Ask the Advocates: Rib Cramping

Rib cramping is very common for people with COPD and often a major frustration expressed by our community here at Additionally, many feel confused about what to do for rib cramping and do not feel that their doctor is able to offer much advice when it comes to this symptom of COPD.

We asked our advocate team about rib cramping, from what this feels like to tips to deal with it. Check out their answers below, and comment with your own answers!

Tips to deal with rib cramping and COPD


Mom described it as an elephant on her chest many times. Lying down triggered fear, as though the weight on her chest would push all the air out and she couldn't inhale again. When reclining, sometimes she would begin to pant or take small breaths, and then she would become dizzy. We got a lot of pillows for her to lie down with at night so that her chest didn't feel so heavy.

Read Karen's bio here!


Rib cramping is very common with COPD and extremely frustrating! It can come on without any warning and can be so painful. While rib cramping most often occurs at night or when you’ve been still for a long time, it can really happen at any time. Staying hydrated is an important piece of the relief puzzle. When certain electrolyte levels are low in the body, it can make cramping worse. Slow, pursed-lip breathing can also help alleviate cramping. It forces you to slow your breathing down and focus on taking it easy. Muscle relaxers and certain supplements can also help but be sure to talk with your doctor before adding anything to your COPD medication regimen.

Read Theresa's bio here!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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