New to the forum?

Sign Up Here!

Already a member?
Please login below.

Forgot your password?
Need Help?  
Severe Spasms or Cramps in side of Rib Cage?
64 Replies
ptalana - February 7

Hi susiequick71,from what I've learned Costochondritis is not a medication it is a condition. Costo is an inflammation between the rib cartilage and the sternum or breastbone. This causes the extreme pain, when it's followed with swelling it's then referred to as Tietze syndrome. Costochondritis is definitively linked to Fms, and treatment is normally in dealing with managing the pain. Anti-inflammatories are used primarily when dealing with the pain. But due to the medications we take with our Fms, anti-inflamatories are not an option for us. There are a few things we can do at home to help, one of which is applying heat, and light moderate exercises such as water therapy, and to avoid anything too strenuous such as heavy lifting. Costo tends to go away on it's own, but can reoccur.
I personally haven't found anything to alleviate my symptoms. But mine is exacerbated by my scoliosis and the rib hump that has developed in the same area. I do apply a heating pad to this area when I can stand the pressure, the heat does tend to help.
Definitely discuss all your symptoms with your doctor.
Sending you gentle hugs, Patty


suzie 21 - February 9


I have not long been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritus and although taking medication fot it, the chronic pain i suffer has not got any better but they have now confirmed that the stress of the pain i get from the arthritus is causing Fibromyalgia. This pain is worse than the arthritus and i seem to get it worst around my rib cage, although my shoulders, elbows, hips back and inside my knees hurt alot too but i know what you mean about the spasms, i find my self moving side to side and back and forth to try to ease it, i sometimes think people will think i am going completely mad. I take regular pain relief but only takes the edge off it! The only thing that really helps me are 2 hot water bottles either side of my body under both my arm pits, it really eases the spasms. Gived it a try if you have't already.


Megc - February 10

Hi, KAP. I'm having this symptom right now, and my doctor diagnosed it as costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage that holds the ribs to the sternum or breastbone. It's my understanding that appears frequently in fibromyalgia patients. It's treated with ibuprophen and rest, and may be intermittent, chronic, or only happen once. I've had FM for 15 years, and this is the first time I've had this! It made me extremely anxious, because I kept wondering if I was having heart problems.


Bud - September 16

I have been getting cramps in my ribs down mainly one side and spreading to my back. These cramps start after something like trying to clean my backside after going to the toilet or if the steering wheel is stiff. Any twist or turn or sneeze will set it off. I have had it for 9 years and not one doctor could solve it.
Until today, I thought I was the only one in the world with the problem.
I have been keeping it under control by taking Quinsul. One tablet each night helps a lot but I am worried about long term side effects. I still do not know the cause but I do notice that the problem came after I had a discectomy in my lower back. I don't know if it is relevant but I have had my appendix and gall bladder removed many years prior to the cramps. I found out, some years after the onset of cramps, that I have a pituitary cyst that causes hormonal imbalances. Have any of your fellow cramp sufferers also had spinal surgery?? Most recent Rheumatologist told me there is a connection to spinal problems.


RLFORTIN - September 16

I experience the rib pain on my right side almost daily. It is felt in my ribcage through to my back. I have had the pain for over a year and have had many tests done with everything turning out to be normal. I assume that it is just another pain of Fibro...sometimes a heating pad helps with it.


Dedee - November 22

What a relief to know that I am not the only one who gets those horrible cramps on both sides of my ribs and they run around to my back. THey knock the wind right out of me. If I laugh hard, or sneeze, or cough or twist ever so slightly one way or the other, the muscles just lock up into a spasm. Not everyday, but most, so that I'm alway on guard, and as others have mentioned it is very embarrassing to have this happen when you're out somewhere. It's nearly impossible to try not to show your predicament because it is so painful and just makes you double over. I've had these cramps for years and years. No doctor has ever shown any concern about them when I mention it. Next checkup I'm asking about Fibromyalgia. Wouldn't surprise me. I have a whole laundry list of problems. Crohns disease and non-alcoholic Cirrhosis of the liver a.k.a. auto-immune Cirrhosis. good to know I'm not the only person with this problem. And there might even be a name for it.


