Why Do It Feels Like My Rib is Catching on Something?

Recently, my father has been complaining that he has a weird feeling in his chest. Being a person in the medical world, I was naturally concerned.

When I asked him to explain the feeling, he said: “it feels like my rib is catching on something.” 

He told me the feeling is subtle at times, but there is slight pain at times. He said it intensifies with movements. He added the feeling is similar to attempts at grasping something.

In general, feeling something catching on your ribs can be a symptom of a precordial catch. This is a sign of an underlying nerve being pinched.

Instantly, I panicked and asked him to specify where it was hurting him most. To this, he could not be accurate. So, I looked upon the internet and checked on what it could be. Surprisingly, I could not find anything specific to worry about. But a few observations caught my eye.

Feels Like My Rib is Catching on Something: Location

feels like my rib is catching on something

The exact location of the feeling is critical. It explains half of the sensation itself. This is because the organs underneath can have a problem. Otherwise, it could be the muscle.

The rib cage encloses the heart and lungs. Organs like the liver, stomach, intestines, and gallbladder are located pretty close to it. Any discomfort in this area possibly has a relationship with these few organs.

In general, feeling something catching on your ribs can be a symptom of a precordial catch. This is a sign of an underlying nerve being pinched. Muscle spasm in the inner lining of the chest wall can also be a good reason. But mostly, the internal organs are unaffected here.

The two sides of the ribcage denote issues with two different organs. The reason why your right side hurts may or may not be the exact reason for the left.

Pain Underneath the Right Rib

The organs on the right side of your body are the liver, gallbladder, intestines, lung, etc. Any pain in this region can be related to these. Besides, muscle spasms can also be a good reason behind it.

Gallstones can cause a catch-like feeling. Discomforts at the time of movements like crunching or bending over are common. These originate from mild pain in the region. Every so often, the pain refers to the right shoulder blade too.

A patient with liver disorders frequently feels bloated. Along with that, he feels like my rib is catching on to something. The epigastrium is the upper center point of the rib cage. It comprises the stomach and bits of the small intestine. Tenderness in this area can also depict gastritis, acid reflux, ulceration, etc.

The right lung is on the right side of the rib cage. The most common symptom of air embolism, asthma, and bronchitis is the rib catching on something.

feels like my rib is catching on something

Pain Underneath the Left Side

The primary organ on the left side of the rib cage is the heart. Pains and aches on this side of the rib are assumed to be related to the heart.

Myocardial infarction can show similar symptoms. The pain can radiate to the left arms and legs too. The chest feels tight, and it becomes tough to breathe.

Other than that, cardiomegaly, carditis, ischemic heart disease, rheumatic heart disease can give off similar feelings.

Bacterial infections in the stomach can cause the rib cage to feel like its rib is catching on something. Gastritis, food poisoning, and ulceration are some common causes. Besides, carcinomas in the stomach can be a reason.

Feels Like My Rib Is Catching on Something: Clinical Conditions

Enlargement of the spleen is a good cause behind the stabbing pain under your left rib. Whenever you breathe, the chest wall feels compressed.

Many clinical conditions that can make one feel like my rib is catching on something are there. Usually, they are related to major diseases. Apart from that, they can progress to severe health conditions and lead to fatality. Some diseases and conditions are explained below:

Slipping Rib Syndrome

The rib cage is held together with numerous muscles and fascia. They give the chest a structure, protect the internal organs and give firmness to the body.

Slipping rib syndrome is not a life-threatening disease, but indeed it is painful. As the nerves underlying every rib are compressed, the pain keeps on increasing. It is better to treat it as soon as it is diagnosed.

There are twelve ribs on both sides of the chest. It encloses the chest cavity. They are again connected to the center in the sternum with cartilages.


Slipping rib syndrome is the dislocation of the rib from its designated location. Due to external trauma or fracture, sometimes the rib slips from the cartilage. It makes you feel like my rib is catching on to something.

Excruciating pain can be felt every time there is a movement on the torso. Moreover, it limits the usual mobility of a person. Movements get restricted eventually.


Here are a few symptoms of slipping rib syndrome:

  • Sharp pain on bending
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Slipping, popping sensation on lower ribs


The most frequent reason why feels like my rib is catching on something is Slipping rib syndrome. To have relief from this uncomfortable feeling, you can do the exercises below:

Breathing Exercises

Breathe in for 10-15 seconds and breathe out the next 10-15 seconds. Gradually release your breath and let your rib inflate and deflate. 

This exercise helps in slowly repositioning the ribs. Other than that, it aids in reducing the pain caused during breathing or regular movements. 

Pressure Exercises

It would help if you did this at a doctor’s discretion. You should apply light pressure to the chest of a person. They are instructed to breathe in and breathe out accordingly. 


Slipping rib syndrome is not a life-threatening disease, but indeed it is painful. As the nerves underlying every rib are compressed, the pain keeps on increasing. It is better to treat it as soon as it is diagnosed. Some supplements can also suppress the pain. Apart from that, some commonly prescribed methods are:

  • Proper rest
  • Avoiding strenuous activities
  • Heat or cold compression on the affected area
  • Taking pain killers like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAID)
  • Stretching and rotation exercises


Slipping rib syndrome can be diagnosed as a complication associated with diseases like:

  • Esophagitis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Muscle tears
  • Pleurisy
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma

If not treated at the proper time, it hampers the nerve below. Thus, it can cause permanent nerve damage.

