Rib Pain from Radiotherapy?

I had a lumpectomy followed by 6 months chemo and 4 weeks radio (Oct 2015). I had ribs pain for sometimes but am too afraid to ask. It is now Jan 2017 and I have episodes of panic thinking the worse. Does anyone know why the ribs pain? What causes it? I keep changing bras, or not wearing them, but nothing works.

Thank you Charys for directing me to this thread. I had radiotherapy June/July last year & have since experienced rib pain especially after exercising. Like many have said I too have been worried that it was something more sinister as it seems to be getting worse not better. But at least we can reassure each other that it seems to be normal. I did ask the oncologist at my follow up in September & he said depending where the radiotherapy was directed, it can hit the ribs & in extreme cases cause breaks. The only suggestion he had was take painkillers which he would prescribe if I wanted, but I didn’t really want to be on painkillers unless it became unbearable which for me it isn’t most days. I also get pain at breast bone & collarbone occasionally as I had radiotherapy there, too. But it is worrying when you keep getting aches & pains that don’t seem to be improving. At least we have this forum to be able to reassure each other.

Hi Charys and Anita,
Thank you for your posting. Since I found this thread and read that my experience was shared by others, my family said I was back to my old self - and a lot more positive. I didn’t realise how much fear, not knowing and imagining the worse and isolation impacted on me. So thank you again. The rads were difficult to deliver, because the bc area was directly above the heart. I was warned that my lungs would be slightly scarred but apparently the heart is very tough. I held my breath (special device) to avoid damage to my heart. No one told me about the ribs.

With anastrozole I have been prescribed calcium tablets with vitamin D. My daughter suggested Epsom salt bath to get magnesium through the skin. Magnesium, she said, helps the absorption of calcium. Perhaps I should take glucosamine for the cartilage too?

Hi Egret

I had wle in Feb last year, followed by chemo & finished rads in Aug. I also have rib pain on the affected side - my oncologist who is very sympathetic, sent me for a bone scan to put mind mind at rest - thankfully it was clear, as he reassured me it would be.

He explained that radiotherapy causes inflammation to the covering of the ribs which causes the pain as it is repairing the damage - it can last for many many months.

Knowing I have the same aches/pains followed by a clear bone scan, I’m hoping this can lessen your worries :slight_smile:

Loolyboo xxx

Thanks for the posts on this thread. I had an MX last June and had radiotherapy before Christmas. Have had rib pain for a long time and had X-rays a while ago, thankfully all clear. The rib pain has recently been worse but Drs I saw for follow ups in both radiotherapy and breast surgeon weren’t worried. It seems to have calmed down a bit now so I’m hoping all will be well. I seem to go from one ache to the next - my ANC arm is sore today so I’m panicking it’s the start of lymphodema! How I long for my carefree days pre diagnosis. 

Rib pain is really painful at times , but got good news today results from my mammogram all good so happy

Thankyou charys, I must have read the letter ten times just to make sure then cried with relief, just this rib pain although ibuprofen seems to take the edge of it thanks again ?

I to had lumpectomy chemo and radiotherapy all finished on October 16 egret, and it seems to be immflamation on ribs from radiotherapy, I started taking some ibuprofen which takes the edge of it

Hi mine was right underneath just where your ribs are every pain I get I was worried about but feel a bit more at ease since having my mammogram , its bad enough going through everything without the side effects, I have a bit of peripheral neuropathy in my finger tips but it’s not to nab and oncologist says it will eventually go but prescribed me amitriptyline and that has helped

Yeah and mine was on my left side so I did the deep breath inhalation for the radiotherapy

I’m also taking centrum multivitamin and osteocare for the calcium magnesium and vitamin d as told to by gp ?

That’s good news heatherc , pain in ribs can be really sore at times I find it’s worse when I’m in bed and when I turn round it’s not so bad when I’m up moving about and I find ibuprofen takes the edge of it

I had a bilateral lumpectomy and a partial mastectomy. I understand rib pain. Sometimes it takes my breath away. I’m not sure if the pain was caused from the operations or most likely the radiation treatment. But it often makes it difficult for me to exercise.


I understand your pain katelynne it can be really painful at times I find it painful if I turn certain ways to quickly, I ve been advised it’s from the radiotherapy and was told to take some ibuprofen as pain is inflammation hope this helps and let’s you know your not alone lots of us have it to xx

I had a lumpectomy in June 2016 and radiation in Aug 2016 on my right breast. About a month ago (March 2017) I started having a lot of pain behind my right shoulder blade and on my frontside right under my right breast in the rib area. I was worried my Chiropractor may have fractured a rib during an adjustment. The pain was so bad that it hurt to laugh, sneeze, cough or breathe in deep. I finally went to urgent care and they took chest/rib X-rays. The doctor said she did not see any fractures. She said I probably just have inflammation and scarring in tissues around ribs due to radiation. She gave me a dose of Toradol (strong NSAID) in my backside and that took the edge off the pain. So, I guess it truly was inflammation. Now, that I am reading all these comments, I see I am not alone and this seems like a common side effect of the radiation.

Hi kaylnf I feel your pain it can be really painful although it seems to be easing a bit now , I was told it was imflammation from rads, I finished mine in October 16 x

I too had a lumpectomy on my right breast in June 2016, radiation (20) in Aug 2016. Have recently been experiencing rib tenderness underneath my armpit and sometimes underneath by breast. I go for a mammogram on Tuesday and was going to mention it to my doctor. Looks like it’s non uncommon!

It seems very common Michelle sometimes it was very painful I started to feel it before I went for my first mammogram in March this year and they said it was due to the radiotherapy as it can cause a bit of inflammation but it’s not to bad now thank goodness I just took some ibuprofen which did take the edge of it x

Hiyer Rd,

Glad this thread helped you ? my rib pain…which I think was probably connective tissue rather than bone pain if you know what I mean…has practically gone now. I had rt last June…so maybe by your first mammo yours will be gone too. X

I am so glad I found this site. I finished 16 days radiation on right side MARCH 27, 2017. I am still having burning peeling, tough skin etc. But now even after removing bra I have rib pains in front and my shoulder blade area. Its so bad I can’t breath deep, move my arm without severe pain. Sleep is impossible. I am trying to get back to NORMAL work schedule but fatigue is hindering me. I am grateful I can pick and choose assignments. As Caregiver of seniors in their homes I can pick lighter care. I am 78 had stage 2 breast cancer lumpectomy only lost 3 lymph nodes. But I am thinking the cure is as bad as the disease. The Tamoxifen has terrible side effects. Yep I am depressed tonight. But praying better tomorrow. Prayers for all of you on this site too.