Pain in both sides of rib cage upon waking up after sleeping

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New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/11/2013 6:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Both sides of my ribs hurt badly when I wake up from sleeping all night. It hurts so much I can't bare the pain & I have to get up out of bed. After a back injury several years ago (I had rod & screw placement, a burst fracture and fusion of L3) I did adapt to sleeping flat on my back, but I do make a conscious effort to change positions (sleep on side, sleep with head elevated), but that does not help, I still wake up with rib cage pain. After awhile of being up out of bed the rib pain subsides. Now, let me be clear, it is not back pain. The pain is on BOTH sides, the right and left side of my rib cage, under my arms, if you took your hand and placed it a couple inches below my arm pit, you would be in the area of the pain. I'm concerned it may be chest related. I am a smoker of many years. Cancer, Heart Arrhythmia and other issues run rampant in my family history. I don't understand what this could be. I have a feeling someone is going to say muscular, but I'm doubting that it is costochondritis as it's been persistent for a long time now and as I said it subsides awhile after getting up. I have mentioned it to my Dr. but I think I will start to be more aggressive in having her look into it. I'm just wondering if anyone knows what I could personally look into/suggest for testing.

Please help, thanks so much.

Elite Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25347
   Posted 6/11/2013 7:03 AM (GMT -7)   
welcome to HW CP,

Sorry you need to be here, but glad you found us.

Sounds like a very painful situation.

You need to get more intense with your doctor, as you know, you have to be your own best patient advocate. Stress the pain level. If nothing else, perhaps he can start referring you to specialists that can get to the bottom of whatever is going on.

Hope you get some answers soon, and some relief.

Please keep us posted, and if you need to vent, we can take it! It feels good if you are having a bad day.

My best,

Age: 60, 56 at PC dx, PSA 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/8 7 of 7 Positive, 40-90%, 4+3
open RP: 11/8, Catheter in 63 days
Path Rpt: 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% tumor, 1 pos margin
Incontinence & ED: None
Surgery Failed, recurrence within 9 months
Salvage Radiation 10/9-11/9, SRT failed within 9 months, PSA 12/12 = 40.x
Spent total of 1 ½ years on 21 catheters, Ileal Conduit Surgery 9/10,
7 other PC-related surgeries 2009-2012
Severe Chronic Pain, Severe Fatigue, & Urostomy
Member of Prostate Cancer & Chronic Pain HW Communities since 10/2008
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Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15543
   Posted 6/11/2013 7:43 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello & welcome to the chronic pain forum. Wow, what you are describing sounds awfully painful. I have no clue what this may be or even to make a suggestion other than getting in to see the dr ASAP & have a heart to heart about problem. I would relay to the dr exactly what you have written here.

Please come back & let us know what the dr thinks is going on. Take care.....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

Forum Moderator

Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 4450
   Posted 6/11/2013 3:53 PM (GMT -7)   

Just saying hi and welcome to the forum. Sorry about the pain.

You should definitely let your doctor know how painful it is, so hopefully he can investigate and determine what it is.

Hope you fine out what's causing it.

Take Care

Chronic Pain, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 4961
   Posted 6/11/2013 9:00 PM (GMT -7)   

Just throwing this out there. Have you tried an ant acid? Sometimes reflux can can do this. The chewable ones seem to work fastest.
Take care,
Moderator: GERD/Heartburn
Nissen 6/06 and 5/09
#3 on 8/24/11

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 1037
   Posted 6/11/2013 11:47 PM (GMT -7)   
I have intercostal neuralgia. It is the inflammation of the nerves between the ribs. It is the most painful thing I have ever been through. Mine is only on one side and I cannot get up,move around and make the pain go away. I just thought I would mention it because it is very painful and in the same area.
30 female. Sherrie, 2007 UC, 5/13UCTD, Hypothyroidism, Intercostal Neuralgia, Agoraphobia, Bipolar tendencies, Panic disorder, Acid reflux, Lactose intolerance, Eczema, Migraines, Degenerative disk, Hypertension, and Anemia.
Plaquenil, Lialda, Canasa, Hyoscyamine sulfa, digestive ad lactose defense, Cymbalta, Lyrica, Lomotil , klor-con20, VSL 3DS, Rainbow light, Vit D, started Humira 12/31

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/12/2013 9:37 PM (GMT -7)   
Are these replies from the moderators automatic? Thanks Teddtlove I'll look into intercostal neuralgia. I don't know what else it could be. It's horrible pain on both side of my ribs! Makes no sense to me. :\

Barbara Lee
Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2003
Total Posts : 2889
   Posted 6/12/2013 9:49 PM (GMT -7)   
K3LLY, welcome to the CP forum so sorry that you are haing so much pain though.

