What are the symptoms of intercostal neuralgia?
The main symptom of intercostal neuralgia is pain in the rib cage area, often described as stabbing, sharp, spasm-like, tearing, tender, aching or gnawing. The pain may wrap around your chest or radiate from the back toward the front of your chest in a band-like pattern. Sometimes you may feel pain uniformly along the length of your ribs.
Intercostal neuralgia may occur in sporadic episodes of acute pain or it may be dull and constant. The pain of intercostal neuralgia may intensify with exertion. This includes activities such as lifting heavy objects, twisting or turning your torso, coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Intercostal neuralgia may involve other symptoms including:
Pain in your arm, shoulder or back
Restricted mobility of your shoulders or back
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
Intercostal neuralgia can cause severe, debilitating pain that makes it difficult to breathe. In addition, pain in the rib cage or chest area may be caused by a condition other than intercostal neuralgia that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. A heart attack is an example. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have unexplained, severe pain in your rib cage or any of the following symptoms:
Chest or rib pain, which may spread to the left arm, jaw, shoulder, or back
Chest pressure, cramping, tightness, or a tearing sensation in the chest
Coughing up yellow-green phlegm (mucus)
Heart palpitations or a fluttering feeling in the chest
Respiratory or breathing problems, such as severe shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or inability to take a full breath
Severe abdominal pain
Severe chest pain when breathing or coughing
Sudden confusion, dizziness, or change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
What is intercostal neuralgia?
Intercostal neuralgia is a rare condition that causes pain along the intercostal nerves. Intercostal nerves are located between your ribs. Ribs are long, slender bones that curve around your chest to create your rib cage. The top 10 ribs on both sides of your body attach to your thoracic (midback) spine and breastbone (sternum). The bottom two ribs attach to your spine, but not to your breastbo... Read more about intercostal neuralgiaintroduction
What causes intercostal neuralgia?
Intercostal neuralgia can be caused by a variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. This includes infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, and other abnormal processes. A common cause of intercostal neuralgia is surgery that involves the thoracic (chest) cavity. This type of surgery often requires spreading apart the ribs, which can damage the intercostal nerves.
How is intercostal neuralgia treated?
Intercostal neuralgia may resolve on its own or it may require treatment. Treatments include:
Intercostal nerve blocks, which are injections of a local anesthetic or a corticosteroid around the affected intercostal nerve
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Read more about intercostal neuralgiatreatments