Ribs Hurting When Waking Up? 9 Possible Reasons & 11 Tips To Help!

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Last Updated on January 14, 2023 by theworldofsleepstaff

Have you ever woken up with sore ribs? It can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to help reduce or even prevent rib pain when waking up.

Various conditions, activities, stress, and even the way you sleep can cause rib pain. But the key to finding relief is identifying the cause of your rib pain and taking appropriate steps to manage it.

In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of rib pain and provide tips for helping to alleviate discomfort.

Disclaimer: This content has been written for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice or professional recommendations. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.

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Can Rib Pain Be Serious?

Yes, in some cases, rib pain can be severe. It is essential to determine the exact cause of your rib pain and seek medical advice if you are worried about a possible underlying condition or injury. Specific warning signs that point to a more serious problem include:

– Pain that gets worse over time rather than improving

– Pain that does not respond to home remedies or over-the-counter medications

– Pain accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, chills, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, and chest tightness.

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What Does It Mean When Both Sides Of Your Ribs Hurt?

When both sides of your ribs hurt upon waking up, it is likely caused by an underlying medical condition.

Possible causes include pleurisy or pleuritis (inflammation of the lining around the lungs), costochondritis (inflammation of the rib cage cartilage), pneumonia, gastritis (stomach inflammation), and musculoskeletal pain such as from a pulled muscle.

Other symptoms that may accompany the rib pain, such as a fever or difficulty breathing, suggest an infection or other medical condition.

Top 9 Common Causes of Rib Pain When Waking Up

1. Poor Posture

Sleeping for long hours in the same position can cause your ribs to become strained, leading to pain when you wake up.

In addition, being in the same position for too long can create tension in the muscles on either side of your rib cage – making it difficult to stretch and causing discomfort.

Rib pain and discomfort can also occur when you sleep in your stomach or on an incline, as these positions often force your ribs to be flexed in uncomfortable ways.

Woman sleeping in her bed at night, she is lying on her stomach

2. Muscle Injuries

Pulled muscles and tears can cause aching or sharp pains when you wake up, mainly if the injury occurs close to the rib cage area. If your pain persists for more than a few days, it’s advisable to seek medical attention.

In dealing with muscle injuries, giving your body time to heal and rest is essential. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, and try gentle stretching exercises for the affected area.

3. Costochondritis

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone. This condition can be caused by physical strain or injury or arise spontaneously due to certain viruses.

Costochondritis is characterized by sharp, stabbing pains in the chest, which can worsen when coughing or moving around. It is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications and rest.

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4. Respiratory Infections

Viral infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia can cause rib pain due to the inflammation of your lungs and chest area. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as a persistent cough, fever, chills, or body aches, it’s essential to seek medical attention.

Usually, respiratory infections require antibiotics and rest to help alleviate the symptoms.

5. Osteoporosis

Weak or brittle bones can become easily fractured, especially in older adults with osteoporosis. This can cause pain when you wake up due to pressure on the ribs or chest area.

If you believe you might have osteoporosis, you have treatment options depending on the results; several treatments are available to help strengthen and protect bones from fractures.

6. Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax is when air accumulates between your lung and chest wall, causing your lung to collapse. Symptoms include sharp pains in the ribs and chest area that may worsen when you take a deep breath.

Pneumothorax is a potentially serious condition and requires medical attention. Treatment plans will vary depending on the severity of the pneumothorax.

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7. Intercostal Bursitis

Intercostal bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) between your ribs. This condition can be caused by trauma, infections or overuse of specific muscles and ligaments in the chest wall.

Symptoms can include tenderness, pain when moving or pressing on the area, and muffled sounds while breathing. Treatment involves rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles in your chest wall.

8. Pleurisy

Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membrane (pleura) that lines your lung cavity, which can cause pain when you move or breathe. It can be caused by an infection or other underlying medical condition, such as cancer.

Treating pleurisy involves managing the underlying cause and controlling any inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications.

9. Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in your bones due to repeated stress or trauma in a specific area.

Ribs are especially vulnerable to stress fractures and can cause aching pain when you move or wake up in the morning.

Treatment usually includes rest, immobilization of the affected area and medications to help reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if the fracture is severe.

Overall, paying attention to any pain you experience when waking up in the morning is essential and contact your doctor if it persists for more than a few days. Depending on the cause, several treatments can help alleviate your symptoms and keep you healthy.

If you’re concerned that the pain may be severe, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Your doctor can determine the cause and provide a treatment plan for you.

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Top 11 Tips to Relieve Rib Pain

1. Apply cold or hot compresses to the affected area.

Suffering from sharp rib pain? Applying a cold or hot compress to the area is an effective way to provide relief from discomfort.