Moderators do their own posts, they are not automatic ones. I have lupus really bad and suffer with pleurisy chronically. I also get pleural effusions often too. Both of these conditions can cause terrible pain in the chest and ribs.

Is the pain getting worse than before? Does it hurt worse when you are laying down? Are you having any difficulty with your breathing? If you are having ANY of these things I would suggest you be seen in the ER. Not trying to scare you, but you just don't want to take any chances.

I hope our Dr can figure this out ASAP, and they can get you some much needed pain relief. I'll keep you in my prayers and please let us know how you are doing.

DX- RA, Lupus, Fibro, LGL Leukemia, Pulmonary Hypertension, Bells Palsy, Gastroparsis, Blood Clots, Cateracts, Glaucoma, Chronic Pericarditis & Pleurisy, Severe Anemia. Way to many medications to list.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15543
   Posted 6/13/2013 8:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi K3lly, to answer your question about mod's replies being automatic, no, we each do our own posting here at the forum.....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/1/2013 1:54 PM (GMT -7)   
I just started experiencing the same symptoms a couple of weeks ago. You have Ankylosing Spondylitis. The good news is that most of the inflammation is caused by food allergies, and that you can become pain free by going on a No Starch Diet and a few other modifications.

Definitely go see your physician but here is my story and how I stopped the back and rib pain:

The key components that worked for me are:

1. Sleeping and resting on a layer of Memory Foam over a hard surface.
2. A strict No Starch Diet (a low starch diet did not work for me).
3. Stopping all medications like Advil and Tylenol that test starch positive.
4. Heat Packs, such as ThermaCare HeatWraps, to relieve the pain.

I initially started taking Tylenol and Advil, which would relieve the pain for several hours, but worsen the flare after the effects wore off. Same for Prednisone 5 mg daily, which I started myself on the third day after I started waking up in the middle of the night with excruciating low back pain and bilateral rib pain, with severe crippling upper and lower back pain during the day that was an 8 or 9 on a pain scale of 10.

As some of you have found, prednisone douses the inflammation almost miraculously. I felt so good the next day I went to see a movie with minimal discomfort. Only problem is that it only lasted 25-26 hours, then it seemed to WORSEN MY SYMPTOMS. I took prednisone for 6 days so I could still continue to work. Then stopped prednisone and all other meds after I found they all tested positive for starch, using the iodine test.

I cold-turkey'ed all the other body-care products that had starch. I stopped using my Shesiedo skin care face moisturizing products, all makeup, and stopped using my shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. These all sadly tested starch positive. This may not really be necessary, but it is what I did to completely clear my system of starch.

My pain decreased by 40% off prednisone, Advil, and Tylenol, and I was able to work a full day using only wearable heat pads to my upper and low back.

But the kicker was when I switched from a low-starch diet to a completely pure No Starch Diet (NSD). The former was through ignorance; didn't start iodine testing for a couple of weeks.

4 hours after starting a NSD, I was completely pain free for the first time in 12 days!!! It really works. Please do try it. The incredibly fast response may have been because I had been off all medications and all body-care products since the day before.

Fasting will likely work, but I hate feeling hungry. So what I did is eat a pure meat and fish diet that my husband cooked using only using salt, and sometimes grapeseed oil.

The last 6 days since I first became pain free have been pure bliss. My pain has been minimal, from 0 to 1. And only worsens to a pain scale of 2 out of 10 when I eat something my body is allergic to, which for me I have found so far to be eggs, blueberry, crunchy melon, and figs. But the pain quickly resolves in less than 3 hours, as long as I go back to eating just my safe foods, which I now just use my body's response to test.

Foods that seem to douse the inflammation, so that my back feels almost completely normal, are Hershey's 1.55 oz. Milk Chocolate bars (they are gluten free), cantaloupe, and Trader Joe's organic Plain Yogurt. Not sure if it is just one or if all 3 have that effect; will try to parse it out over the next few days.

The other significant component to my healing has been lying down on a firm surface covered by a layer of 1-1/2 inch memory foam (only $27 for a full size at Wal-Mart). For me, that hard surface has been my hard, armless, cushion-less couch. As soon as I started sleeping on this, it was like sleeping in heaven. No more waking up 4 hours later with excruciating low back pain and scary bilateral rib pain.

