During pregnancy, the rib cage undergoes structural changes in response to hormonal changes. The growing uterus, placenta and baby push your abdominal organs in all directions to make room. The rib cage widens and the pressure from the top of the growing uterus causes soreness and pain which can range from mild discomfort to extreme soreness.
Sometimes the joints between the rib and cartilage attaching the rib to the sternum get inflamed – this condition is called costochondritis. The pain associated with this condition tends to be nagging, constant, sharp and very tender to touch.
Can rib pain be prevented?
Stay fit, mobile and as aligned as possible and this will assist in preventing this pain developing. This is especially important if you have had problems in the thoracic spine or rib cage previously. You can get a pregnancy exercise program on DVD or join a local pregnancy pilates or yoga class.
*Use pregnancy support – pillows, belts and specially designed belly bras to keep your body aligned and promote good posture.
*There are specific stretches and exercises that can help to alleviate discomfort – ask your physiotherapist for advice.
*Avoid staying in one position for too long- get up and take regular breaks to move around.
*Use cold or heat packs – whatever works best for you.
Remember you can always ask your midwife, physiotherapist, acupuncturist or other health care professional for help and advice. There are treatments that may greatly reduce pain and discomfort you are experiencing.