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Diaphragm Muscle: Chest Pain, Rib Pain, Difficulty Breathing

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2018)

Chest pain, pain around the bottom of the ribs, a band of pain across the mid back and difficulty inhaling deeply can indicate diaphragm muscle dysfunction.

What symptoms and pain are associated with the diaphragm muscle?

  • Chest pain
  • Pain around the bottom ribs
  • Can cause a ‘stitch’ or sharp pain in the side
  • A band of pain across the middle back

Where is the diaphragm muscle?

The diaphragm is a mushroom shaped muscle that lies under the middle to lower ribcage.

What movements does the diaphragm muscle control?

  • Elevates and expands the ribcage when inhaling

Activities that cause diaphragm pain and symptoms:

  • Labored breathing (asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia)
  • Gasping for air during sports activities
  • Hyperventilation
  • Coughing
  • Hiccups

Interesting facts about the diaphragm:

  • Pain around the bottom of the ribs is often diagnosed as inflammation of the ribs, separated ribs, ulcers or gallbladder trouble. These symptoms can be trigger points in the diaphragm.

Clinical diagnoses to which the diaphragm muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Fracture of lower ribs
  • Costochondritis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pleurisy
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD, Emphysema)
  • Pneumonia or Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Sprain/Strain or Tear of the Rectus abdominis, Internal or External Obliques, or Intercostals
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Splenic Disease
  • Pancreatitis
Diaphragm Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

The diaphragm muscle is your primary breathing muscle.

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the diaphragm:

Satellite trigger points associated with the diaphragm muscle:

  • Rectus abdominis

For detailed anatomy information:  Diaphragm Muscle Anatomy



Help With Pain and Breathing Symptoms Caused By The Diaphram

Breathing Correctly Can Help With Diaphragm Muscle Pain

Improper or irregular breathing is one of the main contributors to diaphragm muscle dysfunction.  Learn To Breathe is a DVD by internationally renowned yoga instructor Max Strom that walks you through several breathing exercises that will help you improve your quality of breathing. The exercises are especially beneficial for people who suffer from breathing problems such as asthma,  emphysema,  COPD, and allergies.  I often recommend this DVD to friends and clients who have breathing problems. Yoga experience is not necessary.

Self Treatment For Diaphragm Dysfunction

Do you know that muscle ‘knots’ or tightness in the diaphragm can cause bands of pain in the mid-back and around the bottom of the rib cage?

If you are interested in treating back pain caused by trigger points I recommend you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it.  If you suffer from breathing problems and unresolved mid back pain or pain around the bottom of the rib cage I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points in have helped many people resolve their pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.


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