Resting on this is truly healing for me, I believe not just from the cushioning but also from the warmth the memory foam provides. Whenever I have back pain, I lie down and rest. The pain almost immediately goes away, and when I get up 1/2 hour or 1 hour later, it is minimal or completely gone. Better than Tylenol or Advil--the same effect without the afterward worsening of the inflammatory symptoms.

As an interim, until you can get a good Tempurpedic or Sleep Number mattress, I would suggest removing the cushions on your sofa, applying two 1-1/2 inch layers of Memory Foam, and sleeping on that. Or simply using two layers of Memory Foam on the floor. You will immediately know if this works for you.

Also, I've made up Memory Foam cushions for my carseat and work chairs, which helps alleviate the pain by a huge factor and allows me to function almost normally. Before doing this, and getting the flare under control, driving that 1 hour to work and then back was sheer agony.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 1113
   Posted 9/1/2013 3:31 PM (GMT -7)   
Definitely get it checked out.

I've had costo for years, and it is not getting any better. I get steroid injections down the sternum to help with expanding the ribcage. I splint when I breathe due to the pain in the ribs. While inpatient, we realized I splint even in my sleep and my O2 levels are often up and down.

Just wanted to let you know that, while for most, costochondritis is not very serious, it can become a pretty big health issue.

I hope you can find some sort of pain relief.
Single mom to my little man (9yrs old)
36yrs old. JRA since a kid. Chronic Uveitis, pleurisy, pericarditis, intersticial lung disease, sjorgrens syndrome, Cushing's Syndrome, gastroparisis
Bilateral TMJ replacements due to bone fusion, port-a-cath, NJ tube

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/16/2013 10:11 AM (GMT -7)   
I am having the same symptoms. The rib pain mainly comes after about 5-6 hours of sleep. There is no pain if I press on my actual ribs or surrounding tissue. It does seem to emanate from my right side at a spot just under the ribcage, but that comes and goes. Laying on top of pillows eases the pain slightly, but the pain will subside almost immediately upon getting out of the bed. Occasionally there will be a "flutter" in the spot under my right ribcage after getting up, but it's intermittent. The pain encircles my ribcage with most pain on the bottom "edges"of the ribs. There is no pain in my sternum, no pain when I breathe. I've seen all of the suggestions of costochondritis, gall bladder, GERD, etc. but none really fit my symptoms. This came on suddenly this past February and I originally thought it was due to some kind of strain after working in the garden, but the pain really only comes after about 5 hours of lying in the bed, not during the day when I'm up and walking around. The only difference since February is the magnitude of the pain, it has never stopped. For a person who LOVES to sleep, this is some kind of cruel irony.

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 9/20/2013 5:41 PM (GMT -7)   

I have the exact same problem.  It started 7 days after hernia surgery.  I sat up in bed to stand and when I moved my left arm forward I felt a very sharp pain about 4 inches below my arm pit.  The pain seems to be getting more intense daily.  After about 4 days of pain on my left, I started having the same problems on my right side.  The pain has been with me for a little over a week.  Like you, very intense when I first get up and gradually don't feel it at all the remainder of the day.  Unless, which I just discovered today, when riding my 4X4 ATV I feel the sharp pain on both side with every quick bump on the trail.  I'm also noticing it in my car if I go over a good bump.  Ouch!  Any help would be greatly appreciated.



New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 9/21/2013 7:41 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi K3elly :)

I know EXACTLY how you're feeling. In fact, I just now joined this site cuz I woke up with the same pain in my ribs I've been experiencing for about a year now. I finally decided to Google it and see what I could find out. It's so frustrating to wake up even halfway through the night and feel like this.

Anyways, what I've found (so far) is your description of what's been going on with you, and I gotta say I was relieved to find out that I'm not the only one.

After reading all the above responses, I noticed that a lot of ppl don't seem to understand that the pain does NOT bother you all day long (neither does mine), and it goes away soon after getting out of bed (so does mine, after about a half hour). I imagine yours (like mine) will go away even faster if you take a nice, hot shower right when you wake up..? Mine does, but most mornings I just simply don't feel like getting wet the instant I wake up, so I deal with the pain for that whole whopping half hour or so lol. The frustrating part is waking up with it in the middle of the night...every night...and then again in the morning...every morning. Not to mention endlessly trying to find a comfortable position all night long once the pain starts...about 4-5 hours into sleeping.

