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Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Sharp Jabbing Pains


 Zena - Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:11 pm

I've been experiencing numerous sharp, jabbing pains in the lower left side of my chest, directly on the lowest rib (below the breast). Sometimes, the discomfort seems to travel further left in the rib area. Any idea what might be causing it? I do NOT have any pain in the left arm, neck, jaw, center of the chest, etc. Although I used to get these sensations once in a while, lately the "pains" seem to be occurring much more frequently. Not really knowing where to start, I got a referral from my general physician to see a cardiologist. Any chance that it could be from a bruised rib? I am a 52 yr. old female.
 Zena - Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:33 pm

Additional Info.: I just had an annual exam and everything was normal: B.P., cholesterol, blood, heart sounded really strong, etc. I was pronounced in really good health for someone my age. NO breathing problems, coughing, wheezing, viral infections, etc. My mammogram results were normal as well. Just a sharp, jabbing pain that seems to start from one location at the bottom of the lowest rib on the left side of my chest. I first noticed this happening about 6 yrs. ago. Since then, it has occurred only once in a great while. Recently, however, it seems to be happening almost all the time. I am not taking any medication at the present time.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:51 pm

User avatar Hello Zena: While your rib pain is certainly far from typical for any sort of cardiac problem, pain is still uncomfortable at best, and serves the purpose of letting us know something needs attention. You don't mention any other potentially cardiac-related symptoms, While a visit to a cardiologist will probably bring you some much-needed peace of mind where the heart is concerned, the cause of the pain in the left lower ribs may well go unresolved.

Usually this sort of pain is caused by costrochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs, and can be recurrent, chronic, and intermittent, as you have described. It often responds to an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesic (ie: ibuprofen or naproxyn). This sort of pain can be caused or aggravated by certain maneuvers we perform unconsciously (such as lifting a small child) or can sometimes have no clear cause. A bruised rib would have resolved long before now, but in inflammation of the connective tissue between the ribs can come back again and again. It can be quite annoying at times. There are also other structures withing the chest and abdomen, especially in that area, which can refer pain, as the splanchnic flexure of the colon is located nearby, and accumulation of air in that organ sometimes gets trapped at that point, causing pain the the upper left quadrant, lower ribs, beneath the left breast or even up into the shoulder.

In short your problem seems most likely a chronic irritation of the material between those lower left ribs, and is usually quite benign. If you have any doubts or it becomes intolerable, you will need to bring it urgently to the attention of your doctor, who would likely recommend an anti-inflammatory agent to manage it.
 Zena - Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:25 pm

For AJCalhoun: I have recently read about the same maladies you described. They sound like solid possibilities that might well explain the source of my chest pain. Of course, I will still keep my app't. with the cardiologist, to rule out heart trouble. Thank you for taking the time to provide this information. Merry Xmas!

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