Rib and shoulder blade pain : Good morning all... - PMRGCAuk


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Rib and shoulder blade pain

Looby60 profile image

Good morning all .

Has anyone else experienced rib pain for no reason .

I do have osteoporosis as well as PMR and vertebral fractures .

The last couple of days I feel like I have been used as a punchbag along both my sides into my ribs .

Worse one the right hand side towards shoulder blade .

Hi I cannot up my pred from 5mg and pain relief just doesn’t seem to be doing anything .

Some advice would be appreciated.

Thank you all 😊

54 Replies

The last time I had this sort of pain it was thought to be Costochondritis. Very painful. You just have to wait it out, lots of rest and warmth, maybe paracetamol. It is an inflammation of the tendons that support the ribs I believe. If you are worried or it worsens, talk to your doctor.

I can't help with the rib pain, but the shoulder blade pain has been with me since the start of PMR (nearly 10 years ago). I take Cocodamol.Hope you get some relief soon. 🍀🍀🍀

PMRpro profile image

I get rib pain due to spasmed back muscles and it often reaches into the shoulderblade region. But there are other things that can cause shoulderblade pain so really should be checked out.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

This is down my side as well and does feel like muscular pain . I can move around if careful . No pain at all sitting down . Will see how it goes over weekend . I do have amongst others T12 fracture which reminds me fairly often it’s still there lol .

Appreciate your input as always .

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

Can you take ibuprofen? Try a single 800mg flooding dose and heat over the sore bit - not a quick fix, often takes hours for me, but it does work well for muscular problems.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

Unfortunately can’t take ibuprofen . I do have Diazepam PRN been thinking of trying it to relax muscles . Also take gabapentin and paracetamol on pain relief regime or have option to switch paracetamol for zapain but tried zapain yesterday and just felt crap lol .

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

That was probably the codeine in it - I don't like it either.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

I’m sure another vertebrae wouldn’t have gone as pain is different but like way way back when I overdid it in aerobics lol 😂

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

The rehab rheumy gave me a script for lignocaine/lidocaine patches a few months ago which I was rather reluctant to use but resorted to them a couple of weeks ago for low back spasm. They annoyed me because they really need better adhesive covering to keep them in place, they wriggle and crease with clothes rubbing, but they did an excellent job and one that has persisted long beyond the time I was using them.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

Not heard of these . What I really need is diclofenic but dr reluctant to prescribe because of further risks of stomach bleed and the meds I’m already on . If this persists I will contact and see if I can persuade him for a short course .

Currently sitting here with heat pad on it .

May not even bother trying to get dressed today 😊I will also look the patches up .

Thank you 👍

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

They are a local anaesthetic which effectively acts as a muscle relaxant - the Pain Clinic here has used it for me as injections into trigger points for years but that has disappeared along with Covid - run by the anaesthetists so minimal access to save them. The injections need a doctor - but the patches don't. I was quite sceptical but it has been quite good.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

Wonder if they do them here . Will look up and see . Thank you 😊

MrsNails profile image
MrsNailsPMRGCAuk volunteer in reply to Looby60

The Doctors are very reluctant to prescribe Dicolfenic & they took me off it when l started steroids. I have a different Anti Inflammatory now - due to the knee pain l experience but it is monitored & was approved by my previous Consultant…..

Have you been back to see your GP to see what other options are available to you.

I’ve been having acupuncture for my injured shoulder (Brachial Neuralgia) which has helped enormously 🙏🏼 My GP increased my Amitriptyline to help as well……

Persistent Pain is very hard to deal with. Hope you can find some relief 🍀


Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to MrsNails

This only started 2 days ago . I had a shower ( which involves a great deal of effort as need assistance to climb over bath , get in bath board , hold shower head , wash etc .. I felt no pain when showering . Sometimes putting my bra on when twisting it round to the back I get a little pain which happened that day .

Wondering if I pulled something lol .

Will speak to a dr Monday if possible ( highly unlikely to be my one tho ) can take weeks to get to see your own GP here. Plus no one gets past firstly the reception then if DeemEd necessary a phone appointment.

