Why Do My Ribs Hurt When I Wake Up?

Why Do My Ribs Hurt When I Wake Up?

Ahhh, sleep — it’s the best thing — unless you wake in the morning with severe pain in your ribs. Morning pain in the ribcage can make it difficult for you to get up. As you take your first step, your chest and ribs ache so much that you want to crawl back into your bed right away. You must be wondering, why do my ribs hurt when I wake up?

Sometimes the pain goes away in a few hours. And other times, you face severe pain all day making it difficult for you to continue with your routine work. 

The pain in your ribs shouldn’t be ignored at any cost. We will look at the common causes of pain in the ribcage. And we will also discuss some possible treatments for rib cage pain.

Wondering how many ribs are in the human body?

Why Does my Ribcage Hurt in the Morning?

Rib cage pain can be scary. It can be sharp, dull, or achy — can be felt in the chest, below the chest area, or right above the belly button.

It can occur due to unexplained injury to the ribs. The possible causes can range from conditions that are primarily nuisance like sleeping funny to those that are life-threatening such as lung cancer. 

The pain in the ribs can also result from vigorous exercise or heavy lifting. Another possible cause is costochondritis which is an inflammation of cartilage joints joining the ribs to the breastbone. If your ribs hurt because of an injury, that wasn’t your fault, the best thing you can do is hire a personal injury lawyer.

Pain in the ribs can also be caused by problems with your gut. 

The pain could last a few hours up to an entire day. The pain subsides eventually if there’s nothing serious.

However, if you are continuously experiencing pain in your rib cage for quite a while, you must consult a doctor who can confirm the diagnosis. 

Possible Causes of Pain in Ribs

There are many potential causes of pain in the rib cage. A history and physical exam can help you determine the exact cause of the pain in your rib cage. 

Common causes of rib cage pain include:


Ribs perform an important function: it protects your heart, lungs, and other vital organs. This also means they take the brunt of the damage in cause of trauma such as accident, physical assault, fall, sports-related injuries, or even intense coughing. The common type of rib injuries include-

  • Bruising 
  • Broken ribs
  • Fractured ribs
  • Pulled muscle

You may need to visit a doctor who may order an X-Ray scan to see if you have any injury on the ribs. MRIs and other scans can also help to detect any tissue damage.


You may or may not hear of this condition, but costochondritis or Tritze’s syndrome is a common cause of rib cage pain. The area where the breastbone meets the ribs, called costosternal joint, can become inflamed. 

The pain in the ribs due to costochondritis can be from mild to severe. The symptoms of the pain include tenderness and pain when touching the chest area. It may result from heavy lifting, exercise, blow to the chest, coughing, and sneezing.

Your doctor may order an electrocardiogram to rule out costochondritis. However, if you are diagnosed with costochondritis, it may take a few days for you to recover from it completely.

To reduce the pain you can do stretching exercises, take pain killers, or put up a heating pad over your chest a few times a day.


Lining inside your chest cavity and the outside of your lungs could get inflamed  — the condition is called Pleurisy. In a normal state, the lining smoothly slides over one another. However, the inflammation causes them to rub that resulting in severe pain. 

Your doctor may order some blood tests to rule out Pleurisy. The condition usually resolves on its own in about 2 weeks. 

Lung Cancer

One of the main symptoms of lung cancer is uncontrollable pain in the rib cage or chest area that gets even worse with sneezing or coughing. Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancer and it is the number one cause of cancer death.

Lung cancer usually begins in one area and usually spreads to the entire lungs and this is what makes it a life-threatening condition. Other symptoms to watch for lung cancer are shortness of breath, coughing up blood, or wheezing.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain that affects the whole body. 2 to 4 percent of people are estimated to be affected by the condition and most commonly it affects women. 

You may experience burning, aching, throbbing, or stabbing in your chest if you are suffering from Fibromyalgia pain. If the pain increases, you might even need to get hospitalized. 

What Are the Common Causes of Rib Pain?

Rib pain usually occurs in the chest, below the chest, or above the belly button. Depending upon the cause, the various symptoms of rib pain include-

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain with deep breaths
  • Bruising
  • Difficult in sleeping
  • Pain with certain movements

The pain can have varying characteristics including:

  • Acute
  • Sudden
  • Persistent
  • Mild or severe
  • Sharp
  • Dull

How to Treat Rib Pain At Home?

Some causes of ribcage pain can be treated at home in the following ways-

Pain Relievers- It is the rib cage pain is due to muscle strain or inflammation, some over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin or Advil can give you reduce the pain.

Rest- Rest can also help reduce the pain to a great extent. Refrain from physical activities to reduce the pain.

When to See a Doctor?

The urgency with which you need to seek professional medical assistance depends upon various factors such as longevity, symptoms, and severity of the pain. Make an appointment with a doctor when you experience:

  • Persistent pain
  • Severe rib pain
  • Pain that gets worse when you wake up in the morning
  • Pain that is accompanied by weight loss or decreased appetite
  • High fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness in your arms or legs

Ribcage pain can be due to a number of causes ranging from minor to serious conditions within or outside the chest. A diagnosis by a doctor can help you detect the underlying cause of the pain. Therefore, book an appointment with a doctor if the pain persists for more than 3 days. 

About the author

Johnny is dedicated to providing useful information on commonly asked questions on the internet. He is thankful for your support ♥

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