  • shortness of breath

The pain can get worse when the person walks around, coughs, or sneezes.


Rest is highly recommended. Lying on the side of the pain can help relieve pain symptoms.

If a person experiences particularly severe chest pain, they should seek immediate treatment from a doctor, who may prescribe NSAIDs or other pain-relieving medication.

A doctor may also carry out further tests, such as blood tests, a chest X-ray, a chest CT scan. They may also take a small sample of pleural lung tissue for biopsy.

Pleurisy caused by a viral infection often gets better after a few days, but a bacterial infection will require antibiotic therapy.


The best way to prevent severe cases of pleurisy is early intervention.

7. Spleen

The spleen can cause pain under the left breast if it is enlarged or if it bursts following an injury.

Symptoms of an enlarged spleen include:

  • tenderness and pain under the left breast
  • feeling uncomfortable when eating even just a small meal
  • anemia and extreme tiredness
  • bleeding easily

A burst spleen typically will cause:

  • pain under the left breast or ribs, and tenderness when touched
  • bleeding
  • dizziness and fast heart rate


If a person suspects a burst spleen, they should go immediately to the emergency room. Bleeding can be life-threatening if left untreated.

A doctor will check for an enlarged spleen by feeling the abdomen and may recommend further testing through blood testing or imaging, such as an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan.

Underlying conditions, such as chronic liver disease and subsequent cirrhosis, can affect and interact with the spleen.

A doctor will prescribe medication when medical therapy is possible to treat splenic or liver disease. Surgery is only required if underlying causes cannot be diagnosed clearly, or if complications arise from the enlarged or damaged organ.


People should aim to keep the spleen safe when playing sport by wearing protective sporting equipment. Always wearing the seatbelt when in the car is also advised.

As cirrhosis can be caused by excessive or long-term high alcohol intake, cutting down is recommended.

8. During pregnancy

Share on PinterestAs the uterus grows it may cause pain under the left breast.

Soreness and pain experienced under the left breast during pregnancy are often caused by pressure from the top of the uterus as it grows, or if the baby is kicking or punching the expectant mother. The pain can be worse when leaning forward.

Muscles and other tissues will stretch as the baby grows, and this can also cause pain under the breasts.

The expectant mother’s body is changing during pregnancy, and the internal organs will be pushed and moved as the baby grows. The mother’s body chemistry may also change, and other causes of pain under the left breast during pregnancy can include:

  • heartburn with stomach acid reflux
  • the rib cage changing position to allow space for the baby in the abdomen

Some conditions can be treated at home with rest and OTC medication, but people should seek medical attention straight away if:

  • the chest is injured
  • the pain under the left breast is unexpected
  • symptoms of pain and tightness do not get better with rest
  • shortness of breath, feeling sick, or profuse sweating accompanies the pain

Pain under the left breast is often frightening to experience. As there are several organs in this area of the body, the earlier the cause of the pain can be diagnosed, the more likely that treatment and recovery will be successful.

A heart attack is not the most common reason for pain under the left breast, but it is always better to have the symptoms checked out, especially if other symptoms of a heart attack are present.

Many causes of pain under the left breast can be prevented through making changes to several everyday lifestyle choices. Following a healthful diet, getting regular exercise, lowering or cutting out tobacco smoking, reducing alcohol intake, keeping weight down, and reducing stress can all help.

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Pain Under Left Breast – 10 Causes & Treatment

It’s unsettling when any part of your body hurts, and feeling pain under left breast could be especially worrying. After all, lots of important organs and structures sit on that side of the body, like your heart, left lung, stomach, spleen, esophagus, ribs, and more.

But if you’re experiencing pain there, don’t jump to any conclusions because it isn’t always caused by issues with these organs.

“It really depends on the context,” says Samantha Nazareth, MD, a gastroenterologist and WH advisor. “How old is the person, what was the person doing, what is the type or quality of the pain, what is their medical history, what medications are they on, are they having other symptoms?” You have to take all these details into consideration.

Pain can also originate from issues with hormones, or you could straight-up just be sore from the gym, says Jayne Morgan, MD, a cardiologist and the clinical director of the Covid Task Force at the Piedmont Healthcare Corporation.

That said, sometimes the pain is related to an underlying medical issue. So, it might be a good idea to get checked out by your doctor and make sure they ask you the proper questions and give you a physical exam, Dr. Nazareth says.

Meet the experts: Samantha Nazareth, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist. Jayne Morgan, MD, is a cardiologist and the Covid Task Force Clinical Director at the Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.

