The Hazards of a Hug (or When Bear Hugs Get a Little Hairy)

Warning:  Boring, whiny, self-indulgent post ahead.

I mentioned briefly in my last post that I had sustained a “small” injury.  Well, it was small in terms of the actual body part injured, but since that body part seems to be rubbing up against a nerve ending, it turns out to be large in terms of pain, which is getting worse instead of better. 

Hence, this post.  Those that know me well know that I have a very hard time asking for help, so the fact that I’m writing this is some measure of my desperation.  At the risk of boring you to tears, I thought I’d fling this into cyberspace and see what comes back.  Hopefully, this will be my first and last post seeking free medical advice.   🙂

The way it happened is almost comic.  My brother and his wife had come to visit and were taking their leave.  We were out on the porch taking last-minute pictures and giving big hugs in the way of long, long goodbyes that Southerners are prone to.  Janet and I were giving each other a big, ole bear hug, when I felt something go Thwack in my chest.  It felt sort of like a fan belt broke loose—it hit my chest with that much force.

In fact, Janet felt it too and jumped back.  I clutched my chest in amazement.  She looked so stricken that my first words were to reassure her that it was nothing she had done.  Then I thought, “What in the hell was that?”

It did hurt, but mainly when I breathed deeply—at first.  And, no, the Thwack was not the sound like a rib breaking would make.  It was more of a big Snap against my chest, like a giant rubber band.

Here’s where I tell you that I have a well-earned aversion to doctors.  Except for when I clearly have a raging infection that only antibiotics will cure, I always take the Wait-and-See approach.  Our bodies have wondrous self-healing properties.

But now I’m hurting more than I did at first.  I am even considering taking the ancient Darvocet I found in our cabinet.  And I’m real stoical about pain.   (Endured long and difficult labors with natural childbirth without so much as a Tylenol or cuss word—twice).   But it hurts when I bend over, it hurts when I breathe, it hurts when I push or pull with my left arm, and it hurts when I rise up from lying down.  And not just in my chest.  Because of the compressed nerve, I think, it hurts both in my back and in my shoulder.  It’s sort of like someone keeps running me through with a sword. 

So I did Internet research and finally came up with a pretty certain diagnosis—I have  “slipping rib syndrome.”  I know, it sounds kind of silly, but that’s what they call it.  Apparently, one or two of my ribs have pulled away from the ligaments that usually hold them in place and the cartilage tip of the ribs are slipping upward and impinging on the intercostal nerves.  So my ribs are literally getting on my nerves.

I believe this is the result of a long-ago injury to my chest and rib area when I was taking care of my Mama.  She had Lou Gehrig’s Disease and was in a wheelchair.  I often had to lift her when other measures weren’t effective.  She weighed about 160 pounds, and I recall feeling something tear in my chest and hurt afterwards once when I lifted her.  So I think the seeds were sown then for this injury, and the chickens have come home to roost.  (Is that a mixed metaphor, or what?!)

Anyway, the purpose of this long and dull post is to find out if anybody out there has any clue what I should do to hasten the healing and ease the pain.  (If you’re still awake and reading, that is).  I’ve been taking the maximum Excedrin, as well as Valerian to relax my muscles and Glucosamine and Chondroitin to build up cartilage and connective tissue.  And when I am able to do so, I’ve been applying heat to the area. 

Please forgive me for whining.  And for one of the worst mixed metaphors ever in the history of blogging.  Apparently, being unable to breathe deeply has starved my brain of oxygen.  But I know you understand.   🙂


139 Responses to “The Hazards of a Hug (or When Bear Hugs Get a Little Hairy)”

  1. lucky pennies Says:

    I’m so sorry. I have no clue what to do and I’m sorry I don’t. I’ve been praying real hard for you, though. It’s such a weird injury to get. I hope someone has a remedy.

  2. wesleyjeanne Says:

    I am so sorry. That sounds terrible. I wish I could advise you, but can’t. If you can get through the pain, I guess the best thing to do is rest and let it heal itself. But yuck.

    Oh…and natural childbirth without a curse word? I don’t believe it!

  3. marion Says:

    Fred First, the physical therapist from Floyd, might have a clue. He’s at He’s Colleen’s dear friend. And the nicest fellow ever.

  4. CountryDew Says:

    Oh! I have this.

    Moist heat is the best thing. Do that for the first 24 hours, then start alternating between heat and ice.

    The other thing is to get a tennis ball and place it against the wall and then roll it down your spine, pushing hard against it as you do. Sometimes it pops the rib back in. I’d be very careful doing this if you’re not sure about it, though.

    The other remedies are either a massage or a chiropractor. If you have a massage therapist in your area, try that if you’re adverse to the chiropractor.

  5. June Says:

    Add me to the list of people caring about your hurt. Sorry, but I don’t have a clue, except I would be cautious taking any ancient medicines. Sometimes they just are ineffective; other times though, they morf into a derivative that can be dangerous. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Sara Says:

    I hate to be a stick in the mud, especially since I’m reading this kind of late, but I’d see a doctor about it. The internet is great but sometimes its worth it to be reassured by a medical doctor that it really isn’t something scary. Then you can get busy getting better without the stress of worrying that it’s something worse that you’re ignoring.
    Be brave! Feel better soon!

  7. Shannon Says:

    Hi Beth,
    Um, what about seeing a chiropractor? One did amazing things for my back at one point, and it is all natural. That sounds like something one could fix fairly quickly. Do know that many a times they do want to see you for more visits then are necessary I think………..take it on a visit by visit basis.

    Oh, good thoughts. Ouch! That even sounds painful!!!! Shannon

  8. colleen Says:

    We are very like-minded when it comes to doctors, allowing the body to heal, and doing our own research. I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with what you mention. I was enthralled reading it though — not bored at all. The part about sounded like a fan belt broke, you might laugh about later (when it won’t hurt).

    I woke up with some sort of TMJ jaw pain a few days ago (it only hurts when I eat). I was all set to go to my acuputucturist when I read how common it is and how usually it goes away on its own. Is what you have that type of thing? Something that tends to heal on its own?

    I’m going to ask Fred to come over and make a house call.

  9. fred1st Says:

    Weird. My wife goes to the doctor today with similar sx–but not slipped rib, just costochondral injury along with some muscle strain. Almost two weeks ago the dog pulled her down a steep rocky hill chasing a feral cat that came down the tree and ran right in front of 80 pounds of yellow lab. She couldn’t let go of the leash, and got a pull on her shoulder that exceeded the weeny muscles ability to resist.

    Problem with this kind of injury is that x-ray will only rule out rib fracture, it won’t confirm this kind of laxity or inflammatory condition. I can’t speak for chiropractic abilities to “fix” this kind of thing. I do understand that once established, it can take a long time for this to heal on its own. And the sx can be quite distressing as they impact breathing (including–oh NO!–a dreaded sneeze or cough) and can involve chest pain as well–never a comforting sensation in someone my age.

    In your situation, my advice in the short run (which you’ve probably already figured out) is avoid push-pull-carry-lift and try ice application and stay otherwise as active as you can (walking etc) and not overly “guard” the involved side or other secondary problems (muscle trigger points) may set in. Bummer. A hug injury. It is NOT a just world, eh?

    If my wife’s doctor sheds any light on her situation, I’ll let you know.

  10. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    A big thanks to everyone for your kind words and good advice. I am doing somewhat better, with the pain at a more manageable level, though it still hurts to breathe and use my left arm and hand (which is a little inconvenient). I am hopeful that with time, my body will knit itself back together. If not, I will consider other alternatives. I will, in the future, be a little more cautious about bear hugs! Remember–always practice “safe hugs!” 🙂
    Thanks again, y’all.

  11. ben (aka guitar maniac) Says:

    Well I’m glad you’re feeling a little bit better, and it sounds like you got some great advice :-). But you will always be in my prayers.

  12. Becky Mushko Says:

    Myofascial release might help. It works on the connective tissue. Ruth Mitchell in Moneta works on me (currently really helping my heel spur!) and my horses. Her web site is She fixes people on Mondays; other days she does horses.

  13. Lisa Says:

    Oh, I have this now, and found you looking for solutions on the internet. I can attest to the fact that it is very painful! I have a whole new appreciation for people who have had broken ribs!

    The chiropractor did help, yet there is one rib that stubbornly stayed loose. This might be because I didn’t lay down all day, the day of the adjustment. I’m trying to work with it, hoping it will go back on it’s own. If not, I’ll be back to the chiropractor Monday, and will be much more careful after the adjustment. Also, after the adjustment, I soked in a tub with epsom salt.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions!

  14. Pam Says:

    I think you have correctly diagnosed it. I would not bother seeing a family doctor because if they can’t see it under a microscope, on and x-ray, mri or some other expensive test then they think it must not exist. My Chiropractor did know about slipped ribs and I don’t know what I would have done without him.