Broken Ribs

You can break your ribs after severe trauma or an accident. Often, people with broken ribs complain of having a sensation that their rib is catching on something. They describe this feeling as a clicking feeling.


You can tell you have a broken rib in the following ways:

  • Tender touch causing sharp pain.
  • Intense pain during deep breathing.
  • Severe pain when you twist your body.
  • Coughing and laughing cause pain.

If you have a broken rib, the most prescribed https://www.bernardspharmacy.com medicine is proper rest. You are expected not to make any significant movements. Avoid weight lifting and any strenuous exercise.

Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Bronchitis can make your lungs leap for extra breath. They tend to make the lungs weak and look for additional support. These conditions worsen with time and can become comorbidities.

With broken ribs comes excruciating pain. For that, you can try some medicines as prescribed by your doctor.


The abnormal protrusion of an organ from the inner body cavity is called a hernia. The most common sites of hernia are your abdomen and urogenital region. Due to this, there is localized swelling. These may or may not be associated with pain.


Often, abnormal swellings give off a feeling like my rib is catching on to something. On pressing them, it can move or cause pain. Even in the rib cage, this is common.

The reasons behind this are, the muscles or underlying fascia are herniated. The heart or lungs do not get herniated, but the intestines may.

The gastrointestinal tract bears many organs. All of these are covered by the peritoneum. Increased abdominal pressure pushes its contents out of the abdominal cavity. This causes a gastrointestinal hernia.

The common symptoms of a hernia are acid reflux, swelling, localized pain, etc.

As a part of treatment, you can try to suppress the underlying cause. For example, for acid reflux, you can check out some supplements.

Doctors suggest you must undergo surgery if the herniated portion becomes troublesome.

Popping Ribs

One common symptom of slipping rib Syndrome is popping ribs or dislodged ribs.

Precisely described, this feeling appears when you sneeze or cough. You can feel a click or pop on your ribs at the time of sneezing or coughing. A sharp pain accompanies mainly.


Whenever a rib pops out of the cage, you can feel this. The underlying nerve can be compressed, and you’ll have sharp pain. However, proper rest and light exercises can get you out of this situation.

Interestingly, bowel movement pain can also radiate to the lower rib. Bubble pop or light rumbling can be characterized by it.

Complications With Respiratory Diseases

Have you noticed if you are whistling while sleeping? Does your chest tighten when you breathe? Is there a dull pain in your chest?

Every time you breathe, the feeling of your chest tries to grasp something. All these could be reasons for respiratory diseases.


Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Bronchitis can make your lungs leap for extra breath. They tend to make the lungs weak and look for additional support. These conditions worsen with time and can become comorbidities.

As soon as you show symptoms of these, visit a doctor for proper medication.


Why do I feel something under my left rib?

The spleen is situated on the left side of the body. It maintains blood production. It is a vital organ of the body.

At times due to excess fat production, a condition called Splenomegaly occurs. This is also the other name of enlargement of the spleen. It can be palpated under clinical examination along with the 9th,10th, and 11th ribs.

Any physical pain, be it sharp or dull, can be associated with the spleen. An urgent ultrasound is prescribed in this case.

What is pulsating under my right rib cage?

Hepatomegaly or enlargement of the liver is a prime cause of why you can feel pulsations under your right rib cage.

Like the spleen, this occurs from excess fat deposition. Patients are suggested not to have fatty food and to control their diet.

Slowly their uncomfortable feeling in the chest tends to go away. With a better diet and exercise, they will not feel like their rib is catching on to something.

What does a gastritis attack feel like?

Gastritis is an acute inflammation of the stomach walls. This is often stimulated by oily and greasy food and a lack of food.

Sharp pain in the epigastrium prevails associated with nausea and vomiting. For this, it is highly recommended not to stay hungry for long. Furthermore, oily foods are also discouraged from being taken regularly.

How do I know if I have gastritis or an ulcer?

Ulceration is the breaking of the skin surface or dermal layer of an organ. On the other hand, gastritis is the inflammation of the coating.

The common difference between the two is, ulceration comes with minor swelling. The pain is associated with food intake. It can be reduced or elicited by specific food items. However, gastritis does not show similar symptoms. Some supplements are available to reduce this acid reflux.


The majority of the population tends to ignore small body obstacles. Unless you are fainting or having a significant cardiac arrest, you won’t visit a hospital. These minor health issues might lead to something big one day.

Whenever you feel like my rib is catching on something, always visit a doctor. You might think it is nothing big. But it might be the cause of your death one day. Not mean to scare you, but a little checkup will not harm anyone!

Nuha Adila

Nuha Adila

I am a health enthusiast who finds fitness as a top priority in life. I like to keep a track of what I eat despite my profound attachment to any spicy food. Being a medical student, looking out for healthier food and lifestyle options has become a habit. And music inspires me while I write.

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