4 Factors That Contribute to Pain Under The Right Rib Cage

The rib cage comprises twelve thoracic vertebrae, twelve pairs of ribs, and the sternum. And whenever any of these structures are damaged, you are likely to experience rib cage pain. More often than not, this pain is as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest cavity. The ribs can also develop cracks or even fracture when you suffer soft tissue injuries or receive a hard blow to the chest, with injuries to the ligaments and intercostals muscles supporting the rib cage responsible for the resultant pain. In addition, this pain may be accompanied by bruising and swelling with the injured area sore to touch.

Causes For Pain Under The Right Rib Cage

Pain in and around the rib cage may be attributed to a wide range of factors. And if you happen to get an injury to the right side of your thoracic cavity, the pain will be localized around this region. Below, therefore, we take a look at 4 factors that may contribute to pain under the right rib cage as follows:

Rib Injuries

Rib injuries are often as a result of crush injuries, motor vehicle accidents, or falls with the intensity of pain dependent on the force or impact upon the rib cage. They could also occur due activities/sports that involve repetitive movements e.g. rowing or golf, or in people with low bone density. If you suffer an injury on the right side of your rib cage, you are likely to experience pain at this location. Pain will also be felt when taking deep breaths or with every movement you make. In situations where a person is suffering from a displaced rib fracture i.e. where a rib dislodges thereby causing damage to surrounding organs, complications may arise and it is advisable to seek medical attention at the earliest opportunity.

Pain Under The Right Rib Cage

Costal cartilage inflammation

Costal cartilage denotes the bands of cartilage attaching the ends of the ribs to the sternum. And undoubtedly, one of the most common causes of pain to the right side of the rib cage is inflammation of this cartilage, a condition referred to as costochondritis. While repetitive strain injuries or chest trauma are often the reason behind it, inflammation of the costal cartilage could also occur due to violent coughing synonymous with viral respiratory conditions. Common symptoms include painful breathing and chest pains and to alleviate these anti-inflammatory drugs and/or painkillers may be prescribed.


Located beneath the liver is the gallbladder- a small sac that is pear shaped and which releases and stores bile. Bile is a digestive juice that consists of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts and when the levels of the latter two increase, it could result in the formation of stone-like deposits in the gallbladder known as gallstones. These can block the natural flow of bile thereby adversely affecting the digestive process and resulting in cholecystitis.
This condition is characterized by pain in the abdomen’s upper quadrant with those affected also experiencing pain on their right side, especially under the ribs.

Intercostal strain

Intercostal muscles are a group of muscles located between the ribs and which are vital in the respiratory process. Whenever we inhale, they contract and expand the rib cage while relaxing and allowing it to drop during exhalation. This movement brings a pressure change within the chest thus allowing us to push out air or draw it in.

Therefore, if these muscles on your right side are affected, may be due to a sudden twist of the torso, pain is likely to ensue accompanied by soreness and painful breathing.


  1. annette Conyers says

    Can any of these condition be brought on by motorcycle riding? Took a 180 mile ride, and I was not used to riding…ever since I’ve had difficulty in taking deep breaths, and pain on my right side, centering around the last rib. I’ve also had a chronic barking cough since the beginning of fall…any info on similar things would be appreciated. I’ve just been through a complete physical end of January, and the only thing that came back positive was osteopenia. Don’t want to go to the Doctor to be told that there’s nothing wrong, and then have to pay for visit and tests again. Thanks…

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