  15. Nora Says:

    I am sorry to hear of your pain and as you can see by the date of my reply the only reason I would be looking this up..same thing happened to me. My bear hug was from an old friend with big strong arms. He hugged me so hard and lifted me and my feet were off the ground. I heard a pop..thought it was my underwire bra. …hurt a little but within 24 hours I am in horrible horrible…did I say horrible pain. Everyone says it is my rib and nothing can be done….but jez..we can put a man on the moon, but doing nothing for this. It’s been 12 days now and I can’t do anything but lie down, if I can find the position that works….I can sit for a while. However getting dressed or moving my left arm or leaning..I feel a lot of pressure and pain in the area.

  16. Dee Says:

    Ouch sounds like that hurts. Don’t ever let a doctor tell you there’s nothing you can do. That just means “I don’t know.” Not sure if this will help this issue, but since it appears to be ligament related, maybe try finding a prolotherapist. I used it for my neck injury (ligament related) and it is the only that’s helped. I was in serious pain, too – it was horrible and it had been 2 years of chronic pain before I found a prolotherapy doctor. Just make sure you find a good one…one affiliated with the is a good start.

    Good luck

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Thank you for your advice, Dee. I’m so glad that you’ve found help for your neck injury—I know from experience how difficult chronic pain can be. Even now, almost three years later, I still suffer some pain from my rib injury (though it is much less severe). I had read on the internet about prolotherapy, but after finding out that insurance doesn’t cover it, I realized that it wouldn’t be an option for me. The bitter irony is that we pay so much for our health insurance that it leaves us unable sometimes to even afford the co-payments it requires. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment—you are very kind.

  17. jenn Says:

    This just happened to me this morning – a huge guy hugged me so hard and then SNAP and I could hardly stay standing. He told me to just breathe but it hurts to take a deep breath. Unbelievable! I had no idea this could happen.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Jenn. My heart goes out to you—-I know how horribly painful this can be. I decided to comment because I did want to say that I’ve found ibuprofen to truly be the most helpful in relieving both the inflammation and the pain. Also, I wanted to reassure you (and anyone else who might find this post in a search) that for most folks who are unlucky enough to have this problem, the pain resolves itself in a matter of months or even weeks for a lucky few. As you can see from the comments, lots of folks have gotten relief from chiropractors, too. Anyway, I do hope your pain is soon better. Every single time I get another comment on my post here, I say a prayer of healing for that person because I remember all too well just how much pain this injury caused. And I have done that for you (and for all others who’ve commented).

      All the best, Beth (blue ridge blue collar girl)

      • FLERIDA Astacio Says:

        Please pray n for my mama she v is in shop much pain she had back b surgery a few months ago and can’t walk yet but I am hopeful that she will walk again one day soon , anyway when my dad tried to lift her from bed to recliner she complained of pain under her breast and she has pain when she breathes..she has been through so much lately, she needs all the prayers she can get, God is my only hope for full recovery.

  18. Lori Says:

    Beth, I just really wanted to thank you for your post. The same thing happened to me Saturday night when a bouncer I know lifted me up and hugged me and I heard alot of cracking noise. Went to urgent care in the morning and they said no broken ribs, I must have bruised them. The pain is unbearable on my left side, the only comfortable position is standing or sitting up on the couch. They gave me muscle relaxers, hydrocodone and told me to take ibuprofin. I was hoping this would be feeling better in a week but I guess now I am looking at weeks/months. Thank you again as no one believes how much pain I am in from a simple hug.
    Charlotte, NC

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Lori, my heart goes out to you! Even though it’s now been five years since my injury, I still recall clearly the intense pain I had afterwards. And I also recall how people seemed dubious that I could hurt that much if my ribs weren’t broken. Even doctors seem to be unaware of how severe this injury can be. The good thing is that, from what I’ve heard from others and read on the internet, most of the time the pain goes completely away eventually. In my case (probably because my rib area was already injured from lifting my bedridden mama), I still have some pain and have to take ibuprofen regularly, but it’s pretty mild now. I do have to avoid certain activities. And also people who hug too enthusiastically. 🙂

      I do hope you are soon completely healed and free of pain. As you probably read above, many folks have been helped by chiropractors, so that might be an alternative for you, since doctors seem oblivious to how serious this can be. I will say a prayer for your healing. All the best to you, Lori…


  19. Lirraine Says:

    I can’t believe how many people get hurt from bear hugs! Add me to the list. About 5 days ago, mymson-in-law bear hugged me lifting me off the ground and I heard what sounded like bones clicking together and immediate pain to my left side rib cage. When I take a deep breath, it hurts, when I lay down at night, it’s the worst. Turning over in bed is painful too. It’s hard to tell where the pain is coming from because when I press the top of my rib cage under the breast area, it hurts, but I feel it all across my left side. Can’t believe this is going to take weeks to heal. I didn’t know I was so fragile but then again I guess quite a few can feel my pain!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      I’m so sorry about your injury, Lirraine. My heart goes out to you. From what I’ve read (and my own experience) I think the widespread pain is likely the result of a nerve ending being pressed on by one of your ribs. I did want to say that I have read of some folks’ injuries healing even more quickly than in weeks—I do pray that will be the case for you! I do recommend ibuprofen. My understanding is that it’s the best thing for inflammation.

      All the best to you…and prayers for quick healing.


  20. Julie Says:

    Last night, my 15 year old Grandson hugged me tightly when my arms were at my sides and both of us heard the pop….pain immediately following! Was scared that a rib had broken, but didn’t want to upset him more. My question to you, is did it need to be put back in place, either by your chiropractor or yourself to stop the uncomfortableness?

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Julie. I’m so sorry that you had this happen. I remember so well how much it hurt. I never did go to a chiropractor, but I’ve heard of many folks who got immediate relief from their pain after visiting a chiropractor. I’m not really sure how the chiropractor works their magic, but I guess it must involve some sort of manipulation. And, as I’ve mentioned in earlier comments, I think most people experience complete healing with time. With me, it was a gradual thing. It became less and less painful over time. I will say that I do still experience flare-ups from time to time, but ibuprofen is very helpful with that.

      Best wishes for quick healing—God bless you.


  21. Laura d Says:

    Thank you for your post! I had never heard of this but you described what I’m going through perfectly! I have hope that I will heal.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      You’re welcome, Laura. I think the chances are pretty good that you will eventually heal…and with most folks, it heals completely. I pray that will be the case with you. Meanwhile, you may find some relief with ibuprofen—I did. Also, muscle relaxants can be helpful. I used valerian, but sometimes the stronger stuff is necessary.

      God bless you—all the best,

  22. Glory Gauri Dassi Says:

    i am amazed at how many people..seems mostly women -have had this too…a good friend came by to say hi..gave me a big hard bear hug..lifting me off the floor and as he did i felt an instant stabbing pain in my left knocked the breath out of …four days later it still hurts..much like others posts here.well at least we are not alone in this..thanks everyone for sharing.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      It amazes me, too, Glory. The good thing is that from what I’ve seen, most of them recover without further pain. I hope that is the case with you.

      By the way, sorry not to respond earlier—I’ve been recovering from surgery and related treatment(don’t worry—not related to my rib issues!).

      All the best to you, Glory. (I love your name, by the way).


  23. Genesis Says:

    Well the bear hug claimed another victim a week ago…me 😦 After visiting a friend I was told goodbye with a hug that brought my feet off the floor. I heard and felt a large pop with a tearing sensation in the left side of my rib cage. Immediate pain occurred as well as not being able to take a breath. I staggered a couple of steps. I remember leaning my head against the door frame. My body would not cooperate and allow me to breathe. The next thing I knew I opened my eyes to see his upside-down face because I was on the floor. I had passed out! Since the incident I have had moderate to severe pain, depending on my activity. It hurts to lift, reach, twist, bend, lay, sit, stand, walk, cough, sneeze, hiccup, or breathe. Basically it hurts to be alive. I cant wait for this to heal. My friend is now only to give me an “air hug” lol….oh shoot…and it hurts to lol

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Genesis! I was wincing when I read your description of your pain because I will never forget how much it hurt in the time after my injury. Who knew that a simple bear hug could be so hazardous? And it does seem particularly cruel how much it hurts to laugh afterwards. And breathe.

      But it does get better! I can testify to that…and most never have trouble again once they heal. I do pray that you will heal quickly, without further pain. Meanwhile, be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to take whatever it takes to ease your pain. I found anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants to be most helpful during the intensely painful period.

      All the best to you, Genesis.


      • Genesis Says:

        Thank you Beth for the kind words and well wishes. 8 weeks later and all is healed. I thought I’d never get through it. I had to continue to work 50 hours a week during this process so I believe it took a little longer for me to heal. But now I have no pain at all. So thankful that it is finally over. Best wishes to you and thank you again.