That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on your body and what type of pain you’re feeling. They will clue you in to what may be causing your pain and how to treat it. Here are 10 possible reasons you might be experiencing pain under your left breast, according to medical experts.


Muscle Soreness

    If you notice discomfort under your left breast after an intense workout involving the chest muscles or other muscles in the area that you don’t normally use, there’s a good chance you’re just sore. Your muscles might be tender to the touch, and the pain might feel dull, tight, and achy, Dr. Nazareth says. It’s also possible that it hurts more when you take a deep breath or press on the chest.

    If the soreness is mild, it’ll go away within a few days to weeks, and it probably won’t spread to other parts of the body.

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    Dr. Nazareth recommends resting and applying hot or cold therapy. Put crushed ice in a bag or use a hot compress or heating pad and leave it on the affected area for up to 20 minutes for two days after the injury. Repeat every two hours if you need extra relief. You’ll want to apply heat 48 hours after the injury so it doesn’t increase inflammation, though.

    If that doesn’t do the trick, try an over-the-counter pain reliever or cream or gel that has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Dr. Nazareth’s rec is a capsaicin or salicylate creams or gels, which can be used three to four times a day.

    2. Acid Reflux

    Acid reflux happens when acid flows from the stomach back into the esophagus, or food pipe, Dr. Nazareth explains. It feels like a squeezing or burning sensation in your left and center chest that can spread to your neck, back, jaw, or arms.

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    Sometimes, you’ll also feel a sour or bitter taste in your mouth, nauseous, and even develop a cough. It typically occurs after meals and sometimes with stress, and it’s normally felt when you lie flat—it can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, Dr. Nazareth notes.

    An antacid or other over-the-counter acid can sometimes help you get rid of the issue. But adjusting your diet, like stop eating three hours before bedtime and avoid foods that can make it worse, like coffee or caffeinated foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, peppermint, and fatty foods can also help. (Quitting smoking also helps with reflux, Morgan continues.) If your symptoms continue, it’s a good idea to see your doc.

    3. Costochondritis

    Costochondritis occurs when you have inflammation in the cartilage that joins your ribs to the breastbone (this area is known as the costochondral joint). The pain, which usually affects the lower ribcage, might feel dull and gnawing, and it’ll feel more intense if you touch the area, take a deep breath, or cough. It may start on the left side of your chest and spread out to the rest of your chest, according to Cleveland Clinic.

    It’s not totally clear why some people develop this condition, though. “In some people it might be caused by trauma, heavy lifting, hard exercise, or an illness,” Dr. Nazareth explains.

    The pain typically goes away on its own, but you should avoid lifting or pushing heavy things for a few weeks. In the meantime, you can do some stretches to relieve the pain, like the doorway stretch and sphinx pose, and you can also use a heating pad on the area.

    4. Tietze Syndrome

    This is often confused with costochondritis because it’s also marked by inflammation in the costochondral joint. They share almost identical symptoms, but the the pain caused by Tietze syndrome is usually felt closer to the shoulder and affects the upper ribcage, per Cleveland Clinic. You’ll also notice chest swelling, which is absent in costochondritis.

    Depending on which ribs are affected, it might hurt more when you move or twist your upper body. You may also feel the pain more when you sit or lie down in certain positions. Coughing, sneezing, and vomiting may also be painful.

    No one really knows what causes it—some believe it’s due to small traumas to the chest from straining during exercises, a respiratory infection, or coughing fits, Dr. Morgan notes.

    You’ll want to get it checked out by a doc and let them know if you feel increased tenderness when they press on your chest in the affected area. Tietze syndrome can be treated with rest and OTC anti-inflammatory medications, usually resolving in one to two weeks, says Dr. Morgan.

    5. Pleurisy

    If you feel sharp, stabbing chest or shoulder pain when breathing in deeply, there’s a chance it could be a result of pleurisy, which is inflammation of the lining of your lungs (a.k.a. pleura). It occurs when inflammation in your lungs moves into the pleurae and causes them to swell up and rub against each other, per Cleveland Clinic.

    The pain can accompany a viral infection or result from a chest injury or pneumonia, in which case you would also have a fever and cough, says Dr. Nazareth.

    If you have pneumonia and it’s untreated, it’s possible that bacteria from an infection can enter the bloodstream and affect your other organs, so see a doctor ASAP. If the pleurisy is caused by a virus, it might take a couple of days for the pain to go away, but if it’s bacterial pneumonia, the pain will most likely stay until it’s treated, Dr. Nazareth says.

