These are the symptoms you can tell if you have a rib block

Typical symptoms of a rib block

  • Pain, often dependent on the breath (especially when inhaling), following the anatomical course of a rib
  • Pain-related restriction of movement
  • back pain due to the pain-related relieving posture
  • Difficulty breathing (maximum inhalation subjectively not possible up to shortness of breath)
  • neurological symptoms similar to those of a herniated disc (impaired sensation, loss of strength) i.B. the arms down to the fingers
  • Circulatory problems, often due to hyperventilation, as symptoms come suddenly and resemble a heart attack


Pain is characteristic of the presence of a rib block, although it is almost always dependent on the breath and is at its maximum during inhalation. If those affected are supposed to point their finger at the painful area, they usually point to a specific rib and intuitively trace it with a movement of the hand starting from the spine. Depending on the severity of the blockage, the intensity of the pain increases and is accompanied by back pain if it is prolonged.
This is because those affected unconsciously take a position in which their pain is reduced. However, the back muscles are not used to this unusual posture and certain muscles are overworked. A hardening of muscle fibers is the result, which manifests itself in back pain. However, it is also possible for the pain to radiate, which is due to the irritation of nerve fibers near the rib block. In the case of a bad posture caused by pain, the unusual position of the vertebrae can lead to a stretching or compression of nerves in the immediate vicinity, so that these nerves reactively transmit the sensation of "pain". It is not uncommon for this to be accompanied by pain that extends into the shoulder blades or the chest region. This, in turn, can lead to the wrong assessment that a heart attack is present.

Also read the article on the topic: Rib Block- How Can It Be Solved?

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath usually occurs with a rib block, when those affected cannot correctly assess the symptoms that suddenly set in. Due to the unfamiliar situation and the pain when inhaling, they often get scared and no longer dare to take a deep breath. The result is shallow breathing with an increased frequency, which is known in technical terms as hyperventilation. If this form of breathing continues, not enough carbon dioxide can be exhaled and those affected experience this as shortness of breath.

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Intercostal neuralgia

Intercostal neuralgia should not be confused with a rib block. A rib block is a bony problem in the joint between a vertebral body and a rib. The intercostal neuralgia, on the other hand, is only a symptom and neurological in nature. With her, a nerve that runs below a rib is irritated. Both clinical pictures can express themselves in the form of pain in the rib area. Experience has shown that intercostal neuralgia is more likely to be located in the anterior region of the chest, whereas a blockage in the ribs radiates from the back, i.e. from the spine, into the chest.

Also read the article on the topic: Intercostal neuralgia


Nausea is actually a rare symptom of a rib block. When it occurs, it is usually due to the fact that the person affected is so absorbed by the pain that their discomfort manifests itself in nausea. From an anatomical point of view, a rib block has no direct impact on the stomach.
However, it has been proven that the production of gastric acid is increased during stress and this in turn can lead to irritation of the gastric mucosa with accompanying nausea. However, this process takes time, whereas a blockage in the ribs often resolves spontaneously with movement and is therefore only temporary. However, this mechanism is possible if the symptoms persist.

Back pain

Back pain is a common symptom of a rib block because the affected rib forms a bony joint with the spine in the back area. If this joint is changed in its position, a different pressure is exerted on the joint-forming bones. If the tension is sustained, then pain occurs in this area because nerve endings on the affected structures are irritated.

Chest pain

In itself, chest pain is a possible symptom of a rib block, as the ribs are the bony border of the chest area. But you have to define the term chest pain more precisely. Pain in the back is typical for rib blocks, but those affected can also describe it as chest pain due to the possible radiation along a rib. This is often described as a feeling of tightness in those affected. However, the maximum pain has its emphasis on the back area.


Feelings of numbness are rather rare with a classic rib block and develop especially when the deformity has persisted for a long time. The reason for the numbness is the irritation of the spinal nerves, similar to a herniated disc. In the case of a rib blockage, however, it is not the intervertebral disc material that presses on the nerve and causes the symptoms, but the pain-related posture leads to an overstretching or compression of the neighboring nerve fibers. This can then lead to symptoms similar to those of a herniated disc. The blockage must definitely be resolved here in order to prevent neurological problems

Also read the article on the topic: Loosening a rib block

How can I tell the difference between the symptoms of heart disease?

It should be emphasized from the outset that in acute cases of illness it is very difficult for laypeople to distinguish between a blockage of the ribs and a heart disease, which is why a medical examination should always be carried out if the symptoms are unclear. However, it is typical of an acute heart disease such as a heart attack, for example, that the pain in the chest area is persistent or increasing and is independent of breathing. The pain can be transmitted to the shoulder area, the lower jaw and the stomach area.

Also read the article on the topic: Symptoms of a heart attack

With a rib block, on the other hand, the pain mainly occurs when inhaling. Another indication of the presence of an acute heart disease is the perception of cardiac arrhythmias, which those affected often perceive as stumbling or an irregular heartbeat. In the case of chronic heart disease and the associated decompensations, global symptoms are also in the foreground. Right ventricular failure often has lower leg edema and left ventricular failure is often accompanied by pulmonary edema and is specific to these diseases. Non-specific general symptoms such as nausea or circulatory problems are conceivable in both clinical pictures.