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Oh Genesis…I am so glad! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know. I often think of the people who have commented and wonder how they’re doing, so it’s really nice that you took the time to let me know. Also, perhaps your posting this will give hope to other people who find their way to this post because of pain. The pain, as awful as it is at first, almost always does get better.

        Thanks again for letting me know. Have a joyful holiday and a blessed New Year. And remember to practice Safe Hugging! 🙂


  24. Rita Says:

    Great site to know your not alone and also have a inspire ring person praying for you. So hear goes my story my uncle passed away and the first person I see his one of the sons. Well the hug was great got harder and harder, then the pop I was surprised stood for a few minutes and nothing. Six days go by and forgot all about that hug thinking now this pain I’m having may be my heart. Burning, sharp knife pain, left arm and spin got very cold 2 hours goes by and to the clinic I go. From there my blood pressure is high doctor sends me to the hospital emerge same results high blood pressure and irregular heart beat. Until I see the Doctor he ask if I injured myself in any way I told him no he was convinced that something happen. When the doctor pressed on the area that was damaged is when it brought back the hug I received. So like many of you I’m hurting and sleeping lots. Doctors advice Advil for inflammation hot cold compress and looking at 2 day’s to a week could be longer. Now that I’m not alone I will pray that we all get better so we could hug again in no fear.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Rita,

      Thank you for your prayers! You have mine also. No, you are not alone—unfortunately, this injury is pretty common. Fortunately, though, it usually heals with no further problems. I hope that is the case with you.

      And don’t worry—you can still hug! But gently. While I do steer clear of overly enthusiastic hugs, I could never give up all those hugs that make me feel so loved.

      I wish you quick healing and freedom from pain, Rita.

      All the best,

  25. emeeoreilly Says:

    Thanks for posting this, I just had the same thing happen to me. It is so comforting to know it will heal up on its own 🙂

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi emeeoreilly,

      You’re welcome. I’m so happy that folks suffering from this find a little help here. If nothing else, they know they’re not alone.

      And, yes, thank goodness, it does heal in time, with the aid of a little medication and rest. I hope that happens quickly for you!

      Take care…thanks for commenting.

      All the best,

  26. Connie Says:

    This happened to me Friday November 22nd. My boyfriend hugged me and I heard a “pop”…today, December 3rd, i’m in more pain than ever..I have seen the Chiropractor 3 times already, the adjustments hurt so bad I cry, I see him again on Thursday…it’s unbearable at work today. Can’t take a deep breath without pain, can’t life, bend, turn steering wheel this morning killed me..cough/sneeze…out of the question…

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, God bless you, Connie…I remember that pain all too well! I am so sorry.

      I know it’s hard to believe when you’re hurting so badly, but it really does get better in time. I do hope the chiropractor is helping and that you will soon be free of pain. My heart goes out to you. I’m saying a prayer for you even as I write this.

      Take care of yourself—-may you heal well and soon!

      All the best,

  27. Bridget Says:

    Another “bear hug” victim here! On December 28, a good friend of mine gave me an over-enthusiastic hug, and we heard the “pop” of my rib. Scared both of us, but especially me since the pain set in right away. I have been icing the area every night but the pain is still there and also in my left shoulder.
    All of the posts here have been very helpful, since I have an aversion to running to the doctors, or going to the ER. And I feel much better hearing that it’s not unusual for the pain to linger for weeks or even months. Advil definitely helps with the inflammation, and I am a chiropractic patient; I go to my chiropractor every week for adjustment, and I can’t wait to see him this week!
    Thank you all for the great info!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Bridget. I’m so sorry to hear that the “bear hug” has claimed another victim. 😦 But happy to hear that you’ve found the information here helpful and encouraging! Yes, ibuprofen was definitely my best friend after my injury, as was ice and rest. Later on, I found heat quite comforting and relaxing. I’m sure you’ll find the chiropractor helpful, too.

      By the way, I understand your doctor (and ER) aversion as I have the same. May you soon have relief from your pain and rapid and complete healing. I’m saying a prayer for you right now. Take care of yourself!

      All the best,

  28. Nichole Nelson Says:

    Im so glad to have found this! After visiting my brother whos been gone for over a year he bear hugged me. I dont remember hearing a pop but instantly I felt like someone had stabbed me, or like my insides exploded lol almost bought me to tears and had to grab the counter…. scared the crap outta him and he asked if I was okay. After about 10min the pain lessened but now im having pain in my left arm and hurts to breathe to deep…. its good to know its nothing too serious. Still sucks tho, hopefully it heals quick. Thanks so much for the post.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Nichole! Yep, I’ve got to agree with you—it does suck! It’s just such a shock that one bear hug can cause so much pain. The good news is that it usually eases with time, rest, and lots of ibuprofen. I do hope and pray that you heal quickly and well. I’m glad you got to see your brother though—I know you must have been happy to be with him after such a long time.

      I’ll say a special prayer for your healing, as I do for everyone who comments here. I’ll never forget how much I hurt after my injury. I hope you are soon free of pain.

      All the best to you (and your brother),

  29. Anne Says:

    I recently was “bear hugged” ….lifted off the ground by my brother in law. I heard like a crack” and kinda reached for a table. It was sore but nothing like the following evening. Ten days later and I’m able to take deep breaths finally without always having to concentrate hard to do it and it’s sore but not that agonizing pain. My back gets tight across where his arms went when I stand too long or do too much but I’m so thankful for the healing finally starting.
    I went to the E.R. five days after seeing my doctor due to the inability to take deep breaths and pain that felt like a pole was sticking out both my chest and back. Scariest visit ever!!@#!!
    I do not believe they took the situation seriously. The ER doctor said he’d never heard of such a “story”. He orders cat scan and ultrasound and his final diagnosis????? My liver is inflamed and my Wbc was 15 and that was causing my issues!! He tells me to see someone about possible liver disease due to inflammation@!@@#@
    Scared me half to death. He said a bear hug would not inflame my liver or raise my Wbc … :O
    For those who’ve gotten their yolks are not alone.. bear hugs can cause inflammation and make it hard to take deep breaths. It may take a bit but it does heal.
    Sideways hugs only for me!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Anne,

      I’m so sorry you were a bear hug victim, too, but happy to hear that things are healing so quickly! It really is shocking just how much it hurts, and I have found that very few doctors seem to have any understanding of this injury, even though I think it’s far more common than we think. Even a physical therapist I talked to recently looked dubious when I described it. Chiropractors seem to be the only medical professionals that take it seriously.

      I hope you continue to heal quickly and well and have no lingering pain from your experience. And, yes…sideways hugs are a great idea! I always practice safe hugging now. 🙂

      Take care and best wishes to you!


    • Anne Says:

      I had the awful bear hug two weeks ago. My back pain is better and I’m back to work although my liver area is sore and I am currently following my doctor’s orders to stop taking my cholesterol medication due to Wbc being 16. I had to endure an e.r. doctor and his seemingly disbelief a hug caused the back and breathing issues. Cat scan, ultrasound..left me with a diagnosis of liver inflammation and the testing for Hepatitis!!!! Now that all the bloodwork shows nothing they think it’s my cholesterol medicine and Ihave to wait for yet more bloodwork to see if not taking medicine for a week will fix Wbc all the while I’m sore and obsessing on liver area discomfort that I did not have before that awful hug and probably didn’t feel as much before because my back and breathing in deep breaths was so pronounced. This is hell.
      They really can scare you because they totally do not understand the pain from a bear hug if nothing is broken.

  30. c rockehorse Says:

    So glad i found this! This is the 2nd time a hug has caused severe pain last time in a downward direction/this time up to my lateral chest and i can actually locate a ceertain painful point! I am a nurse but have never heard of this! Was worried it was a collapsed lung or something but i can breathe! But do have the deep breath issue/and pain lowering a window or picking up a gallon of water!becoming L handed!THANKS!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, c rockehorse,

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this for the second time! It’s a shame that hugs can be so hazardous, but the good news is that, in time, this almost always heals. As I mentioned above, ibuprofen has, for me, been the most effective at reducing the inflammation and pain. And, of course, avoiding for a while the activities that make it worse.

      I do hope that you soon feel better and free from pain. Prayers and good thoughts for your healing.