Now.. I haven't gotten to do very much research just yet. And.. I don't know how old you are. But.. being 43 myself, I'll bet mine is being caused by arthritis and sleeping on a waterbed (not enough support). It's a soft-sided bed (looks like a regular mattress), and I have a couple of blankets plus a really high-quality memory foam thingy on it (all for more stability), but I'd be willing to bet money that if I go talk to 2 or 3 mattress places, they'll tell me that as we get older, we all need more support when we sleep.

Which means I probably simply need a new mattress. And maybe you do, too..?

And if I do have some arthritis in my ribs (very possible cuz I had both of my knees replaced last year due to severe arthritis, plus arthritis starting in my big toe), a simple x-ray can let me know for sure.

I really wouldn't worry too much about it being anything major going on. Ask your doc for a quick x-ray and maybe stop by some mattress stores to see what they have to say. I'm sure there are foods that can help calm down arthritis and help you sleep better, but you can visit that aspect once you find out if it really is arthritis bothering you. For me, I think I'll take an Ibuprofen or two before bed, and a little more with my morning meds.

A few last things to think about.. if you do end up getting a firmer mattress, I've heard they take some getting used to. Also, if your pain is really being caused by arthritis, try using a memory foam topper on the mattress. It'll not only cushion you a bit while still getting the benefits of a firmer mattress, but it might give you the slight warmth your ribs need to keep inflammation down. There are also heated mattress pads out there (Sunbeam, etc) husband has a bad back, and he loves those. The queen size ones come with a control for each side, so I don't roast if I don't want to lol.

Good luck! :))

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 9/21/2013 10:14 AM (GMT -7)   
Terilee, I took your replay as also going to me. I don't seem to have any pain while in bed. It occurs when I sit up and start moving my arms. I can lift my shoulders and no pain but as soon as I move the forearm forward, OUCH!. Pain is gone after about 30 min. I keep my sleep to around 5-6 hrs max to avoid back pain. Yes, I think you're right about needing a new bed. This one is about 19 yrs old.

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 9/27/2013 6:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Seems to me these pains are mostly just caused by needing a new bed/mattress. Pressure points, getting older, arthritis, weight changes, muscles maybe not as strong/supportive as they once were...all these things can contribute to either subtle or severe aches/pains. Especially after sleeping because nothing is moving very much (if at all) for hours. Even if I merely sit for awhile, I've noticed it takes me a few steps across the room until the muscles on my sides, just below my waist (gluteus medius muscles), to 'get into gear'. Especially the right one cuz I injured it earlier this year. It'll probably always give me problems now.

My husband and I did end up going to a few mattress stores last weekend. We both found that there was one mattress we really like a lot. It's a memory foam mattress...'Radiance' was the model name, but I can't remember the manufacturer right now. Once we can afford it, I'm sure it'll make a huge difference in how we both feel in the morning. We currently have a soft-sided waterbed, and I think I definitely need the cushion a foam mattress has but a lot more support than a waterbed can provide. I'm a side-sleeper, so all I seem to be doing is stretching out my rib area each night. Come morning, I hurt a lot.

Til then, I've decided to take some ibuprofen before bed and again with my morning meds (which are about an hour before I get up). That's made a big difference so far. Barely any pain in the mornings now. Confirms for me that I have some sort of inflammation going on...probably arthritis. Ah, such is life :)

And yes, 19 yrs old...definitely time to check out some new beds. Maybe not a box spring, but at least the mattress.

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/15/2013 7:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Guys

I have had the same problem for the last four years in both sides under my ribcage and it does not go away. Some nights no pain other nights lots. As previous people have said this goes away from i wake up to within about 30 minutes.

I have tried different beds, mattresses, the lot, but still am suffering from this. The Doctor does not know what is causing this as when i go there the pain is gone so all i am doing is explaining the symptoms.

I would like to get to the bottom of this any suggestions would be most welcome.

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/28/2013 4:18 PM (GMT -7)   
To Terrilee29....I have had this same exact experience. Wondering if you found out what it was. I had x-rays and there was nothing they could see.(I had fallen around the time it started but I think the pain started before hand so just to rule out did x-rays and because I told my Dr I fell I don't think he thouht it could be anything else,) But, yes it is hard to describe because it is strange that the pain is only really bad when I wake up or even when I wake up int he middle of the night. Very hard to move and get comfortable. Then after I shower and start moving around it goes away and i can get on with my day. Thinking it is arthritus.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 12/15/2013 8:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Ironically enough I'm googling these same symptoms months later and came across this thread and completely forgot I had made it!