JimWithPains - January 2

I know what you mean by saying flopping around like a fish out of water. I've been getting those same rib cramps now for about four years. For me this starts in the winter, usually after I get a lung infection or catch some cold virus. As I'm writting this I can feel the muscles around my right ribs quivering, ready to go into major cramping. I just got over a cramping session a few minutes ago. It's severe and nothing seems to help. I told my doctor and both he and a lung specialest said the same thing. They said I'm overworking my muscles that aid my breathing because I'm breathing too rapidly and I have a persistent cough , which at times I don't even realize I have. So they said it's like any other muscle when you overwork it, it ends up cramping. It seems to go away after the winter ends which is also when my asthma gets better. The only thing my doctor suggested was to do some stretching excersises, and I've tried that and I've not noticed any helpful effect from doing that.

I think it's odd because before four years ago I never had this happen to me even though every winter I have increased breathing problems due to my asthma. The other thing my doctor said was that I'm overweight and it adds stress to the muscles ; that might be it, the combination of me being overweight (+40 pounds), my age (over 45) and maybe the increased damage to my lungs over the years due to my asthma and bronchitis.

I can still remember when it started 4 years ago; it started with cramps in my back (behind the lungs). That wasn't as bad as when it started cramping around my rib cage. At times it feels like there is a giant who is crushing me in his hands ; almost to the point where I think it might fracture or break my ribs.

These spells can start on there own, but usually it seems when I'm bending in an odd position or twisting my body. For example; when I pull my car out of the driveway, I twist to see if there is anything behind me and that usually triggers the cramping session.

The cramping usually lasts only a few minutes but sometimes I have it last for more than 10 minutes and at times switching between the right side and my left side -- which makes me squiggle to try and find some relief, which makes me think about the original post of being like a fish out of water. Very good visual as to what I end up looking like too.


Ninee - January 22

I grew up (in the 50s and 60s) with my Dad always walking during the night with leg and feet cramps (charlie horses).

I was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in March 2006. I had radiation treatments from May thru November 2006. Then I had chemotherapy from November 2006 thru March 2007.

Not long after I finished the chemo, I noticed my feet. They were pretty much numb and felt like clubs. My oncologist said it was a side effect of the chemo and would probably go away. That numbness has climbed up almost to my knees but not as bad as my feet.

I have always had charlie horses in my feet but over the last few years, I get these 'charlie horses' in my back, especially the left side like over my kidney. Sometimes it hits so hard, it takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. I get cramps everywhere in my body. Under my breasts, in my collar bone, my neck, my arms, hands, and fingers, oh boy they take on wierd shapes. I get them in my hips, thighs, calves, ankles and feet. I also get them in my stomach, both sides, top and bottom.

My regular doctor has given me a muscle relaxent to take when I can't sleep because of the cramps. It really doesn't do anything. I see her again in a few weeks and I'm going to talk to her about this issue.

Does anyone else have these cramps over the whole body?


January - January 23

Sometimes muscle cramps can be caused by a lack of certain minerals in the body, and can be helped by supplementation with the mineral you are low on. Maybe you could ask your doctor to test your levels. Some doctors don't "believe" in this, but if you google, you can find information. Sometimes it's low potassium, low magnesium, low sodium (salt)…

If you take an antidepressant, a diuretic, a laxative, or any number of other drugs, you might have a problem with a lack of minerals. For example, Prozac can cause low potassium. Lots of drugs cause problems with mineral levels (electrolytes). You might want to read up on the chemo drugs you were taking - and anything you are taking now - to see if they deplete minerals in your body. A good pharmacist could probably help you on this. Try asking your doctor too - especially if you can print off something from the internet that says the drug you're taking causes something like hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or "hypo-" anything else. Though it sounds like your doctor just did the usual thing - throw a drug at you to treat the symptom without determining the CAUSE of the symptom first! If your doctor says it's OK, you might want to try a combination vitamin/mineral supplement every day. Our food supply is just not as good as it used to be, and most of us need some supplementation.