      All the best,

  31. J. Schuster Says:

    BEAR HUG becoming hard to BARE…. OUCH! Who ever thought a bear hug could become so grizzly..,..uh, maybe that’s why they call it that! Same thing… A BIG Grizzly hug from my teddy bear… Lifting me off my feet when I too felt/heard the pop/crunch…it wasn’t that bad at first…I went to work and served food all night long without taking any kind of medicine… N it wasn’t so bad… Only real pain i had was getting in n out of my car… And leaning forward…But day 2… woke up in a little more pain… Did some life housework n grocery shopping only having slight pain loading/unloading the heavy bags…. Then day 3.,. woke up with moderate pain… complaining often…. N i had lots to do being Christmas is almost here… Did some last minute shopping in which I had to carry my sleeping toddler ( only 20lbs)…. though carried her quite some distance… The pain is now severe… Can feel it in my arm, shoulder, neck, & back too….. have taken 400mg ibufrofen though to my surprise it brought NO RELIEF…n I RARELY take pain medication as I want it to work such times as this when I am in such excruciating pain! I still have to waitress as I’m a single mom of 3…y me?? I guess that’s why they DON’T call them BUNNY hugs!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, J. Schuster…my heart goes out to you! Even now, over seven years later, I remember the terrible pain I had. It hurt so badly I honestly could not imagine that it would EVER feel better. But it does get better. You may temporarily need something stronger than ibuprofen for the pain, so you might want to see a doctor (you can still work while taking most pain medicines—I did). The ibuprofen does reduce inflammation, so it might be good to keep taking it. Heat also helps it feel better—I highly recommend it.

      It really does get better with time. Mine did take quite a while, but it gradually healed. I pray that yours will heal quickly—it’s especially hard when you lead such a busy life. God bless you—you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      All the best,

  32. slooney421 Says:

    Same thing happened to me last Sunday. Big bear hug from a friend & it felt like 3 little miniature water balloons burst between my breast & my underarm.
    The 1st few days were painful but it seems to be getting worse.
    I have implants & was afraid that he had burst one but they seem fine….but the only time it feels better is when I lean forward & take the pressure off.
    I’d love to know how long these injuries take to heal

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      I’m so sorry this happened to you, slooney421. It really is unbelievable how painful this injury can be—I’ll never forget it. But it really does almost always get better! How long seems to vary. Quite honestly, it took me several months, but I think most people get better in weeks, probably some even in days. I do highly recommend ibuprofen because it seems to best reduce the inflammation that causes the pain—it really was my wonder drug. Also, muscle relaxants can help. And my microwave heating pad was my best friend through those difficult weeks of pain.

      You will be in my thoughts and prayers—I do hope you will have rapid and complete healing.

      All the best,

  33. Bernice Says:

    I am a senior. My boyfriend hugged me so hard that I heard “popping.” First I thought that he broke my ribs. Then I thought that maybe my under wire bra was popping. However, I had no problems breathing, so I just let the pain go away on its own. The pain has gone away after 2 months. I was so glad to read all the posts here, and I am glad that I chose not to go to a doctor. It was difficult to do exercises. Now, I am back to exercising with my push ups and twists. Thank you to all of you who took the time to share your experiences and solutions to this “hugging” problem.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Bernice. I’m really glad to hear that your bear hug injury healed so well and so quickly! Thank you for coming back to comment—I know your words give hope to those who are presently in pain, knowing that they, too, will likely soon feel much better. I hope you continue to do well and thrive.

      All the best,

  34. kourtnee Says:

    i hurt my upper chest/ribs and under my armpit aches so bad, its been 5days and it feels like its worse. I slipped and landed on a chunck of ice to the chest it wasnt so bad at first but i have a high pain tollerance i can barely cough or breath deep now…and lift my arm n walkin fast is so painful i am thinking of going to a doctor

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Kourtnee. Oh gosh, that sounds so painful! I’m very sorry that happened to you. I also have a high pain tolerance, but my rib injury was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. I think it might be a good idea for you to go to the doctor since it sounds like there’s a possibility you may have broken a rib. In my case, it was a bear hug, but with you having a chunk of ice to your chest, it seems more probable that there could be something broken. Meanwhile, perhaps ibuprofen would help to at least reduce some inflammation.

      I’ll say prayers for you and hope you’ll heal quickly and well.

      All the best,

  35. Pat Says:

    I am SHOCKED to see that there are “many” people having this problem…I have had this happen to me about 6 times now, all but one, from “hugs” the other from someone trying to pop my back..I have not been able to find answers anywhere…I am so glad to have found this forum…I am going through it right now, from me squeezing my sons back for him.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Pat. I am so sorry you’re going through this pain yet again, but glad you’ve found this blog post. I hope you have found something of value here that might help to ease your pain and discomfort.

      God bless you—prayers for your quick healing!

      All the best,

      • Pat Says:

        Beth, I am very thankful for this page, the ibuprofen are working wonders!!!! I am just so worried now that everytime I move or hug someone its going to happen again 😦

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Pat, I’m so glad the ibuprofen is helping! It was and continues to be my wonder drug. And I completely understand your fears. When you have that sort of pain and it finally gets better, you’re terrified of anything that might bring it back. I’ve worked on teaching my friends and family “safe” hugging, but sometimes my more exuberant loved ones will still forget themselves and grab me for a bear hug.

      I pray your healing may continue and you’ll soon be free of pain. And that all your hugs will be gentle!

      All the best,

      • Mary Smith Says:

        Yes, we come from a long line of bear huggers, and I am on the couch now after a week of the same symptoms as everyone else. Going to put some heat, take Aleve, and put no strain on my left side. Just pray it goes away soon.

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi there, Mary. Ah, yes…a family of exuberant bear huggers here, too! I’m so sorry that you are in such pain—I know it is really miserable. You’re on the right track, though, with the Aleve, heat, and rest. I will pray for your quick recovery, healing, and relief from pain.

        Take care—hope you feel better soon.

        All the best,

  36. acworthpeach Says:

    This is so funny because I was hugged hard in church by a man in my Sunday school class & I yelled, “OUCH!!!” I still can’t believe he hugged me that hard as I hardly even know him & it was really just a friendly hug as we were walking down the hall. I feel weird telling anyone about it, but I was in pain for about 6 weeks, hardly able to turn over in bed.
    It did heal somewhat & then I reached over my console in my car to pick up something from the other side & I did the same thing to myself. Ugh!! So, here I am, back in the same situation & misery. I wonder if my chiropractor could make the pain dissolve quicker. I must be prone to injury in that area now. Frustrating. I just had to share with you.
    Blessings 🙂

    • Pat Says:

      I thought the chiropractor could help too 😦 explained everything and everytime it happened to me…all was going well….until..I was laying flat on my back, he twisted my left leg over towards the right leg, and gave a little “jerk” popping my back oh so awesome…except it also popped that bear hugging whatever it is…too..he immediately did an x-ray, and found nothing!!!! He said it definitely is not bone..and he had never seen this before…I was in so much pain, I was unable to finish my session with if you try yours, I hope it helps and maybe one day we can figure out WHY it does this..mine has happened in other places, all around the rib cage..could be on either side..and has been lower than my chest area..

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Susan. I am so sorry you are suffering from such pain again. I can definitely attest to how much it hurts. Interestingly, I had almost exactly the same re-injury as you in the year after my initial injury. I was feeling dandy when I simply leaned over to unlock our truck door for my husband and immediately felt the shock of that horrible pain. So I took the usual maximum dose of Ibuprofen and moved very, very cautiously for about a month, and it again, thankfully, went away. In the years since, I’ve had it happen again a few more times (once when I leaned into our car trunk to pull out something heavy), but the good news it that it went away more quickly all those times than it did the very first time. And now, I simply avoid the particular motions that seem to irritate my ribs, and I haven’t had any severe pain there for quite a long time.

      I will say prayers for your quick and complete healing—my heart goes out to all my fellow bear-hug victims. It really does hurt, and I’m sorry.

      Blessings to you too, Susan!

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi, Pat. Ugh…I’m so sorry that you had such a painful experience at the chiropractor. I didn’t go to a chiropractor for this injury, but I’ve heard from several people who did and were helped. Quite honestly, I didn’t go because I was actually afraid of that very thing—that it might be made worse. After my injury, I noticed that even simple movements irritated my ribs, so I really didn’t even want to be touched. From what I understand, it’s common for it not to show up on X-rays, which is one reason doctors don’t seem to take it very seriously, which is why I never went to a doctor.

        One thing I wanted to mention is that I also have had the pains all over my rib area. The weirdest thing is that with the initial injury, I went to bed with the original side hurting, then woke up with the exact same pain on the other side! I couldn’t believe it! I’m not a medical professional, but I assume this happens because your nerves are being impinged and the nerve pain transfers all over the place since everything is connected.

        Anyway, I am really sorry you are still hurting so. I will say prayers for you. I do hope that your pain resolves quickly and never returns!

        All the best,

  37. Kristin Says:

    So happy to find this site too. Last Sunday got a big hug from a new man I am interested in and hear a pop as he lifted me off the ground. I’ve been sore around my heart ever since. Will take Ibuprofen and be patient now that I know I’m in good company!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Kristin,

      You are indeed in good company…anyone who has had this injury can definitely relate to just how much it hurts. I am so sorry you’ve joined us, but glad you’ve found help here.