I woke up this morning and I'm in a tremendous amount of pain. I'm only 31 years old and I can tell you I've been through my fair share of injuries and pain already, but this is agony!

I have a whole house to clean to prepare for house guests and I'm just sitting here trying to "stretch" my rib area to no avail. :(

When I first wake up the first thing that comes to mind is "Ugh my kidneys hurt". I had originally thought maybe it was related to sleeping so long without urinating, because as stated above it usually goes away shortly after getting up and moving around. This morning that is not the case, I've been up for two hours now. It's raining out today, I do notice more bone pain when it rains, but not so much this rib pain.

I totally feel your pain in regards to not being able to sleep through the night without waking up like "Ugh". That achy, deep pain, there's nothing else like it and it's very uncomfortable. Anyway, I keep reading "Lupus". That would be an unfortunate prognosis.

I feel like I have some serious muscular or kidney disease going on here. I hope not. Sending positive vibes to all those who experience pain like it or pain in general. I feel for you!

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 12/15/2013 8:58 AM (GMT -7)   
Also in regards to bed, because I have degenerative disc disease and undiagnosed lower back issues for years (Since I was quite young) I bought a special bed years ago. I can tell the difference when I sleep on a bed that's not appropriate firmness/softness, my entire body will hurt upon waking up! But again, this I'm not sure is related to that. Though it is possible. This morning I've rolled on a soft roller thing, stretched, tried "jogging" in place to rid myself of it (lol), and now I've just gave in and took two ibuprofen, hopefully that will help.

spinal soldier
Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 687
   Posted 12/17/2013 1:07 PM (GMT -7)   
not something to take lightly, just a thought, could you be dehydrated and or electrolyte depleted. potassium, calcium, magnesium, ect. if you drink coffee it has a magnesium depleting effect and diuretics: HCTZ, furosimide, ect. just a thought. best wishes to you. NICK

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3677
   Posted 12/17/2013 3:30 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi K3LLY you mentioned that you slept with your head of the bed elevated  and you have had degenerative disc disease for a long time, have you  thought that this pain your experiencing when waking up is caused by that? I mean, do  you have any  problems with DDD in your thoracic discs?  . The reason I ask is,  I have many problems with my thoracic discs along with all my other discs, and I often experience the pain  that your describing as I have bone spurs and herniated and torn disc in the thoracic area. I cannot lay flat or lay on my sides for more than just fifteen or twenty minutes  at a time because of the rib pain, so I sleep in a fowlers position, kind of like a reclining position in a recliner. In fact I slept in a recliner for more than ten years because of this,  until I got an adjustable bed, which  made a huge difference, as now  I can tweak the adjustments of the bed when ever I get uncomfortable.  Anyway, that is how DDD of thoracic discs affects me, so it might be something to consider???.
Good Luck to you and it is nice to see that you have come back to the forum!
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
I retired from the USAF, in Sept, 1991. I went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, I worked on Oncology and Med Surg , I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002! Diagnosed with: DDD, herniated Disk at T12, L3/4; C3/4 Posterior Articular Joint fusion Nov 2010; C5/6 ACDF Sep 2009; C6/7 ACDF Mar 1985; Ulcerative colitis; Chronic Pain; Complex Sleep Apnea; and host of other things! I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Post Edited (White Beard) : 12/17/2013 3:34:52 PM (GMT-7)

Angeles Mizilla
New Member

Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/1/2014 4:28 PM (GMT -7)   
I am having these same terrible pains. It has gone on for the last week, one night I won't have any pain, the next night, it is unbearable. I have tried sleeping in the recliner and on the couch. The couch gives the same issue, the recliner does not, but it does not allow the same kind of deep restful sleep for me as the bed typically does.
The same is true the moment hot water hits me, the spasm like pain stops... or about a half an hour to an hour after getting up and moving around.
I have a brother who has dealt with the same pain for years. he was told his was due to dehydration. I do know I have been lack on my intake lately. I have also been suggested by a dear friend who is a coach to increase my potassium intake... I have just started trying these things today, so we shall see...
I would like to be able to manage this myself- and not have the expense of dr's and testing... but IM afraid if it doesn't start to let up soon- that is exactly where it will lead.
I wish you all the best.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15543
   Posted 1/3/2014 2:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Angeles & welcome to the forum. Angeles, we ask all new members to make their own intro post so that all members will see if & be able to respond & give you a proper hello & welcome aboard. By posting on someone else's thread not many people will see this.

We look forward to getting to know you.

Moderator for Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums
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