    6. Hiatal Hernia

    A rarer cause of pain under your left breast, a hiatal hernia is when your upper stomach bulges through the diaphragm, which separates your abdomen and chest, according to Mayo Clinic. The painful sensation might feel like a pulling or tearing from the diaphragm right below the left breast, Dr. Morgan explains.

    You might feel this pain when you have increased intra-abdominal pressure, like when lifting weights, groceries, or other heavy objects. It usually lasts as long as you’re doing the movement that is causing the pain.

    Small hiatal hernias won’t cause any other symptoms, but larger ones could come with heartburn, acid reflux, shortness of breath, feeling full soon after you eat, vomiting blood, and black stools.

    Talk to your doc if you think you have a hiatal hernia because it generally requires a surgical repair, Dr. Morgan says.

    7. Pericarditis

    Pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, also called the pericardium, Dr. Morgan explains. Chest pain occurs when the swollen and irritated layers of the pericardium rub against each other.

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    A viral infection like COVID, autoimmune diseases like lupus, and injury to the heart or chest could be to blame. The pain is sharp and worsens with breathing since you stretch your chest when inhaling and exhaling. The duration varies depending on which type of pericarditis you have.

    Other symptoms you may experience include a cough, fatigue, leg swelling, low-grade fever, a racing heart, shortness of breath while lying down, and swelling in your stomach.

    Rule of thumb: See a doctor if you have new-onset chest pain because it can be a sign of heart attack. Also, many of the symptoms of pericarditis overlap with those of other heart and lung conditions, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

    8. Pulmonary Embolism

    A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the lung. It’s most common in people who have had a recent surgery, have been on bed rest or sitting for a long time, like on a flight, or have been pregnant, Dr. Nazareth says. The type of pain varies, but it’s usually sharp and stabbing, and comes on suddenly, she says, adding that it gets worse with deep breaths.

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    The pain might be accompanied by dizziness, fast breathing, shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, coughing (maybe even coughing up blood), and anxiety. A pulmonary embolism can also cause a blood clot in the leg, making it swollen, red, and painful.

    This disease is potentially life-threatening, so you should book an appointment with your doctor right away if you suspect you have PE.

    9. Angina

    Angina refers to “pain in the chest or behind the left breast caused by blocked arteries and could be a warning sign of a heart attack,” Dr. Morgan explains. It generally affects those who have a blockage in their coronary arteries, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to the heart.

    The pain may feel burning, squeezing, and dull, and you may also experience some tightness and pressure. You’ll also have shortness of breath, nausea, and pain going up your left arm, jaw, or back. It’s generally brought on by physical exertion, and can stick around even after you stop your activity.

    Regardless of how long it lasts, seek medical attention immediately if you think your discomfort is angina-related given that it could signal a heart attack.


    Heart Attack

    If you feel what you would describe as new chest pain, involving pressure or discomfort in the area that worsens with activity, there’s a concern that it could be a heart attack, Dr. Nazareth says. You may also feel the same discomfort in your shoulder, arms, back, neck, and jaw.

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    Heart attack symptoms can also include trouble breathing and feeling nauseous, sweaty, or lightheaded. The pain may last for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back, per the CDC. These signs should prompt you to call 911.

    All in all, when you feel pain under your left breast, listen to your body and monitor what it’s saying to you. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and talk to your doc.

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    Addison Aloian

    Addison Aloian (she/her) is an editorial assistant at Women’s Health. When she’s not writing about all things pop culture, health, beauty, and fashion, she loves hitting leg day at the gym, shopping at Trader Joe’s, and watching whichever hockey game is on TV. Her work has also appeared in Allure, StyleCaster, L’Officiel USA, V Magazine, and Modern Luxury Media.  

    Pain in the region of the ribs. What can pain in the ribs indicate?

    Rib pain is treated by different specialists (traumatologist, neurologist, orthopedist, etc.), but successful results are achieved only with a holistic approach based on consideration of the disorders that have arisen in conjunction with other body systems.

    Causes of pain in the ribs

    The most common causes of pain syndrome are:

    • traumatic injuries of the chest, when the integrity of the tissues of 1 or several ribs is violated;
    • Tietze’s syndrome, which is characterized by inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs, manifested by sudden sharp pain;
    • intercostal neuralgia, in which pain occurs due to pinching of nerve endings by muscles and increases with a change in position, as well as with inhalation and exhalation;
    • osteochondrosis, manifested by chronic aching pains, and pain intensifies during sudden movements and after hypothermia;
    • intervertebral hernia of the thoracic spine, which can be suspected by acute stabbing pains that occur in the form of “lumbago” and radiate to the neck and arm;
    • Fibromyalgia – pain in this condition is caused by damage to the intercostal muscles, noted on both sides of the chest, aggravated by weather changes, the patient also notes stiffness of the chest after waking up.