      Prayers for your healing—I do hope you heal quickly and well. Be gentle with yourself. And make sure your new friend hugs you tenderly for a while. 🙂 God bless you!

      All the best,

  38. Ash Says:

    I’m in an abusive relationship and last night he squeezed me so tight same thing happened. Hurts baddd

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Ash,

      I am so sorry that you are in such pain. If you were squeezed in a violent way, you may have broken ribs and need to see a doctor, so I would recommend that you go to the nearest hospital emergency room. They will also be able to help you find safety, help, and support if you tell them what happened.

      You can also go to this site:
      There’s a number there to call: 1-800-799-7233. They can help you—please call.

      Please know that you are not alone—there is a lot of help and support out there.

      I will say prayers for your healing and well-being. God bless you, Ash.

      All the best,

  39. Tricia Stanley Says:

    I had the exact same thing happen. I went to 3 doctors and they all said the same thing. I tore tissue. I had to take naproxen for inflammation. I’m still on it off and on. It’s important to keep the inflammation away from your heart. I’m just like you with meds.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Tricia,

      I’m sorry you’ve joined the painful ribs club, but glad you found us here! I’m also glad you found something that helped your pain. Naproxen is actually better for your heart than ibuprofen, I believe. That is really interesting about the inflammation affecting your heart—I never knew that. I still take my ibuprofen, too—it is my wonder drug, but I try to take as little as I can. I’ve recently discovered that ginger seems to help my pain a bit, too. It certainly can’t hurt, right?

      I will say a prayer for your complete healing. Take care, and thanks for commenting!

      All the best,

  40. Kathy Says:

    While at work, a co worker was happy when I fixed a computer problem for him…in his enthusiasm, he bear hugged me. I felt a popping, stabbing pain, near my underarm, left breast..I thought my underwire bra snapped..but it didn’t. The pain buckled my knees. I went to orthopedic broken ribs. But pain persists..Dr gave me muscle relaxer, pain meds, and anti inflammatory..a week later, no relief. A search of symptoms brought me to this sight..maybe I have the same ailment. Deep breaths are ok…but if I try to push anything, it aggravates my side..what else, besides rest, ibuprofen, heat, can I try..I’m getting desperate and it’s only been 9 days…

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Kathy,

      I am so sorry you are in such pain still—I can completely understand your sense of desperation. This injury really can be very painful, and unfortunately, it can also take a long time to resolve. Mine did. After a month of maximum anti-inflammatories, heat, and rest, my pain finally began to ease a bit. But, honestly, it took months before I began to feel like my old self again. If you read the comments here, you’ll see that some folks got relief from chiropractic treatment—I don’t know if that’s something you’d want to try. I didn’t—couldn’t stand the thought of anyone moving me about. Even simple movements hurt, as you well know.

      I wish I could tell you something more helpful, but, for me, just continuing to take the ibuprofen, using heat, being very, very gentle with myself—-and time—- are what finally seemed to make the difference. If things don’t get better in the next week, perhaps it would be good to call the orthopedist back. Maybe he/she could refer you to a good physical therapist—some have been helped that way. I have found that most medical doctors don’t seem to take this very seriously or truly comprehend just how painful and life-limiting it can be. But many of us who’ve experienced it know better.

      Anyway, please do know that I’ve said a prayer for your complete (and hopefully quick!) healing and the easing of your pain. My heart goes out to you.

      All the best,

  41. kathy33p Says:

    Thank you so much for your positive thoughts, Beth…one day, I thought I was getting better, just to remind me, the next day, that the pain is still with me…Kathy.

  42. kathy33p Says:

    Has anyone here had an MRI done?

  43. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    8 years ago you posted this. So strange. I felt so much compassion for you, and am no stranger to pain . I hope you are well and very happy. Bty it was not boring. You are a lovely write, and articulate in how you explained your situation. I found you because last evening my husband gave me a big old hug and we heard a loud pop in my left breast. Pain this am. This too shall pass . God bless. Hope you are still hugging.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Marsha. Thank you so much for your kind words and compassion. We’ve had a few difficulties in the 8 years since I wrote this, but are still thankful to be able to get up in the morning and watch the sun rise over the mountains. And, yes! we are still hugging. Very gently, though. 🙂

      I’m very sorry that you’re in such pain, but glad you found this post. As you’ve probably read, for most of us, with rest, heat, ibuprofen, and time, the pain gradually gets better. For me, it took months; for most, I think, it gets better in days to weeks. I hope that is the case with you.

      I’m sorry, too, that you’ve known chronic pain. That is so very difficult. Constant pain is exhausting. I will say prayers for you, as I do everyone who comments, for the easing of your pain and the healing of all injury.

      God bless you, too, Marsha. Gentle hugs and all the best to you.


  44. Amanda Says:

    This is a relief to find. I have been so worried. My boyfriend gave me a hug while lying in bed. Im hard of hearing so I didn’t hear any pops. But I have been telling him for the last week 1/2, it feels like he popped my lower left breast. I currently have been stating that Im done with doctors (Ive had a lot of medical issues in the last year and no ‘cures.’) Between medical bills piling up and my increasingly distrust of doctors, I refuse to go see one. Seems like they can’t do anything for this sort of thing anyways. I can’t take IB profen because it makes me sick to my stomach and gives me hot flashes. So I think I just have to wait it out. Im a stomach sleeper and can’t sleep on my stomach, it hurts when I ‘cave’ my chest, try to get up out of bed, breathing… And omg coughing. Last night I took a medicine for migraines which made me vomit (I never vomit.) I think thats why Im more sore today. Guess I just need to take it easy. Great.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Amanda,

      I am so sorry that you are in such pain. Though it’s been a few years since my injury, I’ll never forget how intense the pain was. I’m also sorry that you can’t take ibuprofen, as I think it was a big help to both ease pain and heal my injury. I don’t know if you can take aspirin or Excedrin, but those were also helpful to me. There are also natural things you can take. I know of someone who also can’t take ibuprofen, and she has gotten relief from something called Boswellia (any natural foods store would have it). Also, try Googling “natural remedies to reduce inflammation.” That will give you some other ideas that might help.

      I completely understand how you feel about doctors—I sort of feel the same way. But I would suggest, if you don’t start feeling better, that you might want to make sure you didn’t break a rib. The pain is very similar to the “slipped rib.”

      I’ll say a prayer for the easing of your pain and rapid healing. Do try to rest that rib as much as possible and, of course, avoid doing anything that makes it hurt worse. You are absolutely right about coughing—it was excruciating after this injury. I’m sorry you are suffering so!

      God bless you, Amanda.

      All the best,

  45. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    I am so sorry you are in such pain. I understand because a week ago my husband was giving me a big hug, and we both heard a loud pop…right under left breast. Hurts worse now, and there really isn’t too much comfort without pain. So many people responded to you. Feel the love as that always helps. Try tol limit carrying anything. I put a soft pillow next to me, beating my breast and relaxing the area.
    When u breathe make it mindful, concentrating on oxygen going to that area to help healing will. Also once
    in a while caress area turn head to right or left, and cough. Do not wrap area. Old school and many times it is worse to wrap. Lastly, pray a lot. Think, I am better and better, and dismiss negative pain reactions. It will heal with time…be patient and take good care of you. I send love and blessings!

  46. Lisa Peacock Says:

    Im glad I found this website…….it gives me a little understanding. I too had given a hug this past Friday and felt a snap and pain in myupper right chest. I am still dealing with pain….not constant but when I move around. Ive used pain cream and have reported to using a pain pill tonight. I don’t like to take pain medication as I am in recovery. I have a friend who works in the ER and had texted her if this was possible. I guess this is something that will take time to heal.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Lisa. I am very sorry for your pain—I remember well how intense it is. I can understand you wanting to avoid major pain medications, but there’s no reason you can’t take ibuprofen, which is what helped me the most. Also, there is a natural herbal medication called valerian root that was helpful—it is a muscle relaxant and was quite effective for me.

      You are right that this injury takes a while to heal, but some folks have gotten relief in just a week or two. I pray that you will be one of the lucky ones and will soon be free of pain. I will say a prayer for both your physical healing and for your path to recovery. God bless you, Lisa.

      All the best,

      • kathy33p Says:

        Hi. I, too experienced incredible pain after receiving a bear hug. I felt a snap(thought it was my underwire ), and a sharp pain in my left side. It took a few
        Weeks, and some pain medication, but thankfully ,all is well, now.

      • Nancy Says:

        Hi Beth,
        Thank you for this post! I can’t believe your original post was so long ago but you are still getting fellow victims. My injury was a little different in that I did it to myself–didn’t even get a hug! I was leaning over to clean something on the floor just out of my reach. I must have pressed my chest against the padded chair arm just a little too hard. POP!! Pain! Fan belt just like you said.

