Many people wonder if GERD causes the severe pain they get in their ribcage.
If they have not been diagnosed with GERD or acid reflux, they may hope that an acid problem is the cause of their intense ribcage pain – since acid reflux is a much more inviting diagnosis than is heart disease or cancer.
However, something really stands out whenever people ask about their “ribcage pain.”
And it’s this: Just HOW do you know the pain is emanating from your ribs in the first place?
There’s many other body tissues near and about your ribs. Pain in that vicinity doesn’t always mean it’s coming from the bones.
Thus, the term “ribcage pain” is misleading when spoken by a layperson.
Nevertheless, it’s not imaginary when GERD causes really bad pain in the region of the ribcage.
“GERD (acid reflux into esophagus) should not cause true ribcage pain,” says Dr. Edward Brettholz, MD, with Concorde Gastroenterology, who is board certified in both internal medicine and gastroenterology and is Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine.
“True ribcage pain is due to injury to the bones and muscles protecting the vital organs such as the heart and lungs,” explains Dr. Brettholz.
“However, severe erosive esophagitis can feel like the whole chest is hurting, as can esophageal spasm due to acid irritation.”
In short, gastroesophageal reflux disease does not have a direct or even indirect effect on the ribcage.
If you’re suffering from pain that genuinely seems to be coming from those bones, it’s possible you have costochondritis – which gets worse upon certain movements or body positions.
Dr. Brettholz lectures extensively and is involved in cutting edge research trials. He has a special interest and expertise in liver diseases, GERD, inflammatory bowel disease and hemorrhoid treatment.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.