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Intercostal Pain : Definition, Causes, Mechanism, Risk Factors, Treatment, and Consultation

Tuesday, September 18th 2012. | Pain

Intercostal Pain Definition

Intercostal pain is pain called parietal localized to the chest wall and usually in relation to the intercostal nerves.

Intercostal pain may be related to muscles, nerves or ribs and their articulations that constitute the praoi the chest.  Cettte pain but can hide a more serious problem it is heart or lung.

For this reason, as it should be with any pain in the thoracic region it is important to consult your doctor quickly. Alone can make the difference through an interview and a thorough clinical examination, and sometimes additional tests specifically due between parietal and cuases more serious requiring emergency action particularly cardiac or respiratory.

Intercostal pain is pain awakened by movement or coughing and sneezing, amplified by thoracic movements (inspiration, expiration) and, especially, reproduced by palpation or compression of the thorax.


It can be due to a shock, trauma or a wrong move.

A douleurpurement intercostal receive treatment usually simple: rest, analgesics and anti-inflammatory sometimes.

Intercostal Pain Causes

Intercostal pain causes variables have usually easy to identify once the causes heart and lung removed.

Intercostal pain are called parietal pain, that is to say, they concern the chest wall: nerves, the ribs (with their different joints) or muscles.

The intercostal neuralgia original spine sit on the path of an intercostal nerve. They result from a stretching or inflammation of the nerve at its emergence between the vertebrae. They are most often caused by trauma: false motion, herniated disc …

The intercostal neuralgia due to nerve damage most often appear at the waning of shingles (a viral disease characterized by a rash of small blisters) intercostal.

Intercostal cramps are cramps intercostal muscles of sudden onset and short duration. They usually disappear in less than half an hour.

Creases or tears the intercostal muscles are the result of trauma or strenuous exercise or coughing episodes important.

Rib fractures most often the result of trauma. More rarely, they occur due to coughing, or even more rarely spontaneously on vulnerable coasts (osteoporosis, tumors).

Sprains rib may occur by direct contusion, sudden movement by rotation, by stress stretching or compression of the thorax.

Joint inflammation (arthritis) are rather localized cartilage between the sternum and the coast (Tietze syndrome).

The rib lesions are very rare tumors, metastases, osteomyelitis (bone infection).

The post-operative thoracic surgery , particularly coronary artery bypass.

Intercostal Pain Mechanism

Chest wall consists of ribs that articulate with the vertebrae back and forth with the sternum (lying flat located in the anterior and middle of the chest). Between the ribs is intercostal space which contains blood vessels, muscles and intercostal nerves. These emerge between the vertebrae.

When false movements, efforts, shock or coughing important muscles can be stretched, crumpled or torn.

At other times, stretched or compressed nerves become inflamed, creating pain.

The pain is sometimes in the joints of the coast or the coast itself by rheumatism or shock, or following specific lesions.

Intercostal Pain Risk Factors

Certain factors predispose to the development of intercostal pain:

- Old age (because of osteoarthritis more frequently);

- The presence of herniated discs in the spine dorsal

- The athlete has more risk of injury because of it’s activity;

- The subject carrying recurrent pulmonary diseases;

- Smoking (for lung and cough).

When the intercostal pain is installed, certain events may slow its demise.

Most pain is caused from trauma or shock that hurt the muscles or nerves.

Continue efforts or movements that cause discomfort worsens the pain by delaying healing.

The appearance of a violation of Bronchopulmonary significant worsening cough with pain also seeking the muscles, ribs and nerves. Tobacco is very harmful.

Intercostal Pain Treatment

When wrinkles or tearing of the intercostal muscles or stretching during or inflammation of the nerves, the crux of the treatment is the quiescence of the elements concerned.

Avoid movements that cause discomfort or pain.

Often anti-inflammatories or analgesics can help speed healing.

Depending on the case, physiotherapy or osteopathy may be proposed.

If there are broken ribs, it will take about four weeks to get a consolidation.

Because of severe pain, analgesics are often necessary in case of fracture.

How to live with?

There are simple measures to prevent certain intercostal pain:

- For athletes: Warm up before exercise and relax after;

- Drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least two liters) and all the more so that your physical activity is important;

- If you have herniated discs known, avoid movements that seek your spine too;

- Do sports regularly and gradually to train your body and do not ask him brutally an effort that transcends it.

 - Stop smoking;

Tietze Syndrome

Tietze’s syndrome is an inflammation of the cartilage at the junction of the sternum and one or more ribs.

It may result from a blow or trauma, but it is most often found no obvious trigger. Pain, significant, and may worry to fear a cardiac.

This is why we should not hesitate to consult your doctor who will remove through careful questioning, a heart and lung.

When Tietze’s syndrome, the pain is aggravated by movement or palpation local.

The most common radiological examinations are not necessary. However, depending on the context, especially when a big shock, your doctor may order X-rays of the area.

Most often, the pain goes away in a few days with rest (avoid efforts responsible for discomfort) and anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics.

Intercostal Pain Consultation

Be able to adequately describe this pain will allow your physician to make a diagnosis more easily.

To prepare for your appointment with your doctor try to make clear your pain and all that can accompany her because it will make it easier

- Is it violent? permanent or intermittent? Do you feel it in the day or rather night? She causes insomnia?

- Since when do you have? Is this the first time?

- What is its specific situation and it radiates, ie is felt elsewhere?

- What type is it: burning, crushing … ? Is it triggered by certain movements? Is it related to stress? A cough?

- For what is it relieved? Certain positions? Drugs?

In addition,

- Do you cough a lot at this time? You sputum and what color?

- Do you have a fever?

- Have you had an impact on the chest? What kind of sports do you practice?

- Have you already made specific diseases: heart, lung, shingles, cholesterol, blood clots …?

- Do you smoke? How many cigarettes per day and for how many years?

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