        My son and husband came home and I told them I threw out my boob. It scares me a little that what I thought was a minor injury could get worse and last for months but at least I am in good company!

        Thanks again,


      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi there Nancy,

        I am so sorry you are having such pain, but glad you found help here on my long-ago post! It’s very gratifying to know that this post is still helpful to folks, and I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

        One thing I do want to reiterate is that many people with this injury get better very quickly, so don’t despair! One thing I wish is that I had taken ibuprofen immediately after my injury instead of going with mostly natural remedies. They certainly have their place, but I think there is nothing better than ibuprofen for reducing inflammation quickly.

        It’s interesting to me how you sustained your injury because I have found that leaning over in that way (especially if I have something heavy in my hands) sometimes tends to irritate my old injury. I leaned far over just to put something in our car trunk the other day and felt that familiar unwelcome twinge. So along with avoiding big hearty bear hugs, I try to avoid that kind of position, if I can.

        Anyway, I truly feel your pain and will pray for your rapid and complete healing. I really do think that most folks get better quickly. Here’s hoping you’ll be one of them!

        Thanks again for commenting.

        All the best,

      • Pat Says:

        I just did the same thing this evening, there was a piece of paper in the floor, I bent over the arm of the chair and huge POP..I have been home already after losing my job due to an illness, I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver non-alcholic, one of the symptoms for me is a lot of swelling, so right now I have around 50-60 lbs fluid and most of that swelling is in my stomach, legs and ankles, so already pretty miserable then this happened..just not sure how much more I can take

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Dear Pat,

        I am so sorry you had this happen, especially on top of all the other difficulties you’re facing. My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how painful it must be with the fluid already present.

        I wonder if perhaps it would be a good idea to call your doctor. I’m not a medical person, but I think there’s a way to drain some of that fluid to relieve some of your discomfort. Also, the doctor could advise you as to the best medication to take. I’m not sure ibuprofen is advised when you have liver problems, but I’m sure there is something they could give you to help your pain.

        I will be thinking of you and will say prayers for your healing. I know how hard it is to remain hopeful when you have so many hard things to face. God bless you, Pat.

        All the best,

      • Pat Says:

        Thanks Beth, unfortunately the fluid is in the tissue and cannot be drained, I take 80mg water pills twice a day..I am going back to my Dr, most likely will have to be admitted to the hospital again..and as far as the Ibuprofen, I knew better to take it, so I just did with out..

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi Pat…I am so very sorry. That really sucks. I do hope that the water pills are of some help, and I hope that if you have to go back into the hospital that they’ll be able to relieve your pain.

        I wish I could be of more help. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and will ask for healing and relief from pain.

        All the best,

      • Pat Says:

        Thank you Beth, I will take all the prayers I can get 🙂

  47. Lisa Says:

    I have had this pain. Kept getting worse after 2 wks. Someone told me dislocated ribs go to cyropractor. He fixed me right up. All better now.

    • Nancy Says:

      Hi Beth,

      Thank you. It is very nice to know I’m not alone! I don’t like to go to the doctor so ibuprofen it is.


  48. BarbaraBasso Says:

    I was squeezed so hard on the right side that i heard something pop. I’m sure it was my rib as my chest only on right side and my right arm as when i get up, reach, bend down or any type of pressure its hurts bad. It hurts when i sneeze or cough also. I’ll be calling the sr if it persists for another few days. As I’m typing it hurts on the right side.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m so sorry that you’re having such pain. I remember that I also had a good bit of pain with almost any movement, and I also remember that it hurt a lot! The good news is, with time, that it almost always gets better. I think one of the reasons it hurts so much is that the nerves get compressed and irritated, which makes it hurt in places other than your rib area.

      If it doesn’t get better, a visit to the doctor might be a good idea. Rest and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen are what helped me most, but a doctor would be able to make certain you don’t have a broken rib.

      Here’s hoping you have a quick recovery and will soon be free of pain! I’ll say a prayer that that you may soon feel better.

      All the best,

  49. Jane Read Says:

    I have exactly the same issues and my google searched tell me it is MS !!!!! Hopefully not but what you describe dropping rib thing sounds more feasible I have an aversion to anyone touching me lol so don’t want an operation but this thing I have a week or more very painful and debilitating stabbing pain at any time catches me by surprise people think I’m dying pain so bad …. I’m going to do research on falling rib syndrome now … Relief xx

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Jane,

      It can really scare the heck out of you when you google symptoms, can’t it? I had someone tell me once, “Don’t listen to Dr. Google—he’s a quack!” It does seem pretty unlikely that rib pain would indicate MS, but if you feel uncertain, it wouldn’t hurt to go to a doctor.

      The pain you’re describing, however, DOES sound very much like the slipping rib syndrome. It is one of the worst pains I ever had…and I am pretty stoical about pain.

      I’m so sorry you’re suffering such pain, but the good news is that, with time, rest, and some sort of anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, it usually does get a lot better. I hope that is the case for you.

      I will say prayers for your healing. I hope that you soon have relief and freedom from pain. My heart goes out to you.

      All the best,


  50. Jean Says:

    I have read every post and every comment. I found this to be very interesting , as I too was hugged by my loving adult son 4 days ago.
    I totally empathize with everyone who has endured this pain. Also to those who have gone to the doctor for multiple tests to no avail or to be scared to death, by the news of everything it could be or what they think it might be.
    When it happened I heard and felt the pop and jokingly said that I was light-headed or seeing Stars, although I was. He continued to sort of hold me up and and asked me to sit down. I said that it was okay and for him to squeeze me again, Lower as he has done in the past to relieve pressure like a chiropractor might do. I sort of played it off so that he wouldn’t be scared along with my husband who was there. Anyway it has been 4 days and the pain is just as described here by others. I was beginning to worry about it and considered going to the doctor. After reading all of these posts I have decided that I will not go to the doctor and will treat it on my own. It seems that most of these injuries are on the left side, I only saw one comment about it being on the right side. So I guess I’m going to keep this to myself and not tell my son or my husband because they will both be worried to pieces. I just told my husband I was researching pain in my lower back and said I felt like I bruised my chest. He immediately started asking questions, along with many suggestions of what could have caused it and who I should see for it, and so on. I have also noticed since this happened that my lower back tends to be much more sensitive which I often have lower back pains anyway but they seem to be more severe.
    I would not have considered this to be boring or whiney at all.
    I’m not going to tell them what truly happened because as much pain as I’m in, I wouldn’t trade those fantastic hugs from my only child for anything. I’ll just request a gentler squeeze in the future. This has been enlightening.

    • Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

      I concur your decision to keep to yourself. Gentler hugs positive!
      God bless and help you!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hello there, Jean,

      I’m so sorry you’ve joined our ranks, but glad you found us and happy that this post and all the good comments have helped you.

      For me, rest, anti-inflammatories, and time brought about eventual healing. I hope it helps you, as well. Gentle heat applied to the area also felt soothing.

      And yes, you can certainly still enjoy all those wonderful hugs! I think a loving touch is essential to our healing and well being—I couldn’t live without it.

      I will say prayers for your healing and for relief from pain. Blessings to you and your family.

      All the best,

      • Jean Says:

        Hi Beth,
        Thank you for the prayers and well wishes you are so kind. I will come back in a few weeks to a month and let you all know how the recovering has been.
        My son did come over just as I was finishing this message and I did tell him about what happened and he “air” hugged me and kissed me goodbye. I told him I was looking forward to his gentle and embrace in the near future.

  51. Debbie Nickels Says:

    I am thankful for this site! My husband gave me a big ol’ hug about 9 days ago and I felt and heard a popping sound in my left breast. He felt it too and jumped back. It hurt pretty bad but I thought not bad enough to be broken ribs. It got a little better this past week, but now seems worse. We are camping in the mountains but as soon as we get to a drug store I’ll get some Ibuprofen or Aleve. (We have Ibuprofen but I see that it’s expired). Thanks again for this informative site. It’s nice to know that I’ll be ok, however I am shying away from hugs! 😥

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Debbie,

      I am very sorry you are in such pain. Yes, there certainly seem to be quite a few of us bear hug victims out there, but the good news is that, in most cases, it will get better very soon. I sure hope this hasn’t ruined your camping trip! I think it’s especially hard to be in pain when you don’t have the comforts of home around you.

      Here’s hoping you feel better very soon. I’m saying prayers for you right now for your healing and easing of pain.

      And don’t worry…you don’t have to shy away from hugs forever! I still hug plenty—just more gently now. 🙂

      All the best,

      • Debbie Says:

        Hi Beth,

        Thank you for your prayers! I know I will feel better in time. My husband feels guilty about hugging me too hard. But I showed him this site and how common this is (unfortunately) and I think he feels better about it now. I’ll let you know how I feel in a couple of weeks. Thanks for all your advice!

