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"It hurts when I breathe and no one can tell me why. What is wrong with me?"

ZocdocAnswersIt hurts when I breathe and no one can tell me why. What is wrong with me?


I have always had trouble breathing, especially when in an upright position, and no one can tell me why. My PFT shows slightly diminished volume, as well as 60% diffusion, but nothing anyone worried about apparently. It hurts when I breathe, in my whole torso up to my neck, but my abdomen is particularly painful. Doctors thought it could be acid reflux, but for years it hasn't changed no matter how I change my diet or what acid reflux medications they put me on. But recently I noticed that when I exhale, my rib cages come together and press into each other. They make contact from my solar plexus to about 4" down. Is this normal that they should push into each other and hurt like this?? The whole area around it has always been especially tender. In certain positions the left one will slightly overlap the right, even. Please help :( Anything is greatly appreciated! Thanks


So sorry to hear about this difficult problem. I recommend that you discuss your question further with your doctor. While there are a number of different possibilities for what you are experiencing, one thing that is quite common is a condition known as costochondritis. The rib cage is made of numerous joints, where each rib connects into the sternum and again in the back where they meet in with the spine. Just like any joint, these joints, although less mobile than other joints, can become inflamed and irritated, resulting in swelling and pain with movement. This can happen even with such simple movements as breathing, which can result in clicking and cracking with any breath or torsion around the spine. Fortunately, conservative treatment sometimes including over the counter analgesia and anti-inflammatory medications can often be helpful. If your doctors are not concerned about this and they are also not concerned about reflux, it will be important to keep discussing your problem with your doctor to get the answers that you need. You may need to work with a specialist, and may need to have some imaging or other testing done. You will need to describe the quality of the pain clearly as well. Again, please speak with your doctor about this question.

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