Will Rib Removal Help Alleviate The Burning Pain On My Left Side?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have been suffering with rib pain for over 2 years now. I can’t walk or do activities without burning pain in my left side. I believe the worst are ribs 11 and 12, possibly 10. I saw that you’ve done surgery for the bottom ribs hitting the iliac crest. I am not sure if thats what happening to mine or not, but I am in a lot of pain. Are all CT scans 3d? I had a CT scan (with contrast) in 2017 when this first started but they did not find anything. I’ve also had a thoracic MRI but nothing found. I am running out of options and not sure wha to do.

A: I obviously can not say for certain whether #11 and #12 rib removals would be the cure for your symptoms.  In costo-iliac syndrome the long lower ribs (or shortened waist on the affected side) can impinge upon the iliac crest. This can be a source of pain that occurs or exacerbated when one bends over onto that side and the ribs actually touch the iliac crest. Otherwise all x-ray studies would usually be negative as they are done in the upright position. This is typical pain that occurs when one bends over but is relieved when one stands straight.

Whether any of this applies to you I can not say. You would certainly not want to got though such rib removals and end up with no relief of your symptoms.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana