Not all ribcage pain is caused by cracked or fractured ribs. Some are caused by a disorder called osteochondritis dissecans. This is not only an affliction of the ribs, but it can certainly cause severe rib pain. It is not commonly found in smaller joints such as the fingers and toes. It is commonly found in those who are very active such as athletes.
What Causes Osteochondritis Dissecans?
This is a condition that strikes those who are quite active, meaning you don’t get it from long term joint or bone deterioration. Osteochondritis dissecans is caused by force or injury to the end of the bone. When it happens to a rib the rib, it occurs where the rib attaches to the spine or sternum. Generally speaking, it doesn’t often occur because of a single incident: it is more likely to occur after repeated blows to the same area.
Osteochondritis dissecans can be caused by repetitive motion and overuse – in other words, performing the same task or doing the same motion over and over. Think of an NFL quarterback constantly throwing passes. This is the type of action that can cause this affliction. Also, imagine the same quarterback taking tackles over the period of a season to the same area of the rib cage. This is a perfect combination of action to trigger osteochondritis dissecans.
Symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans
One of the best indicators of osteochondritis dissecans is tenderness in the rib area. This is going to be at the end of the bone.
When you do a physical activity which causes some pain or discomfort, it can be another indication of this disorder. Even pain when breathing may be a symptom. You may notice that the site of the pain becoming swollen and tender to the touch.
Treating Osteochondritis Dissecans
The main thing to remember is that if you have any of the signs or symptoms or participate in any of the activities that can make you prone to osteochondritis dissecans, you should seek a medical evaluation immediately. When it is not treated, the long term effects can be debilitating. Quick treatment can mean a lessening of the symptoms and a return to some normalcy of the joints. This can also help to lessen the intense pain that is associated with this condition.
The best medicine for this injury is simply to rest the body and to avoid sports or anything that can aggravate it. It is also a good idea to stay as immobile as possible. This can be difficult when it affects the ribs, since nearly everything any motion or movement you make is going to aggravate them. Just sleeping and rolling over can wake you out of a deep sleep. Normal breathing can be painful, but strenuous activities can make it even more painful.
When the pain is too intense, your doctor can prescribe pain killers. Some physicians may want to do surgery to repair as much of the affected area as possible in extreme cases. The important thing it to get medical attention as soon as the pain begins to get a proper diagnosis.