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Video:Causes for Rib Cage Pain

with Dr. Bob Lahita

Pain in the rib cage can be caused from underlying factors other than blunt force. Osteoporosis may cause rib cage pain in older women. Learn more about the causes for rib cage pain in this video.See Transcript

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Transcript:Causes for Rib Cage Pain

I’m Dr. Bob Lahita, Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. I’m talking to you now about rib fracture.

Rib Fracture are Difficult to Treat

Pain in the rib is probably a better topic to start with. Many things can cause pain in the rib. They can be rib inflammation after a fall. It can actually be a break in the rib. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done for a fracture of a rib, which commonly occurs in skiing accidents, motor vehicle accidents, or simply a person with osteoporosis (a bleaching of the bone) who is hugged tightly by a loved one.

Rib Pain Related to Osteoporosis

This can result in a rib fracture and is very common to older women in the postmenopausal years. That means after the change of life, when estrogen levels which support the growth and integrity of bone are less.

So, rib pain can be from many things including tumor metastases. It can be from just a plain old sprain, or it can actually be from a fracture. And if you have rib pain, you should go to your doctor because the doctor can do an x-ray and examine your ribs and determine whether, in fact, there is a fracture.

Rib Fractures Cause Difficulty Breathing

Now, what are the dangers of a fracture. Well, the dangers of a fracture are that you can do something we call splinting. That is, when you breathe, because of the pain, you breathe in - there’s a sharp pain in your rib - and you tend not to breathe fully. Older people can get pneumonia.

Or, in the worst case scenario, the broken rib can actually separate and puncture your lung, causing a loss of volume of the effected lung, which can result in a chronic cough, shortness of breath, even the coughing up of teaspoons of blood because of a punctured lung and maybe even a punctured blood vessel.

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