Applying such compresses helps to reduce swelling, numb the pain and relax stiff muscles. However, ensure not to apply compresses for too long, as it can cause skin irritation or tissue damage.

2. Rest

If you’re experiencing rib pain, it’s essential to take some time to rest. Avoid strenuous activities such as running or heavy lifting until your symptoms improve. This will help reduce inflammation and promote healing in the affected area.

It is said that the best way to heal is to rest, so be sure to get adequate rest until your symptoms improve.

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3. Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever

If you’re experiencing mild rib pain, taking an OTC medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce discomfort.

It would help if you remembered that these medications should only be taken as directed and never more than the recommended dosage.

4. Massage the affected area

Massaging the affected area can help reduce pain and tension in your ribs. Gently massage the sore areas in circular motions with your fingertips or palms for a few minutes each day.

This technique can also help to increase blood flow and reduce muscle tension in the area, thus helping you to feel more comfortable.

5. Practice yoga or other gentle stretching exercises

Gentle stretching exercises such as yoga can help relieve rib pain by increasing flexibility and strengthening your core muscles. However, when performing these stretches, keep your muscles manageable.

Yoga can also help you relax and reduce stress, an essential factor in managing rib pain.

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6. Practice good posture

Maintaining good posture can help reduce the pressure on your ribcage, thus helping relieve pain and discomfort.

Be sure to sit and stand up straight, with your shoulders pulled back and chin slightly lifted. This will help reduce tension in the area and keep your body in alignment.

7. Wear supportive clothing

Wearing a supportive bra or tight-fitting shirt can help support your ribcage and reduce discomfort. If the affected area is exposed, wrapping it with an elastic bandage can also be helpful.

These simple methods can help reduce strain and tension in the area, thus relieving pain.

8. Avoid activities that cause pain

If certain activities, such as running or lifting weights, are causing discomfort in your ribs, avoid them until your symptoms improve. This will help to reduce stress and strain on the area, which can help alleviate pain as well.

If you must strenuous activities, do proper warm-up exercises beforehand to reduce the risk of injury or further pain.

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9. Avoid deep breathing or coughing

If an injury causes your rib pain, avoiding activities that require deep breathing or coughing may be best. This will help to reduce strain and stress on the area, thus providing relief from discomfort.

If coughing is unavoidable due to an illness, take an OTC medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen beforehand. This can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by coughing.

10. Use a support band or brace

Using a support band or brace can help to provide extra stability for your ribcage and reduce pain in the area. It may also be beneficial to wear a support band or brace when performing activities such as running or lifting weights.

Be sure to follow the product instructions for the proper use and sizing of the support device. It is also important not to wear it too tightly, as this can lead to additional discomfort.

11. Take warm baths

A warm bath can help reduce swelling and tension in the rib area. Add some Epsom salts or essential oils to make it even more relaxing.

Soaking in a hot bath for 10-20 minutes can also help promote healing by increasing blood flow to the area. However, staying only a short time can cause increased discomfort or even skin irritation.

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Can stress cause rib pain?

Yes, stress can cause rib pain. Stress can lead to muscle tension that tightens the muscles around your ribs and causes discomfort. Long-term stress can also cause a decrease in range of motion and flexibility, making it harder for you to move freely, which could result in further rib pain.

When should I be concerned about rib pain?

If rib pain is persisting and you’re worried about it, then it’s time to see your doctor. Additionally, seek medical attention immediately if you experience other concerning symptoms, such as fever, difficulty breathing, or chest pain.

What type of doctor should I see for rib pain?

Depending on the cause of your rib pain, you may need to see a specialist such as an orthopaedic doctor or rheumatologist. Your primary care physician can help determine which type of doctor you should see and provide referrals if needed.

Why would your ribs hurt for no reason?

There are several possible causes of rib pain with no known cause. These include inflammation, injury, or a condition such as costochondritis or fibromyalgia. You must consult your doctor to determine the exact cause and receive proper treatment.

Can GERD cause rib pain?

Yes, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can cause rib pain. This is due to stomach acid irritating the oesophagus and causing chest discomfort and rib pain. Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes such as avoiding foods that trigger GERD symptoms and taking medications to reduce stomach acid.

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Various conditions, activities, or stress can cause rib pain. The key to finding relief is identifying the cause of your rib pain and taking appropriate steps to manage it.

Simple treatments such as wearing a supportive bra, avoiding deep breathing or coughing, taking a warm bath, using a support band or brace, and over-the-counter medications can help reduce rib pain. However, if the pain persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it may be time to see your doctor.

The content above provides information about rib pain and offers advice on managing discomfort at home to find relief. It also highlights when it might be necessary to seek medical attention if the pain persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. By following these tips and taking appropriate action, you can find relief from rib pain.