Rib cage tightness: Not sure what it might be

Posted by greekcan @greekcan, Jun 10 5:38pm

I am at wits end with this hugging tightness around my rib cage. Does any have any idea what might be causing this and who can help me. It started almost 4 years ago when I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. That got repaired but the squeezing tightness never went away. It will calm down at night but during day it start buy end of day it leaves me so uncomfortable and it’s gotten worse. Doctor I am seeing is ruling out MS. Thanks for reading my post.

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Hello @greekcan

I am sure that this tightness you are feeling is uncomfortable. I am glad to hear that your physician is in the process of ruling out MS as this type of tightness is a symptom of MS.

I see that your Hiatal hernia was repaired. Was this a surgical procedure? If so, do you recall the name of the procedure? You might consider talking to the surgeon who performed the surgery to see if he/she has any ideas as to what might be causing this type of discomfort.

There is another disorder that can cause this type of pain. It is referred to as Slipping Rib Syndrome (SRS). It is not a common diagnosis and some doctors miss the diagnosis completely. Here is a link to a conversation on Connect about SRS, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/slipping-rib-syndrome/. If you read the posts from other members it will help you understand the type of pain they experience with this problem.

I hope you are able to find answers to this discomfort. Will you post again and let me know how the process is going for you?

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Thank you for replying. It made me feel good knowing someone read my text. I thank you again and I will text you again as I know more. Yes I went to the surgeon he was a Bariatric surgeon who basically said he didn’t think it was caused by the surgery as he did a robotic procedure and tightening of the diaphragm. I will not give up until I get an answer. I’m only 65 and don’t want to live this way anymore. It has taken over my quality of life. Again thanks.

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@greekcan

Thank you for replying. It made me feel good knowing someone read my text. I thank you again and I will text you again as I know more. Yes I went to the surgeon he was a Bariatric surgeon who basically said he didn’t think it was caused by the surgery as he did a robotic procedure and tightening of the diaphragm. I will not give up until I get an answer. I’m only 65 and don’t want to live this way anymore. It has taken over my quality of life. Again thanks.

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Your symptoms sound very much like my husband’s situation. Two years ago he developed burning in his stomach and this feeling of tightening or muscle spasms in his stomach/chest area. An endoscopy showed an ulcerated area in his stomach from daily aspirin and evidence of a hiatal hernia.
His stomach has now healed. However the spasms, which felt like a band pulling around his ribs or a gripping feeling in his stomach area, persisted. They were relieved somewhat by taking FDgard. It’s an over the counter med recommended by his gastroenterologist. It’s safe to use as it’s basically oil of peppermint. It seems to be a common med suggested for people with a hiatal hernia.

Because the symptoms didn’t go away completely, his gastro-doctor also prescribed a very low dose of an anti-anxiety med, Zoloft. He’s not prone to anxiety but the med works as a relaxant for those muscles. 100mg of Zoloft brought significant relief. Added to that was 5mg morning and night of Buspirone. That was the winner long term. 100% of his symptoms are gone.
Although his doctors didn’t suspect a heart issue, prior to going on those meds, my husband had a calcium score test run and a physical to rule out any heart issues.
I hope this might help you or give you a direction to follow.
Have you had a physical to rule out any heart/lung involvement?

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I have this as well off and on, but pretty consistent the last 6 months. I wondered what it was! I appreciate the replies…Judi

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@loribmt

Your symptoms sound very much like my husband’s situation. Two years ago he developed burning in his stomach and this feeling of tightening or muscle spasms in his stomach/chest area. An endoscopy showed an ulcerated area in his stomach from daily aspirin and evidence of a hiatal hernia.
His stomach has now healed. However the spasms, which felt like a band pulling around his ribs or a gripping feeling in his stomach area, persisted. They were relieved somewhat by taking FDgard. It’s an over the counter med recommended by his gastroenterologist. It’s safe to use as it’s basically oil of peppermint. It seems to be a common med suggested for people with a hiatal hernia.

