Why Do My Ribs Hurt When I Wake Up?

Mar 21, 2022

Why Do My Ribs Hurt When I Wake UpThe ribcage is made up of a group of bones along your torso. Most people have twenty-four ribs, and their job is to protect your most vital organs, including your heart and lungs. Injuries to this area may occur as a result of physical trauma, such as a fall or an injury sustained while playing sports. Figuring out why you are experiencing pain in the morning or when you breathe depends on what incident caused the pain in the first place. Some of the conditions that cause rib pain are fairly benign and resolve on their own or with the help of professionals like Marietta Chiropractors. Others need immediate or intensive medical intervention.


Costochondritis is caused by inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. This cartilage is connected to the bones by joints called costochondral joints. In most cases of costochondritis, patients feel pain in more than one area of the rib cage, usually somewhere along the second through fifth rib bone. This disorder is quite common, especially in adults aged over 40.

The sharp pain or aching pressure involved in costochondritis comes and goes. It usually occurs on the left side of your breastbone and usually worsens when you cough. It can be caused by a number of factors, including injury, physical strain, arthritis, infection of the joints, and tumors.

Costochondritis is not serious, and the pain usually resolves itself. You can also manage pain with over-the-counter medications.

Tietze’s Syndrome

Costochondritis is often confused with Tietze’s syndrome. Tietze’s syndrome is another condition that causes similar inflammation in the rib area, but this disorder is much less common. In most cases of Tietze’s syndrome, only one costochondral junction causes rib pain. This disorder is usually diagnosed in teens and young adults. The exact cause is unknown, but it can be exacerbated by physical trauma, excessive and chronic vomiting or coughing, and viral infections. Your ribs may hurt when you breathe in or when you cough. There may also be evidence of swelling.

While both costochondritis and Tietze’s syndrome are not serious conditions, it is important to seek medical attention in order to rule out a more severe problem, such as a heart attack, which can have very similar symptoms. Chiropractic reduces inflammation from injuries, as well.


Another painful condition that causes pain in the rib cage is known as pleurisy, or pleuritis. The pleura are large, thin sheets of tissues lining the inside of your chest cavity and around your lungs to provide extra protection for your lungs. Normally the space between the layers of the pleura contains fluid to help your pleura glide smoothly against one another, but inflammation of the tissue causes the pleura to rub against each other, resulting in pain. This problem is often caused by infectious diseases that affect the lungs, such as pneumonia.

The type of rib pain caused by pleurisy is felt in the chest area but can spread to your back or shoulders. It is often described as sharp or stabbing. You may also experience shortness of breath, cough, fever, shallow breathing, unexplained weight loss, and sore throat.

Broken or Bruised Rib

Your ribs are vulnerable to fractures and bruises, usually from car accident injuries or sports accident injuries. Sometimes, these injuries can also occur from chronic and severe coughing or vomiting, as well as during the administration of CPR. Broken and bruised rib bones will be felt in the chest or back, especially when you breathe in, due to the expansion of your lungs. If you twist your torso, the pain may worsen.

Rib fractures are not usually fatal, but there is a chance of the ends of the broken bones piercing your lungs. Complete breaks are much more dangerous than partial breaks for this reason, especially in older people. Over 55% of people aged sixty or older die from symptoms related to experiencing a broken rib, often sustained due to a prolonged case of coughing from some other illness.


Your lungs are protected by your rib cage, so if you are experiencing lung cancer – the second most deadly form of cancer in the United States – you are likely to experience pain in the area of your rib cage. This pain will worsen with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing. You may also experience bloody phlegm, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

If these symptoms sound familiar, talk to a doctor right away. Lung cancer does not have a strong outlook for adults of any age, but the earlier intervention occurs, the more likely you are to survive. Metastatic lung cancer is also a concern; this life-threatening disease begins in the lung and then spreads to the rest of your body.


Fibromyalgia has historically been very misunderstood, and even still experts are still trying to learn more. It is a syndrome comprising of a group of seemingly unrelated symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms are body aches and pains, chronic fatigue that does not improve with rest, and sleep disruptions.

These symptoms can also include rib pain, and in fact, unexplained pain in the rib cage is one of the most common symptoms reported alongside a primary diagnosis of fibromyalgia. 90% of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.

Pulmonary Embolism

This disorder is the most immediately life-threatening on this list, other than late-stage lung cancer. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms somewhere in the body and travels to the lungs. These blood clots often occur in the legs, especially if the legs are not stimulated often enough, such as during a very long flight.

If you are dealing with a pulmonary embolism, your pain may be accompanied by severe and unexplained pain in the shoulder, chest, and back, depending on which lung is affected. You may also experience irregular heartbeat, dizziness or lightheadedness, rapid breathing, a cough that produces blood, and a weak pulse. Seek emergency medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms in tandem.