Rib pain from spine mets?

For a year & a half, I've had sporadic pain on various ribs, in front. I don't have bone mets on my ribs, but I do on my spine. Various doctors in my health plan have been involved, & relevant imaging has been done, & the only theory is that my spine mets are somehow causing this. Is anyone else having a similar problem? Fortunately, my doctor prescribed Voltaren gel, & it really helps.

17 Replies

  • With spine mets, you can get pain radiating just about anywhere, since the spine is so full of nerves.     I get pain that radiates down my legs, but I've never had rib pain, even when I had a fractured rib last year--it just showed up on a scan, and I never knew what caused it or when.


  • Thanks, Cericwin. Are you talking about the leg pain that most docs call neuropathy, which my neurologist says is really central pain syndrome? Are you taking gabapentin/Neurontin?

  • No, the sciatica-like pain is quite different from neuropathy.     And this kind of pain is due to advanced metastatic prostate cancer.

    I don't take gabapentin.        For pain, I'm on extended-release morphine, and for breakthrough pain I have Dilaudid (hydromorphone).


  • Sorry about that. I know how sciatica feels from experience decades ago, so I won't be looking forward to that if that's in my future. I wish you the best.

  • I also have spine mets and have rib pain. It seems like the pain is between the ribs more than directly on them. The pain is worse in the morning when waking up. In my case, I had/have compression fractures of some vertebra. I was told that the compression fractures could be the cause. I am not sure since the fractures have healed.  I am also taking Lynparza which has bone, joint and muscle aches listed as a side effect. So maybe could be a side effect of one of your medicines.

  • Thanks, brulex. I thought my pains were on cartilage at first, but eventually realized they were on bone. Can you locate a pain spot with a finger? That's where you could apply Voltaren--or if you then realize there is pain going out along the rib, you can smear it on along the rib. Mine was worst upon waking for months when it first started happening. It started on a single lower rib, & now it's on multiple upper ribs, often simultaneously & often on both sides.

  • I my 16 years of treatment, I have often had rib pain, sometimes quite severe. We determined it was caused by my spine mets. I have never had a positive test for any rib mets. Generally my Tramadol and Celebrex combo took the edge off of the pain, except if Icoughed, sneezed or laughed. I hope this is reassuring.

  • Thanks, Arch. It's good to hear that other doctors came to the same conclusion as mine. You should ask your doc to prescribe Voltaren gel. Within a minute or a few minutes, the pain is likely to go away. You may need more later, or in a different spot, but usually I do get complete relief for hours or days.

  • Thank you, that is a new one to me. That is why this kind of forum is so great!

  • Hi My name is Jack Bishop, I live in So.Cal. USA, Yes I am now having pain in my ribs, it hurts, I like to sleep on my side and when I move I have pain, I also have dull constant pain there too right now it is just my right side,  other symptoms include stiff lower back and pain on the bottom of my feet.

    I am 58yrs RP Surgery in 2011, am now on Lupron and Zytiga, my psa is now 8.3 , I am scheduled for a body scan on the 23rd ,

    hang in there my brother


  • Thanks, Jack. I'm not sure your rib pain is the same as mine, but maybe Voltaren gel (by prescription) would give you relief as it does for me. As for the bottom of your feet, please see my first reply to Cericwin, above. I hope there's no bad news on your scan & that your doctor(s) can provide symptomatic relief.

  • Ex had horrible rib pain during chemo, enough to send him to ER for rule out pulmonary embolism.  He has widespread mets, but worse on spine.  Pain mostly resolved with discontinuation of docetaxel.  Meds like neulasta, taken during chemo, can also cause bone pain.

  • Thank you for the helpful info, C.s. If he's still with us, I hope he's feeling better.

  • Hi Neal. Remember Harley's spinal cord compression? Well the neuro surgeon called his pain radicular, which he told us meant, it jumps around. It was in his spine, his shoulders, his chest, and then here and there in the ribs. I would say that the spinal mets could definitely cause pain that sort of hops around. Best of luck.

  • Hi Charlean. I do remember. I think that confirms what my doctors concluded, although there was no neurosurgeon involved & I didn't learn "radicular" until now. Did the rib pains stop for Harley or is it ongoing? If the latter, have you tried Voltaren? I definitely recommend it. Thanks for the wishes, & best of luck to you & Harley.

  • All of the pain is gone from the compression but now his face is a total mess! Originally he had been diagnosed with bells palsy in Jan. Then he started having someterrible facial and eye pain, felt like his eye was going to explode. Then he had ear pain, hearing loss, ruptured eardrum. pain was so excruciating that they diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia. Now, after the second MRI, it appears there is cancer at the base of his skull, the dura, on the nerves on right side, and in the sinus cavity. Just when I think what else can go wrong,  there is always something new! We arent sure what to do for this pain as oxycontin doesn't seem to help. Prednisone helps a bit but not on bad days. INot sure what the neuro surgeon is going to say as he didnt think it was cancer two months ago.... I hope you find relief soon. 

  • Wow, Charlean. How rough for you guys. (I wonder if something like this is in my future.) I'm OK with these rib pains, thanks to Voltaren gel. I just wanted to know whether others had similar rib pains & if they were also told the pains were caused by spine mets. 

    Is radiation &/or surgery an option for Harley, or is that what you're waiting to find out? Or are you waiting to find out about meds that might treat the pain better? I hope Harley finds relief soon!

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