Every body is different. I found that a small dose of potassium helped the cramps in my legs. A lot of people say magnesium helps them, but magnesium is not well absorbed by the gut. My pharmacist told me doctors usually prescribe magnesium oxide for patients - but when we checked online, it was NOT the best absorbed. She was surprised. A magnesium chelate will be better, something like magnesium glycinate or magnesium threonate - but check with your doctor and pharmacist, and start with small doses to see how supplementation affects you.


weemama - January 29

I also get severe pain in my left side of ribcage that leads to my sternum. my left arm also hurts...i should say aches at this is extremely cold where i live right now, so for days the pain doesn't let up. Some days I just want to stay in bed. I too am scared that it is my heart and have been to emergency a few times. We had one nice day here, and I thought I was in heaven..not a pain was felt until that night when the temp dropped again. I am so looking forward to spring...I wish there was something I could take that would help relieve the pain but so far everything I have tried just doesn't like me. But I am not broken yet, just cracked a little. I guess I just think that things could be worse.


Sonja44 - March 12

I am currently recouping from horrible rib pain. I describe it as feeling like a cattle prod touching raw nerves. Very sharp, electrical, intense pain that makes my whole body jerk from the severity of each "zap" of pain.

I'm totally worn out from a week long struggle to gets the pain under control. My glands are swollen and tender and now I'm having intestinal pain which causes me to double over.

Because I'm very sensitive to medication...treating my pain is a challenge. I feel like screaming...but I don't have the energy to do so.

Im glad for a place to vent...but it makes me sad to know everyone here has to deal with crap like this too. Here's to belonging to a club...if given the choice...none of us would belong to.


velvet - August 20

i have been getting severe muscle spasms in my rib cage usually on the right side but today at work i had them on both sides so severe i had to leave work early but had to wait in the parking lot almost a half hr before it passed enough for me to drive home .these have been happening for many yrs now .I find cold water seems to trigger them and i usually try to avoid it but was very dry today and had just a half a glass and was in agony for over a half hr before it finally passed .I went to outpatients at our local hospital yrs ago and the dr on call said she didnm`t know what caused muscle spasms and gave me no advice and sent me home .I have learned that if i can get to the freezer and get an ice pack or bag of frozen peas and put it on my ribs it seems to ease the spasm .Shoule i try seeing my family dr to see if he has any advice for me ?


January - August 22

Hi Velvet -- It probably would be a good idea to check with your doctor, just to make sure nothing serious is going on. I haven't had issues around my ribcage - but I have seen a number of posts here describing the same thing. I guess it just comes with a certain type of fibro for some people.

Have you tried a heating pad to see if it would help? Also, have you tried taking a multimineral supplement? (Something like Solgar - the cheap stuff usually doesn't work well.) Potassium or magnesium might help. Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin, and you can get magnesium gel at a health food store. Potassium capsules come in doses of 99 mg. Don't take any more than that. Make sure you follow directions, and don't take too much of anything - please discuss it with your doctor first! Minerals can help with muscle cramps - and we just don't get enough in our food supply any more. I get terrible cramps in my calves -- when I forget to take my mineral supplements!


kristie m - September 9

Hi I know the pain all of you are experiencing. I have had it for at least 8 yrs.
It is called costochondritis. Look it up on Webmd or yahoo health or something.
I went to different doctors & ERs with this pain with no help until my family dr sent me to a gastroendocrinologist. He pressed on my sternum & almost brought me off the table in severe pain. He said this is not a gastro issue, it is an inflammation of the cartilage around your rib cage. Celebrex helps but causes other health issues for some. Acupuncture helps keep it under control. You cannot lift more than 10lb. no pushing or pulling or twisting. The worst thing I have found is pulling the wet laundry from the washer into the dryer.
Hope this helps!
PS There is also a similar inflammation that occurs with an infection, & it is called pleurisy. It is on the inside lining of the rib cage vs the outside, which is costochondritis.


conniehurts - April 21

I have a constant pain around my rib cage which of course drs wont even address. It feels like a tight band all the time and sharp centralized pain at other times. I am beginning to believe this is just one more of the wonderful effects of having severe fibromyalgia. What I wouldn't give for just 1 day pain free! I take a pharmacy full of drugs including strong pain killers. You would think that I wouldn't feel any pain, anywhere, anytime but I have constant pain. At least the drugs keep it , for the most part, bearable. Any "extra" pain of course the pain killers don't touch! Peace


mamwhotwikigh79 - May 22

Exactly. As well now under left breast



You must log in to reply.

Are you New to the forum? Sign Up Here! Already a member? Please login below.

Forgot your password?
Need Help?