Rib tightness: Hi all, hope all of you... - Asthma UK communi...

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Rib tightness

Kate261 profile image

Hi all, hope all of you are keeping well in the sunshine. I’m just wondering if I am alone here?! My asthma has been up and down but lately I’ve been getting a feeling of tightness in my ribs, round my back and sides and I have pain when it’s touched. My boyfriend tried to massage out the tightness and I couldn’t stand the pain 😩

Any ideas??

Thank you in advance!

Kate

19 Replies

Have you tried your blue inhaler to see if that helps? Tightness is a well-known asthma symptom but could be other things too. But if your reliever helps then use that and keep an eye on things and contact your asthma nurse or GP.

Also maybe try antihistamines in case pollen is the cause of the flare.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to twinkly29

Thank you! I have, it tends to show up at night but in the day if I’m walking up a hill I’m also struggling. I take fexofenadine all year round and montelukast so I don’t imagine it’s that? I’ve got a consultant appt soon but the pain was so bad when he touched it, I occasionally get a catching pain when I twist so maybe it’s all connected.

twinkly29 profile image
twinkly29 in reply to Kate261

Regardless of the pain (which is possibly muscular linked to asthma tightness) it sounds like you need to contact your GP or do whatever is on your asthma plan as you're having night issues and problems on exertion which could be a sign your asthma is flaring up. What's your peak flow like? It can be helpful to do your peak flow before using your reliever and again 15 mins afterwards because, along with improved symptoms or not, it can show whether it's likely to be asthma related.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to twinkly29

Thank you, I will do. My peak flow is only ever 350 on a good day (and I’m 34) so I’ll do that test- that’s a good shout!

twinkly29 profile image
twinkly29 in reply to Kate261

Age is largely irrelevant in terms of peak flow. The only important thing is what it's doing compared to your normal best. Some people's doesn't necessarily drop much even in a flare but the pre/post ventolin peak flow can be a useful indicator and can be helpful to tell a GP as evidence.

Here's a link to an earlier discussion that may help healthunlocked.com/asthmauk...

Physiotherapy can help as well as stretching the rib cage - New Zealand physios developed something called a Backpod which is used to stretch out rib cage by lying back onto the pod, creating the optimum stretch of the rib cage. I would seek physiotherapy first though to ensure any exercises are tailored to you.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Poobah

Thank you for the link and replying; I wondered if it was costrocondritis but would it hurt only when touched or would it be ongoing? I was aiming to wait to talk to my consultant at the end of June but it’s still a telephone appt - and usually the doc says to talk to them anyway

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to Kate261

I know that during my chiropractic treatment they pay particular attention to my rib cage and it's usually very sore to touch, but always feels more "elastic" afterwards. But I see a chiropractor as I have a wonky pelvis, otherwise I would definitely go to a physio. I've had physio for various musculoskeletal issues and I've found the treatment and exercises a great relief. Ideally a proper diagnosis first will ensure the right treatment.

No doubt waiting lists are long but you can go private, which is usually no more expensive than a trip to the hairdressers. (That's my way of convincing myself to pay for private physio). If you think this is going to be an ongoing problem, with ongoing expenses, it may be worth considering physiotherapy health insurance. moneysupermarket.com/health...

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Poobah

Thank you, this is really helpful! I’ve had to book an appt at the GP on Thursday in any case as my work won’t uphold a request to work part of the week from home; as I’m feeling so fatigued, from me telling them alone so I will speak to them too.

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to Kate261

Good luck! Hope you get relief soon.

It could be costochondritis I suffer from it alot and it can last for months. If you press your sternum and press on your ribs does it really hurt its usually the left side. If Im touched its very painful. It can mimic a heart attack lots of people go to A&E. I use 10% brufen gel and heat it helps especially at night. Its probably your asthma flare up and coughing has exaserbated it. Google costochondritis and see, it gives diagrams of the ribs and pinpoints pain area. Go to Gp if you are worried.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Spikedog66

Thank you, yes it’s particularly tender both sides but left is worse :(I’m speaking to GP on Thursday, thank you, such fun isn’t it!

Spikedog66 profile image
Spikedog66 in reply to Kate261

Its wonderful... NOT!!!! Every movement hurts, people have posted about stress being a factor I totally agree this last 18 months has been horrific and such sadness you going through is awful.. No words so very very sorry for your loss and heartache. My thoughts are with you and your family. Take care get well soon. xx

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Spikedog66

Thank you so much, it’s not constant pain but when it catches me unawares it stops me in its tracks! I imagine that is the case, thank you so much, it’s been quite a year all round hasn’t it, hope you do too xx

Hi Kate, I’ve got costochrondritus & it sounds very similar to your pain. Please be careful if using a backpod. I bought one £70 when in lockdown, shielding & couldn’t go to my osteopath. It made things worse!! I realised mine started when I had high anxiety over family ill health & Covid. Meditation, 10% iboprofen gel, resting & osteopath treatment have helped me. Good luck with a diagnosis.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Inhale

Thanks so much, my misery got exacerbated with my dad dying with COVID last April and I’ve not really felt well since. Thank you so much, I’m sorry you’ve been suffering too!

Inhale profile image
Inhale in reply to Kate261

I’m very sorry for you in your loss. This might well be the catalyst for your pain. Emotional pain can come out as physical pain too, I’m pretty certain mine is linked. I hope you can get good support.

Kate261 profile image
Kate261 in reply to Inhale

Thank you so much

I think I have a similar thing. A chiropractor called it something like rib displacement and she did help my breathing a bit. It hurts to get a massage but a gentle one weekly should slowly work it out. I decided to try a bimonthly chiropractor alternating with bimonthly massage and I think it is helping.

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