ZocdocAnswersMy joints are cracking where the ribs meet.Is there something wrong?

Question

My joints are cracking where the ribs meet.Is there something wrong?

For a few years I have been able to crack the joint between my ribs by arcing my back. Lately it has become more common. Because if it feels tight then I crack it. So the tightness has become more frequent. But today I did it and it was two cracks one normal to what I'm used to and a surprise second that was very large. About 7 hours after I had a pain in my chest and made it irritable to breath. As the day progressed the pain in the chest has gone. But the joint has been tender and cracking much easier than before. Is this a problem?

Answer

Pain and cracking of the joints is a common medical complaint. I would recommend being seen in person by a doctor to evaluate your symptoms at which time you may want to consider discussing the following conditions. One cause of pain and cracking of the chest joints is something called costochondritis. This condition involves inflammation of the joint area where your ribs come in contact with your breastbone or sternum. The condition can be relieved by over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or tylenol and does not usually result in long-term damage to the body. However, it is important to realize that pain in the joints can be a sign of an underlying process leading to systemic inflammation. Some of these conditions can be serious and require further evaluation by a medical professional. As with any kind of chest pain, it is important to receive a thorough cardiac evaluation to make sure the pain you are experiencing is not related to your heart. Other causes include arthritis, stress fractures and musculoskeletal pain. Your condition can only be diagnosed by seeing a doctor in person. I would recommend seeing a primary care doctor or a rheumatologist for further evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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