      • Debbie Says:

        I went to my doctor this past week and told her what happened when my husband hugged me. She said the popping sound was cartilage breaking away from my sternum from too much pressure on my rib cage. This is the same thing that happens during CPR only much worse. She said it will continue to heal on its own. I hardly have any pain now, just occasionally when I sneeze. Good info, but I can do without this in the future! Only gentle hugs for me from here on out!

  52. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Hi there, Debbie,

    I am so glad to hear that you’re feeling better so quickly! I know that will be encouraging to any newly-injured folks who find their way to this post. Thank you for coming back to let us know.

    I’m glad to hear, too, that you’re not giving up on hugs. These days, I think we need them more than ever. Gentle, tender hugs, that is.

    Happy hugging!

    All the best,

  53. Melissa Says:

    I’m here to report that this CAN happen to a man, also! My thin husband was enthusiastically hugged by a much-larger male friend last night, and heard the pop, and immediately felt the pain, which hasn’t gone away. His friends were all calling him a wimp, and disbelieving that this was a real injury. Thanks for the tips here on dealing with the pain, and the reassurance that it will heal eventually.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Melissa,

      I am so sorry to have missed your note earlier! I know my response is awfully late, but I wanted to send my best wishes anyway!

      Hopefully, by now, your husband is completely healed. I think if his guy friends could have felt even a few minutes of the agony of this injury, they wouldn’t be so quick with the “wimp” talk. Geez. Seriously, other than childbirth, that was the worst pain I have ever had. Thank God for ibuprofen. And for microwavable warming pads.

      I don’t know if you’ll even see this at this late date, but I will say a prayer for healing for your husband. Thank you very much for commenting. Sending good wishes for complete healing and relief from pain his way…

      All the best,

  54. Katherine Glass Says:

    Hi Blue Ridge,
    it’s 9 yeats since your post, but it’s the first link I clicked on in search of some kind of answer for why my rib cage on the right side is in its fourth episode of this situation you speak of. It happened when I was seat-belted into an airplane seat reaching down below the seat in front of me over the seat belt to get something my ribs made this weird rolling over each other sound and then there was terrible pain. it happened again a few months later in another situation and then again another time and now a couple of Sundays ago I was given a hug and the same experience you had when Janet hugged you.
    I have been to my primary care physician twice with those injuries saying it was costochondritis he says know your rib is impinging on the nerve and it’s causing a neuropathy or nerve pain of a main nerve and there’s nothing to do but wait for it to heal and take Ibuprofen strong 800 milligrams every day.
    well as you know this pain is intense and I have combined Ibuprofen with Vicodin I’ve tried Tylenol I’ve tried everything it’s finally subsiding now but I’m curious what you ended up doing and if you still have the issue all these years later? I have had an x-ray of my upper thoracic spine nothing there to speak of showed up I’m about to get another x-ray of my entire rib cage also while standing up because a physical therapist wants to see how the alignment in my ribs are. The next step would be an MRI to look at the ligaments and see why my ribs seems to slip I’m going to now Google slippery rib or whatever you called it and see what I can find.
    I don’t know if you will even see this all these years later but if you do I would love a response. Hoping you are better!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Katherine,

      My heart goes out to you—I still recall so well how painful this particular injury is! I’m so glad to hear that it’s finally subsiding and hope that it is gone for good this time.

      To answer your question: Thankfully, no…nine years later I can say, with gratitude, that I have not had any episodes of the severe rib pain in a very long time. I will say however that I did have several episodes over the first year I was injured. My ribs would improve, then I’d do something simple like lean over to unlock the truck door for my husband only to feel that unwelcome but familiar horrible pain return. It was very frustrating and discouraging, but I gradually learned to avoid all the triggers that brought it on and I think that has helped. I did have a bit of trouble after my double mastectomy (for breast cancer) three years ago, but I think that was just the irritation from various nerves being traumatized. I’m fine now…or at least, my ribs are!

      So, there is hope! I know when you’re hurting it seems like forever, but I really do think that in almost every case, it eventually DOES heal, even if it does take a while (in my case, it actually was well over a year). I have learned to move more cautiously and slowly when doing things that triggered it in the past, and that has helped a lot.

      I will say a prayer for your complete healing. I do hope that the tests you’re having will be enlightening and helpful to you. If you don’t mind, I would very much like to know what you find out from both the rib x-ray and the MRI. I’ve wondered, too, why this happens to some of us and not others.

      Wishing you good health and relief from pain…

      All the best,

    • Pat Says:

      After years of dealing with this same rib problem, the DR and I have come to the conclusion that it is a torn cartilage, which will not show up on and X-ray..and of course there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. 😦

      • Katherine Says:

        omg! How tge heck does it happen? I think in my case in 2011 I was in a head-on car accident the car was totaled the airbag deployed and I had a chest wall injury I was the passenger. Judging by the way the car looked at some miracle we walked away but it was actually didn’t feel like a very big accident I felt fine until after the endorphins wear off. But that’s where my first chest injuries initiated I believe.
        I wonder if I have torn cartilage there too.
        The pain gets so tiring.

      • Pat Says:

        Dr said its usually from an its possible for you, however, I cant recall having any injuries 😦 I am pretty sure he said it could be seen with an MRI..yes the pain does get really doesnt seem to take much anymore for mine to pop..
        Good luck to you!!!

  55. Kim Says:

    I am having the SAME problem! What did you find out?

  56. Michelle Says:

    Omg the same thing happened to me, my son hugged me to hard and now I feel pain in my left side and when I lift my arm hurst, with the pass of the days I fell like it hurst a little more, I haven’t take nothing get, let me know how are you doing

  57. Cheryle Says:

    Wow I can’t believe all the people that have responded to your post. The same crazy thing happened to me almost 3 weeks ago when my adult son was so happy to see me he hugged me and picked me up off the ground and I too heard a pop in my chest. I told him to put me down and could immediately feel it in the upper left part of my chest and by my sternum. Now it hurts me to bend over or push or pull anything or driving in a car with the bumps in the road. It seems like all I can do to get relief is to apply heat and take ibuprofen and rest. After reading everybody’s posts, I think I’ll avoid the doctor and just lay low and wait for my body to heal itself. My prayers and blessings go out to all that are suffering from bear hugs. I don’t ever want to give up hugs. Take care.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Cheryle,

      I, too, am amazed—and dismayed—by how many folks have suffered this injury. Though it has been nine years since mine, I’ll never forget how much it hurt. So my heart goes out to you and others, and I always say prayers for each of you because I believe that prayer is a powerful force. So prayers and blessings to you, too!

      I also believe that loving touch and hugs are a powerful force, so I would never give up my hugs! I just practice “safe” hugging now—where all who know me well know to hug with gentle tenderness.

      I do hope and pray that you heal quickly and completely and will soon be free of pain. All the best to you…


  58. Wendy Wagner Says:

    Same thing has happened to me. About days ago a burly male friend of mine gave me a bear hug and lifted me off the ground. I felt it instantly like something pulled. Didn’t really feel the heavy pain until next morning. It’s killing me. All your descriptions is exactly how I feel. I was thinking of seeing the doctor. I don’t have a chiropractor. But from what I hear from most of you just time and ibuprofen will do it. Dammit! I just started a workout routine too. Can’t freaking breathe heavy.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I do hope you’re feeling better by now—this injury can be so painful! I just wanted to send my best wishes and prayers for your healing. It can take a while, but it almost always does get better. I also had pain with breathing at first—that was truly awful. I couldn’t even sleep! My heart goes out to you.

      Best wishes to you—hope you’re soon back to your workout routine!

      All the best, Beth

  59. Pam Jones Says:

    After receiving a huge, strong hug that had me lifted off the ground, I felt a strange feeling on my right ribs and under the breast bone. Not really a pop but more like something had gotten caught between my ribs! It has been 11 days and still having a lot of pain upon waking, turning over in bed, lifting on the right side and bending over. Dull back pain as well. I’m taking 800 mg ibuprofen every 8 hours and heat patches for pain relief and still hurts most of the time, mainly in the sternum and ribs below right breast.
    Will be riding in a car for 3 days in about 2 weeks, so am really hoping this eases up.
    Glad I found this forum as I was getting worried that I still had this pain but so does everyone else on here!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi Pam,

      I am so sorry that you suffered this injury and that you’re still in such pain. I wanted to send you my best wishes and prayers and a bit of hope, as well! As awful as the pain is, it usually does get better with time and, in my case, ibuprofen. It took a good while with me, but I’m fine now.

      Best wishes to you for rapid healing. I sincerely hope that you’ll be pain-free for your road trip!