All good fun . Never seen my consultant who I believe is for osteoporosis. I don’t have anyone other than GP for the Polymyalgia 😊

MrsNails profile image
MrsNailsPMRGCAuk volunteer in reply to Looby60

The b st advise l can offer is - warmth - eg a hot water bottle - take what pain Meds you can regularly do as not to let the pain build up again. I also use something called Instant Refreshing Gel (Elemis) other brands available but the tingling sensation they cause helps deflect the pain even if just for a short while…..

It’s a bit like those headache/migraine balms/rub

Good Luck on Monday 🍀

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to MrsNails

Oh I will need it . It’s easier to get into Fort Knox here than to see a dr lol . Isle of Wight being here . Beautiful place but sadly behind in comparison to the mainland for a lot of things .

YuliK profile image
YuliK in reply to Looby60

Those back fastening bra are really difficult for us PMR sufferers.

You can buy a bra that fastens in the front.

As far a baths are concerned, they are death traps for the elderly, and for peeps who have rheumatoid problems.

I had my bath replaced with a lovely shower. My son wants to install handles on the shower walls to help me if I feel dizzy etc.

Much better for the elderly and definitely *much* safer

mgrogers99 profile image
mgrogers99 in reply to Looby60

Diclofenac gel is over the counter now in the USA and is not expensive.

I use Voltarol gel I asked a pharmacist if it was ok as I have afib and he said the Voltarol that is to use only twice a day is ok and as Voltarol is the other name for Diclofenac it might be worth you giving it a try or ask your own pharmacist about it

Thank you we have some somewhere . Anything is worth a try as other meds just aren’t working 😊

Bizgirl profile image
Bizgirl in reply to PMRpro

I was prescribed Lidocaine patches when I was going thru radiation. My insurance company won’t fill them unless the script is thru hospital because they’re expensive. I had some left over so when I fell recently and cracked a rib they were very helpful to ease my pain.

Janetknit profile image
Janetknit in reply to Looby60

Hi Looby60, so sorry to hear of your pain. I have severe, advanced osteoporosis, snd three fractured vertebrae in my back including T12. The pain you are describing is identical to the pain I had when my T12 fractured… so much shoulder blade pain and rib pain , as the ribs in this area are attached to your vertebrae.. I would contact your doctor to have an X-ray and see if another vertebrae in the neighborhood is compressing. Wish you the best

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to Janetknit

Hi there. My T12 went they think late last year .

This seems higher up right across the back .

They think it might be another fracture in which case as we know nothing can be done . Just pain meds .

Thank you for your reply

I swear by sports bras now, with no fasteners.Bliss one little solution. Your disease does sound quite active. Could you be underdosing?

Unfortunately I cannot increase pred dosage because of other medication and health issues and the risk of stomach bleed . Also on blood thinners so it’s a bit of a cocktail and a dilemma 😳

I see. A real balancing act. That’s hard. My digestive system has been much better with Entric coated Pred. I don’t know if your doctor would approve of those?

Another question for me to ask . I tend to store them up and write them down so when I do finally get to speak to my own GP it’s a long list lol .

Mine too 🙂

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

I'm on blood thinners - no compromise, I take what I need when it comes to pred.

Another option is capsaicin


There has recently been a study which concluded it was effective for pain relief - whatever you do though, DON'T touch your face and eyes if it is on your hands! It is chilli peppers!!!!! Use gloves to apply it. But I used to use it the best part of 40 years ago - my therapeutic masseur swore by it

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

Have saved this to look at thank you . I think half the problem is not knowing if this is a flare up or as a result of my collapsed vertebrae . It’s very difficult to know when there are a few things going on .

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Looby60

It is and very very helpful once you know your body well enough to say it is this - or ISN'T.

What on earth was the junior doc pulling you about for? I have sacroiliac problems but the doctors I see prod - not pull!! A lot of my sacroiliac pain is actually muscular in origin with spasmed muscles pulling the joint tightly together and leading to the inflammation.

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

I really don’t know re junior dr and curse myself now for being so stupid to let her do it . But of course we learn as we progress and she wouldn’t get away with it now lol

YuliK profile image
YuliK in reply to SheffieldJane

Truth be known, during isolation period of the early Covid, I went without my bra. Bliss. 😃

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to YuliK

Oh it is bliss but unfortunately I’mRather big busted plus stomach pushed forward meets the boobs lol

Tell me about it!