    Inflammatory diseases of the pleura, neoplasms, and cardiovascular diseases also lead to pain in the ribs. Pain syndrome of a psychogenic nature is less commonly diagnosed.

    Features of diagnosis and treatment

    When complaining of rib pain, the posturologist assesses the following using functional diagnostic methods:

    • the tone of the muscular corset of the back and chest;
    • the symmetry of the chest, the volume of its movements;
    • condition of the ligamentous apparatus and fascia;
    • condition of the surrounding bone and muscle structures.

    The Center for Clinical Posturology does not treat the pain syndrome itself, but eliminates the entire chain of disorders that led to pain. The work of a specialist begins with the search for the underlying root cause of pathological changes, identifying the structure, the dysfunction of which led to the appearance of pain in the ribs and restriction of chest mobility.

    Complex therapy includes modern methods of physical rehabilitation, health-improving gymnastics, reflexology, massage techniques and manual therapy, physiotherapy. To restore the normal functioning of the chest, it is necessary to create and consolidate the conditions under which this will occur without the help of analgesics. Using gentle techniques, the doctor eliminates pathological tension and blocks that support dysfunction and “force” the muscles to work unevenly. The work is carried out both in the pain zone and in remote regions, which is associated with the need for correction at all levels of the postural system.

    We practice a comprehensive approach to effectively treat patients with dental, neurological, movement and other problems.

    Do not put off a visit to the doctor if you have complaints! –
    Treatment in our clinic is as comfortable and fast as possible.


    Manual therapy




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    Intercostal neuralgia – symptoms, treatment, causes, signs

    This disease is treated by Neurologist

    The information provided on this page should not be used for self-treatment or self-diagnosis. If you suspect a disease, you should seek help from a qualified specialist. Only your doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

    Article content:

    • Causes
    • Symptoms
    • Forms of the disease
    • Diagnostics
    • Treatment of intercostal neuralgia
    • Prophylaxis
    • Complications

    What is intercostal neuralgia?

    Intercostal neuralgia is an inflammation of the intercostal nerves. This pathological condition is manifested by acute, paroxysmal pain in the intercostal space. Pain extends from the spine to the sternum.

    How to identify the disease? The diagnosis is made on the basis of a survey and examination of the patient. To exclude diseases with a similar clinical picture, additional examinations may be prescribed. How to relieve pain and cure the disease? The main directions are symptomatic, anti-inflammatory, etiotropic treatment. During periods of remission, physiotherapy gives a good effect.


    What causes neuralgia? The main reasons for the development of the disease are:

    • pathology of the spine;
    • curvature of the spine;
    • increased or uneven load on the spine;
    • uncontrolled intake of certain drugs;
    • neoplasms of various etiologies in the region of the sternum, ribs, spine;
    • mechanical damage to the chest and spine resulting from trauma or surgery;
    • diseases of the nervous system;
    • infections;
    • sudden increase in intra-abdominal pressure;
    • constant high loads on the abdominal muscles.

    In addition, pathological changes in the intercostal nerves can occur against the background of diseases of the digestive system, respiration, thyroid gland, kidneys, immunodeficiency states. A similar clinical picture can be observed in adolescents during intensive growth of skeletal muscles.


    The main symptom of this pathology is pain in the chest. A person experiences severe, paroxysmal pain, which intensifies with a deep breath, coughing. The pain is localized between the ribs and is often accompanied by numbness, burning. Unpleasant sensations can appear in other parts of the body.

    The symptoms of intercostal neuralgia are similar to those of a heart attack, but there are a few differences to distinguish between heart problems and nerve inflammation. With neuralgia, the pain is constant, does not change the intensity, while the pressure and pulse indicators are within the normal range.

    How else does the disease manifest itself? In addition to pain, symptoms such as anemia or flushing of the skin, muscle contraction, hyperhidrosis can be observed. If the first unpleasant symptoms occur in women or men, you should immediately consult a doctor for an examination and a course of therapy.

    Forms of the disease

    By origin, there are primary (occurs independently) and secondary (is one of the symptoms of another pathology) neuralgia. In addition, reflex (is the result of a negative effect on peripheral receptors) and radicular (due to constant irritation of the roots of the spinal cord) form of the disease.

    In addition, the following types of pathology are distinguished:

    • musculoskeletal;
    • psychogenic;
    • vertebrogenic;
    • chronic;
    • sharp;
    • during pregnancy.

