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Pain in rib cage when sleeping

I'm 30 years old, diagnosed with Scoliosis at 25. I'm assuming my pain is caused by the curve in my spin. 

I kid you not, for the last 15 years of my life my sleep has been disrupted by strong pain only in my left rib cage. Never, ever my right side. 

As of lately, it's beginning to occur every single night which is greatly affecting my quality of sleep, and quality of life. 

It used to help shoving a blanket or towel underneath my rib cage (either side), but that is no longer helping. 

I've had 2 sets of x-rays taken to try and determine what's happening, but the issue is that during the day (when I had the x-rays done) I am in no pain. It seems to disappear the moment I'm upright. So the doctors found nothing. 

I've searched the web many, many times as well and have yet to find someone else experiencing the same thing as me. I'm very frustrated and feeling at a loss.

Has anyone out there experienced this? What is it? How do I take back control of my sleep?



  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,486

    Before my surgery to correct my scoliosis i had horrible left rib pain, and the rolled up towel/blanket helped me for a few months if i was sleeping on my side.  nothing helped if i was sleeping on my back and i did start sleeping kind of in the fetal position but with my shoulders twisted away from my hips because my spine was rotating, and that providing a little bit of relief for a little while, but not enough. 

    Do you get the pain when sleeping on your side, or your back or your front? Do you know your angles and where they are in your spine?  If the angles are changing then the ribs can "flare" on the one side compared to the other because of the bending, and then pushing on the ribs on the side that is flaring can cause pain in the joints of the ribs with the spine.....

    have you talked to the doctors about it?  maybe they can do an xray when you are laying down and see what it is that's doing it?  for me i had the opposite problem, my scoliosis was a bit flexible so it disappeared a lot when i lay down, and was horrible when i stood up (mine was worsened because my facet joints gave up)....so it wasn't until doing both laying and standing xrays that they could see the problem.

    Can you describe the pain?  A little more information might help those of us that have similar things figure out if its really similar or not....and of course, keep talking with your doctor-something is going on since there's pain.  in the meantime, do you get the pain if you are in a recliner?  could you try sleeping "less horizontally" since being vertical you don't seem to have the pain?

    sorry i'm not more helpful ....and sorry you are having the pain.  sleep is so important to our bodies!

    Veritas-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

  • sorry I can not help you out, all my rib pain is post surgery. my pain before was more lightning bolts through but area, groin pain and down legs..my back pain was lower back pain and the fascet joints..i had an RFO which helped with that. sorry your in such pain..i hope you can find a doctor to talk to which will help you find cause and fix it. what degree of scoliosis do you have? hang in there..don't stop looking for the right doctor, there is someone out there somewhere that can help..good luck, keep us informed

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  • @hfaggiano  I have been experiencing the exact same symptoms for 2 years. I’ve had X-rays, CT Scan and an MRI with no answers as to why I’m experiencing pain. The onset of my rib pain usually begins 3-4 hours after I fall asleep however, lately it seems to be getting worse. Sometimes it hurts 15-30 minutes after I lay down. Advil helps but only until it wears off so that I can only sleep 3-4 hours at a time. It’s maddening and has affected the quality of my life. I am a very fit 49 year old female with scoliosis. I eat healthy, walk my dogs 40 minutes every day, cycle 50 miles a week, practice yoga and lift weights. Like you, I’ve been searching for answers on my own as the medical community is stumped without positive test results. One thing I have come a crossed recently is Slipped Rib Syndrome.  It doesn’t usually show up in x-rays and scans and my doctor thinks it sounds reasonable for my pain. He is suggesting I see a pain management doctor to do a nerve block. I’m considering this as well as reaching out to a physical therapist.  You are the first case I’ve seen or read about that matches my symptoms exactly. Perhaps we could keep one another posted if we come up with any results that work??

  • Firstly I would like to say how great it is to finally find someone who is having the same issues as me. I have been suffering with rib pain when sleeping for many years, I have not been diagnosed with any condition even after multiple blood tests, xrays, ecg’s and visits to many different specialists. I have no symptoms during the day and have an active lifestyle at 48 (male). My pain is purely when sleeping in a lying down position this can be on my back or on either side. I describe the pain as feeling as if my rib cage has gone flat on the side I am lying on. Turning over gives temporary relief until that side feels the same pain as the other. Advil has also been my saviour so far but again as soon as this wears off the pain is back and the sleep is broken. The only true way to avoid the pain is to sleep in an upright position propped up by a v pillow.

    I have just come across the slipped rib syndrome after many many google searches and this sound like exactly the symptoms I am suffering from.

    I will make a new appointment to see the doctor to discuss this as they have basically washed their hands of me so far.

    I will update this after my next appointment and look forward to seeing how you all get on with your issues.

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I have to close it. If they return we can reopen the discussion.

    If you would like to discuss this topic please create a new discussion


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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