Because the symptoms didn’t go away completely, his gastro-doctor also prescribed a very low dose of an anti-anxiety med, Zoloft. He’s not prone to anxiety but the med works as a relaxant for those muscles. 100mg of Zoloft brought significant relief. Added to that was 5mg morning and night of Buspirone. That was the winner long term. 100% of his symptoms are gone.
Although his doctors didn’t suspect a heart issue, prior to going on those meds, my husband had a calcium score test run and a physical to rule out any heart issues.
I hope this might help you or give you a direction to follow.
Have you had a physical to rule out any heart/lung involvement?

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This is very helpful. Yes I had both the heart and lungs checked out. Now am being tested for MS but I don’t think that is it. I had one doctors say live with it but I can’t anymore I tried it is getting worse. The top of my stomach squeezes and hurts then it shifts onto my ribs. Another doctor told me it was my posture. It’s not at all. I’m in San Antonio and I’m very disappointed with the care. I had a hernia it bright it on the hernia was repaired but this didn’t go away. Thanks again. I’ll keep pushing the doctors.

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@greekcan

This is very helpful. Yes I had both the heart and lungs checked out. Now am being tested for MS but I don’t think that is it. I had one doctors say live with it but I can’t anymore I tried it is getting worse. The top of my stomach squeezes and hurts then it shifts onto my ribs. Another doctor told me it was my posture. It’s not at all. I’m in San Antonio and I’m very disappointed with the care. I had a hernia it bright it on the hernia was repaired but this didn’t go away. Thanks again. I’ll keep pushing the doctors.

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Keeping in mind I’m not a medical professional and can’t diagnose, but your symptoms, with your past experience with the hiatal hernia, sounds exactly like my husband’s experience. From his understanding, with talking to his doctors, this is not an uncommon symptom.
My husband’s gastroenterologist and his PCP both recommended what I’d talked about in my previous post. The FDgard, the Zoloft and Buspirone. The muscle spasms have stopped and he no longer lives with this constant gripping, disruptive, nagging pain. From our understanding it’s a serotonin related issue and that’s what the very low doses of the two meds take care of. Taking serotonin supplements is not recommended as a fine balance needs to be kept.

I’m so sorry your doctors aren’t listening to you. You might try the FDgard. This is a safe, over the counter product that’s basically Caraway and Oil of Peppermint in a capsule and that helped initially and for short periods of time when taken regularly. It’s not very expensive and usually at drug stores or amazon has it.

He was reticent to try the anti-anxiety meds because he didn’t feel he has anxiety. His doctors assured him that this wasn’t for anxiety in this case but can help relax those muscles. His entire stomach area was affected ever since he had his ulcer 2 years ago. The ulcer is long gone but those gut tightening symptoms keep on going. Now, after taking the anti-anxiety meds, they have stopped the ‘gut wrenching’ and he’s finally feeling normal again! It really was so disruptive for him and I’m sure it is for you!

I hope you find some relief. Good luck with your tests! Will you let me know what you find out?

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@billjudis

I have this as well off and on, but pretty consistent the last 6 months. I wondered what it was! I appreciate the replies…Judi

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Hi Judi, welcome to Connect! I’m sorry you’re going through those miserable symptoms too and I hope you find some help.
Keeping in mind, as I told @greekcan, I’m not a medical professional and can’t diagnose or prescribe treatment. Members of our forum can used their experiences to share with others who are having similar issues.

When did your stomach issues begin? Did you also have a hiatal hernia or pre-existing stomach issue such as gerd or acid reflux?

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@billjudis

I have this as well off and on, but pretty consistent the last 6 months. I wondered what it was! I appreciate the replies…Judi

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Hello @billjudis and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I appreciate your response to this discussion about tightness around the rib cage.

I'm wondering how long you've had this and what your doctors may have suggested?

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Hello! I've had this tightness around my ribe cage since my last stomach surgery in October 21 2021. I've asked a few times and no one seems to know what it its! On your community responses, I found out about myofascial release and I have scheduled a couple of appointmtments in July. I will let you know how it goes! Thanks!

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