Well he has been most accommodating as he amongst other doctors initially wrongly diagnosed sacroiliac joint problem and a junior doctor at the surgery pulled me around so much I was in agony . Resulted a few days later in being hospitalised with vertebral collapse . Although it may have had nothing to do with it of course . Straw that broke the camels back comes to mind .

You could try topical ibuprofen. I'm not in the UK but I am sure you can get OTC. No systemic side effects. Do speak to your doctor for other solutions (investigations)...also aren't there pain specialists you could be put in touch with by your GP? Women put up with far too much pain. Hope it eases soon.

Topical ibuprofen can be absorbed into the blood stream if you use a lot of it. Side effects are fewer than when using oral ibuprofen of course. Caution still needs to be used because you can experience side effects.

I have exactly the same...ache all around my ribs and worse on the right. Had this for a couple of months now. Finally got to see GP who has arranged for me to have a chest X Ray.

I do get the chest/muscular pain sometimes with neck pain. I'm lucky and it's not too bad and tends to move on to somewhere else after a day or so. I thought it might be related to some activity but I haven't been able to make a good correlation. But, it does move on. I hope yours does too....

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to Selfbuilder

Thank you . It has moved but to the other side and still painful .

Alebeau profile image
Alebeau in reply to Looby60

I had it on both sides for 15 years before trying this exercise. It takes a while to get the benefits but it sure did the trick for me. Now that my shoulder muscles are toned, no more tendinitis.

I took the liberty of writing out the Superman exercise.

Do this exercise on a soft carpet.

Only do it when your pain is manageable.

Lie on your stomach and put a small cushion under your face if you need to, I never did.

Next extend both arms in front of you.

Now only using your shoulder muscles raise both arms as high as you can and hold for five seconds. Don't lift your head or use any back muscles. Do this 5 times.

Next put both arms down beside your body then again raise them as high as you can only using your shoulder muscles. Repeat this five times.

That's it.

It was a miracle cure for me after 15 years of pain.

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Alebeau

Sounds promising - only one problem: I might never get up off the floor again ;)

Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to PMRpro

I was about to say myself lol . Plus I can’t lay in my stomach either 😊

I suffer from pain in my right shoulder blade a lot of the time, also rib pain. Nothing seems to help.

Yes. Left hand side. Early 2011, 5 years before diagnosis. Couldn't reach the car door passenger side to close it. Excrutiating. Saw physios, osteopath, painkillers useless. Lasted a few months.

So sorry you're in pain. I sometimes get that pain around my ribs and often after I've had a rather prolonged sneezing session.

The shoulder pain I find is really helped by using a massage ball. I used one a coupe of hours ago and my shoulder/neck pain has dissipated with no need to resort to analgesia.

Massage balls of differing colours.
Looby60 profile image
Looby60 in reply to IdasMum

Thank you . Must look into these . Although now I’m wondering if it another vertebral fracture as pain is across upper back more now 😳. After waiting 12 hours for out of hours dr to call and still haven’t . I will be phoning my GP practice tomorrow instead

I've skim read most of the replies and didn't see a reference to Costochondritis. Worth consideration depending on precise location and source of pain... nhs.uk/conditions/costochon...

apologies the ever-reliable SheffieldJane calls it out in the first reply🤭

I would think it is costonchondritis. I've had it twice. There are some stretches on the internet that I found helpful. And last time, I rubbed it with cbd cream and it went away quickly. Other than that, it will eventually go away on its own.

Yes I have terrible rib pain with PMR and also in shoulder blades.I had a complete body scan for another problem...cysts in pancreas...but they told me I had PMR in ribs and clavicle...which my consultant said couldn't be PMR.! So yes you can get it in ribs after three years on steroids trying to get off them but very difficult as pain is bad.My consultant has told me to stop but nothing else works.Hope your rheumatologist is more sympathetic than mine!!

I decreased my prednisolone myself after finding out I had osteoporosis and vertebral collapse . Staying on 5mg . My GP is my go to .don’t think I even have a rheumatologist. Spoke to a GP at my practice today after waiting over 9 hours for 111 dr to callMe back yesterday to no avail .

It’s possible it’s another vertebral fracture . So just rest get up regularly to stretch legs and keep taking the pills lol .

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