Muscle cramp is a common health problem which can result due to numerous reasons. As humans grow older, muscles are prone to cramps, aches, and pain. Cramps and stiffness can occur in any muscles, but the most frequent site for muscle cramps in day to day life is in the rib cage.
Muscle cramps are involuntary; it means they tighten on their own. But certain factors are known to trigger it. Cramps in ribcage are often observed in those who strain or overwork their upper body muscles. Therefore, it is a common health issue among athletes and people who do strenuous work which involves their upper half of the body.
Muscle cramps in rib cage can be extremely discomforting and debilitating for the patient. It is therefore important to know the underlying cause for cramps in rib cage, and how to manage it at home with simple home remedies.
Cramps In Rib Cage Muscles Symptoms
Pain and stiffness are two important symptoms of cramps in ribcage. Usually the pain is mild to moderate and in most cases it can be treated at home. It can be severe sharp shooting pain or dull and aching depending on how severe the cramp is.
Sometimes, there is a feeling as if the muscle in ribcage is being pulled.Usually only one side of ribcage is affected at a time. One of the important differential diagnoses of muscle cramps in ribcage is fractured or injured rib which may require prompt medical review.
What Causes Muscle Cramps In Rib Cage Area?
There are several muscles that are attached to the rib cage. The exact etiology of muscle cramps in thoracic cage is not clear, but it has been suggested by experts that the main reason for cramps in this area is due to contraction of diaphragm. It is a dome shaped muscle located on the inferior side of rib cage. Diaphragm has two important functions. It separates thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity as it is located beneath the lungs. It also helps in inspiration and expiration of air from the lungs due to constant relaxation and contraction movement.
A sudden jolt to the upper part of body can produce stress on the diaphragm. It may get pulled and as a result the tissues attached to it may get stretched resulting in cramps. Low level of magnesium and potassium can also produce cramps in any muscles including muscles attached to the rib cage. A dehydrated person who does exercises for upper body and chest muscles can also be a victim of cramps in rib cage.
Home Remedies For Muscle Spasms In Ribs
Most cases of muscle cramps in rib cage can be managed at home with simple home remedies.
- Hot fomentation substantially helps to relax the spasm in rib cage muscle. Place a heating pad over the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times in a day.
- A gentle massage over the chest and back is effective in relaxing strained muscles of thoracic cage. Take few drops of lavender oil and mix it with coconut oil. Apply over the affected area and gently rub the area. After the massage, you can additionally place heating pad for faster improvement.
- Before performing any exercise, ensure that you are adequately hydrated. Drink one or two glasses of water one hour before doing any workout.
- If the problem recurs on and off, take supplements containing calcium and magnesium as lack of salts often lead to cramps.
- Breathe in and out slowly and deeply while doing upper body workout. Rapid and shallow breathing while performing upper body exercise can put a strain on the diaphragm and other muscles of thoracic cage.