    Each of the above types has its own symptoms and treatment features.


    Many patients are interested in which doctor to contact for this pathology? The diagnosis is made by a neurologist. Neuralgia delivers extremely unpleasant sensations to the patient, but does not pose a threat to life.

    Therefore, this pathology is often a diagnosis of exclusion. Its clinical signs are similar to those of many severe heart diseases. Therefore, the primary task of the specialist is to exclude these pathologies with the help of a comprehensive examination of the patient.

    At the first appointment, the doctor interviews the patient, collects an anamnesis, assesses his current state of health. During the examination, the specialist determines the exact location of the pain, detects sensory disturbances, notices the characteristic forced posture that the patient takes to reduce pain.

    Based on the data obtained, a preliminary diagnosis is made, after which the patient is sent for additional examinations in order to conduct a differential diagnosis.

    The main methods of instrumental diagnostics are:

    • ECG — diagnose possible pathologies of the heart and blood vessels;
    • Ultrasound of the abdominal cavity and myocardium – exclude diseases of the heart and digestive organs with a similar clinical picture;
    • MRI, CT are the most informative methods of visualization of internal organs and tissues today, they can be used to obtain clear layered images, determine the localization of the affected nerves, detect signs of destruction of their sheath or neoplasms that compress the nerves and cause attacks of pain;
    • gastroscopy – with the help of this examination, pathologies of the stomach are detected, which cause pain similar in symptoms to neuralgia.

    Treatment of intercostal neuralgia

    How to treat intercostal neuralgia? If the pain is not associated with a herpes infection (in this case, you may need to take anticonvulsants to relieve severe pain), then the treatment does not cause any particular difficulties.

    The therapy of the disease is complex and is aimed primarily at stopping the causative factor and removing unpleasant symptoms.

    How to relieve pain in case of intercostal neuralgia?

    The following are the main stages of therapy in adults:

    • during the acute period, the patient needs rest, he is prescribed bed rest, taking B vitamins, NSAIDs, and drugs to restore the function of the affected nerves;
    • after the removal of acute attacks, physiotherapy, massage, manual therapy, acupuncture are indicated to consolidate the results and prevent relapses.

    If the disease is caused by the herpes virus, then antihistamine and antiviral drugs are indicated. Treatment should be started as soon as possible, possibly even before test results are available.

    The main goals of therapy in the acute period are to relieve pain and swelling of the nerves and muscle tissue. How is inflammation treated and how to get rid of pain? To relieve pain and inflammation, the patient is prescribed analgesics (intramuscularly, orally or rectally), glucocorticosteroids, muscle relaxants, sedatives, NSAIDs, B vitamins. If severe edema appears, diuretics are indicated.

    What helps with very severe, excruciating pain? In this case, blockades are carried out with solutions of anesthetics along the affected nerve. During periods of remission, sanatorium treatment (therapeutic baths, mud therapy) is recommended.

    If conservative treatment does not help and pain attacks are permanent, then it is necessary to conduct an additional examination of the patient in order to identify the true causes of the disease.


    To minimize the risk of developing this pathology, the following recommendations should be observed:

    • do not get cold, avoid drafts;
    • give up a sedentary lifestyle;
    • regularly sanitize foci of chronic infection in the body;
    • exercise, do exercises – this will help to avoid congestion;
    • strengthen the body’s immune defenses;
    • avoid stress and nervous tension as much as possible;
    • monitor posture;
    • Healthy food;
    • during sedentary work, regularly take breaks to warm up;
    • take a multivitamin periodically;
    • observe safety rules when lifting weights;
    • regularly undergo preventive examinations – this will help to identify possible health problems at an early stage, which will facilitate subsequent treatment and improve the prognosis.


    How dangerous is the disease and what are the consequences? If untreated, the patient may experience the following complications:

    • chronic pain in the chest, back, ribs, which prevent the patient from fully moving and greatly reduce the quality of life;
    • respiratory failure, pneumonia;
    • feeling of stiffness and weakness in the chest, decreased range of motion of the shoulders.

    In severe long-term neuralgia can cause an attack of angina pectoris or provoke a hypertensive crisis. In addition, constant pain adversely affects the mental state of the patient and greatly complicates his life. He cannot sleep normally, move, play sports, perform elementary work.

    • Pain in the thoracic spine. Isaikin A.I., Kavelina A.V. Neurology, neuropsychiatry, psychosomatics, 2013. pp.74-78
    • Symptoms of manifestation of vegetovascular dystonia in adolescence. Elzhurkaeva L.R.