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Rib cage pain and sneezing

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I sneezed this morning and it felt like I broke a rib in my lower left side. Now it feels like I have a bubble just below my left side rib cage and when I sneeze it feels like something digging in and I have a great deal of pain. what happened ?


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replied January 4th, 2010
General Q and A Answer A8855
Hi and welcome to the forum! I am glad to help you.

You would like to know the cause of the pain that you experience in the left side of your rib cage when you sneeze.

In conditions like sneezing and coughing the pressure in the abdominal cavity becomes higher than the pressure in the rib cage and causes the diaphragm to contract and to expel the air from the lungs through the throat(coughing) and through the nose(sneezing). The process of sneezing and coughing is also helped by the contraction of the intercostal muscles. Pain may sometimes be experienced due to over activity of the intercostal muscles or the diaphragm. Spleen ruptures are not common during these processes, but are more common during a physical exam of the abdomen and are characterized by sudden hypovolemic shock-like symptoms. Rib fractures during sneezing and coughing are not common either because for them a lot more force is needed.

Given the symptoms that you described, it is not likely that you have experienced a rib fracture. If there was a possible rib fracture, the individual would feel the pain constantly and the pain might affect the breathing. See your doctor to rule out or confirm any other condition like rib fracture.

Please keep in mind that I provide medical information only. I am not able to diagnose medical conditions online. Please contact your doctor for further advice and information about diagnosis and treatment options.


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