Tightness in back and ribs

Patient

Q: Hello, I'm a 19 year-old male around 160 pounds. I've been having a tightness in my lower back and lower left rib cage. In regards to the rib cage, it is almost a dull burning. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and GERD. I'm quite terrified that this could be a cancer of sorts, as I did smoke for about a year (I don't anymore, haven't for several months).

Symptoms:  Tightness in lower back and slight burning in lower left ribcage
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. This localized tightness, and pain may be related to your previous history of GERD. This may also be neuropathic pain relating to the nerves supplying the the intercostal muscles of the ribcage. This is called intercostal neuralgia. This can be due to strain or spasms of the intercostal muscles leading to pressure on the nerves coursing along the rib cage. It would also be remiss of us to overlook the fact that this pain may also be related to a problem with your heart. We do not want to alarm you by this and the fact that you are only 19, makes this possibility very low risk. We strongly encourage you to seek medical evaluation of this and have your doctor perform a full examination of your chest, heart and lungs to arrive at the the exact cause of your symptoms.

Thank you for consulting AskTheDoctor.com

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