      All the best,

  60. Katherine Glass Says:

    Hi again folks…well, I continue to have this chronic situation not only on my right side but also on my left they alternate like seesaw it’s ridiculous. I finish with one flareup and then some simple household life style movement creates another. I am starting prolotherapy sessions on March 6 and I am very hopeful about this treatment. The cause of all this pain is inflammation of the ligaments and tissues. Chondritis is pain to the ligaments and Tissues but without inflammation. Tietze’s syndrome is with inflammation. I have also since discovered is it chronic conditions like this can also be related to autoimmune disorders laying under the surface. And those autoimmune issues can cause chronic inflammation which can lead to these situations of ribs popping out of place and sternums hurting from hugs or certain movements and strains. I highly recommend any of you on here research prolotherapy injections. They have had great success with this. It’s used for TMJ and the same problems on knees ankles and elbows necks and rib cages and low back’s. We are also suspecting in my case that I am one of the rare who have a genetic condition that doesn’t make enough collagen in my body and that’s why my ligaments and joints slipped out of place so easily. That condition is called EDS you can look it up or Elhers Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.
    Anyway the prolotherapy injections consist of glucose solution with lidocaine injected into the tissue which causes them to become a bit irritated for a few days and create their own collagen to heal and what they do is it tightens up the areas where your ribs or joints or ligaments are slipping out of place and permanently can heal them after about six sessions or so. I am very hopeful although I don’t look forward to the recovery period in between sessions because it can be A bit uncomfortable and tender. But I’m figuring nothing can be worse than this ongoing chronic pain for the rest of my life. Wish me luck!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi Katherine,

      I am so sorry that you are continuing to suffer from your injury. My heart goes out to you. I can relate, as mine hurt (in much the same way you describe) for over a year.

      I can also relate to how desperate you must feel. After my pain went on for such a long time, I also considered prolotherapy. I decided against it, in part, because it wasn’t covered by insurance. But also, I read accounts of people whose pain had gotten worse with it, and their stories made me reluctant, as well, to consider it. So I decided to give my body more time to heal itself and, in time, it did.

      In fairness, I also read of people who have been helped. So I think the main caution I would give folks is to (1) make sure it’s covered by insurance, especially if you’re of modest means (as I am) and (2) make sure you receive the treatment from a medical doctor who has experience with prolotherapy, either an M.D. or a D.O. And (3) make sure you read and educate yourself about the risks vs. benefits of prolotherapy to make sure it’s right for you.

      Anyway, best wishes and prayers to you, Katherine. I do hope you are able to find hope, healing, and relief from pain.

      All the best,

  61. Katherine Glass Says:

    Yikes…I hadn’t heard that piece. I’ll ask my Dr. About that. This particular doctor has been doing prolotherapy treatments for about 30 years. He was the head of orthopedics for the Journal of American medicine and went to Harvard etc. I have faith in him and his experience. No it is not covered by insurance. I’m just going to pay as I can. Fingers crossed!

  62. Jennifer Kauffman Says:

    This is incredible, last year almost the same identical thing happened. It has just recently resurfaced when my fiancee hugged me & cracked my back. I couldn’t believe the pain on left breast, it feels as if there is now two hard knots w sumthing sharp inside like a tiny bone. Have been to ultrasound n no answers. It’s right beside my breastplate. And when getting up after lying down it feels as if it’s in back. Shoulder has also been giving me deep trouble, I know I have rotated rib head, but confused what’s going on

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Jennifer,

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing such pain. I, too, had pain in my back after my injury. I think it may have been referred nerve pain. It took a good bit of time to resolve, but I did eventually heal with time, rest, and my old friend ibuprofen.

      I hope you’re feeling better by now. I send my prayers and best wishes that your healing and relief from pain will be swift and complete.

      All the best,

  63. Tena Adkins Says:

    My daughter was murdered by what he call a accidental bear hug that he squeezed to har ad she died. Wouldn’t she pass out first and if he let go she would come to. But she had marks on her neck and her hypoid bone was broken. And he said it was a accident

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Tena,

      I am so very sorry to hear of your daughter. I have a daughter, too, and can only imagine how devastating it must be to lose a child in this way.

      I pray that you will find justice for your daughter and will somehow be able to find a measure of peace. My heart goes out to you.

      All the best,

  64. Arfan Says:

    My friend bear hugged me so hard one night I am having simila problems all down my.leg and arm and I feel really weam I don’t know what to do what did you do ? Thank you reply bk

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hello there, Arfan,

      I am very sorry you are having such pain. I know how distressing it is to experience pain like this and not know what to do.

      Unfortunately, I have no medical background, so cannot say what might be going on. It does sound a bit like a compressed nerve, but I can’t say for sure. I think I would recommend that you go to a doctor.

      I can, however, send my prayers and best wishes to you for a quick recovery! May you soon be free of pain.

      All the best,

  65. Jered Southwick Says:

    I just had a similar experience at work I went up behind so called person and bear hugged, locked my hands pulled in and WHAP, it was a hard hit feeling ,I thought he put his shoulder blade into me but was told he did nothing , since then my one side hurts to stretch stand lay or carry or breathe

  66. Linsey Says:

    Holy shit I have the exact same thing happened to me!!! I went to the ER
    An Parent Lee I had a hiatal hernia but I got under my left rib put pressure press down and brought my stomach down it relieve whole lot of pressure in
    My chest but the pain in my left shoulder Will not subside I wonder if it is a nerve thing my buddie bear hugged me an I felt the same exact pop my is under my left armpit now An just under my shoulder blade maybe try Idk I do know it sucks An very painful like excruciating pain I think it all radiates from your neck

  67. JanAttardTeam Says:

    I have the same condition- exactly.
    For me, it Happened again last week for second or third time- I screamed when I wa hugged and it “popped”! Soreness and discomfort increases after episode. As for treatment- I have a phenomenal chiropractor located in Lakeport California who takes the popped rib and pops it back into place. I believe over many he is worth it as he is like a surgeon finding and re-inserting the rib/ very very very expert- it works! I have experienced this three different times I’m not sure the same area but totally frustrating totally
    ridiculous horrible and dibilitating to pop a rib I scream because like you said you have no idea what’s happening!!! I thank you so so much for sharing. I actually was googling to find out if somebody had something like what I experienced.

    Doctor David Jameson
    Chiropractor, Lake County, Ca 95453

  68. Linda Leslie Says:

    I had almost this same thing happen only it was me and my washing machine. I squished my breast accidentally and heard a popping sound. Now the inside of my breast hurts. What did I pop?

  69. Cynthia Joy Says:

    Hi there! Has anyone commented on this yet? I’m wondering if it ever resolved itself! I injured my ribs, years ago, when I literally slipped off the edge of my front porch when I was dumping coffee grounds out of my French press. That part of the porch is about 16-18 inches high off the ground and steps down to another porch that is lower. There is a four foot high wrought iron fence that surrounds my porch area, and when I slipped off the edge of my porch in this one area that just drops to the ground below, I made the full approx 16” descent with my right rib cage coming to a sudden rest on the top railing of that wrought iron fence!!! Not since natural childbirth had I felt that intensity of raw pain. I sounded like a wild animal screaming out, echoes bouncing off every house and pine tree for miles around my culdesac upnhere in the mountains of Northern California. This was six years ago. It hurt like hell for a good three months and then started subsiding. Everything from breathing, to sleeping, holding hands, everything. It was terrible. Flash forward to this last week when my boyfriend was playfully lifting me up in a bear hug – feet lifted off the floor. I felt something happen and told him to stop. It hurt immediately after and is seeming to get worse. As I was waking up this morning, I rolled onto my stomach and felt something seem to shift/pop and now it’s been a constant dull ache which prompted me to start reading online about broken ribs from hugs and I found this blog. I hope you are feeling better by now! I see your piece is dated back ten years. Please let us know how itvresilved itself which I hope and pray it did!

  70. Amber Murry Says:

    Please email my daughter asap

  71. FLERIDA Astacio Says:

    Please pray for my mama she is in so much pain she had back surgery a few months ago and can’t walk yet but I am hopeful that she will walk again one day soon , anyway when my dad tried to lift her from bed to recliner she complained of pain under her breast and she has pain when she breathes..she has been through so much lately, she needs all the prayers she can get, God is my only hope for full recovery.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Flerida,

      I am so sorry about your mama. I know it must be very difficult to see her suffer and to feel so helpless. Your mama is lucky to have a daughter who cares so deeply for her.

      I have prayed for your mama and will continue to do so. I believe that prayer is very powerful. I hope her pain has eased some by now; if not, you may want to call the doctor. Sometimes, nerve compression in the spine can cause referred pain in the ribs.

      Sending prayers and best wishes for your mama’s healing. God bless you all.


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