Are you pregnant and experiencing pain around your chest, ribcage or maybe with breathing? This pain may be coming from your ribs.

What causes rib pain when pregnant?

When a pregnancy progresses, the ribcage expands due to the growing baby. In fact, the average subcostal angle of the ribs (figure below) at the xiphoid process increases from 68.5ᵒ at the beginning of pregnancy to 103.5ᵒ at full term.

This expansion in ribcage dimensions is required to help give more space to the lungs to help with breathing. With this rib expansion means the muscles in between the ribs and many of the accessory muscles which help out with breathing have to do more work, this can cause discomfort and pain.
The actual breathing pressures during pregnancy do not change during pregnancy or after delivery however, this is at the expense of chest wall changes.

Factors influencing rib pain during pregnancy?

  • Size and position of growing fetus
  • Type of work – sitting jobs may reduce the abdominal space for the fetus
  • Sleeping position/posture
  • Stress levels
  • Amount of physical activity

If you have sudden shortness of breath, a significant increase in pain or any symptom that doesn’t seem normal for you. Go to your GP or obstetrician to rule out any other cause of your rib pain.

rib pain during pregnancy

What can a Women’s Health Physiotherapist do for rib pain during pregnancy?

  • Thorough subjective and objective assessment (current and past history)
  • Assessing posture, muscle strength and posture
  • Modifying your daily activities to help reduce pain
  • If indicated trial strapping or a brace to relieve the pain
  • Introduce exercise and stretches which will help your body relax
  • Trigger point release, massage and/or acupuncture to reduce muscle tension around painful areas

If you are experience rib pain, you don’t need to put up with it, Physiotherapy treatment can help relieve your pain. Contact us today to make an appointment (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online.