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Squeezing of ribs while asleep
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Squeezing of ribs while asleep

Over the past decade, I've had probably less than 10 episodes of this.  I am always dead asleep, and get a very uncomfortable squeezing feeling in my ribs.  Sometimes one side, sometimes the other, sometimes both.  In my sleep I always think it's my husband's heavy arm resting on me, or my little kids' feet pushing on me when they were little and prone to coming into our bed.  It has never continued to the point that I'm fully awake and can better evaluate it, but it is extremely uncomfortable/painful, and in my sleep I am really wanting it to stop (wishing the person would get their heavy limb off me, but I don't think that's what's happening really).

I am female, 47, overweight (BMI=28), exercise regularly, and have recently adopted a mostly unprocessed plant-based diet, but before, have had a standard American diet. I've been as high as BMI = 31.  I have good cholesterol numbers, except the ratio could be better, hdl is a little low.  Blood sugar is fine.  I know I have a bunch of gallstones, and I recently have had mild reflux, I think mostly silent, and the LPR kind. Had an U/S recently that did not detect anything amiss (was focused on the gall bladder but scanned most of the upper abdomen as well). Am currently trying to lose more weight for general health and to help the HDL and reflux.

I do not feel the squeezing near my heart at all, just the ribcage.  My only guess is a gallstone passing, but the descriptions I read online are more about stabbing pain, radiating through to the back, not this squeezing, plus it's happened on either and both sides.  And it seems to happen randomly, like I said, maybe a few times a year over the past 10 years.  If I had to guess, I would say an episode lasts a matter of minutes, but since I'm always asleep, it's hard to tell.

Any ideas? What should I have checked out, if anything?
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Dear CLE2DXB,

I have gone through the details of your query.

One of the possible reasons that I can think of for your symptoms is gall stones-leading to dyspepsia, bloating and mild reflux. Being overweight can contribute to this problem. I hope that you have discussed the proper management of your gall stones with your doctor. Here are a few additional steps that may also help you:

1. Avoid taking large meals just before bed time

2. Do not go to bed for at least about 2-3 hours after dinner.

3. Continue regular exercise and diet to lose weight.

4. Avoid/reduce the intake of alcohol and carbonated drinks

Apart from this, I think you should also have a complete evaluation to rule out a cardiac problem. You can ask your doctor about a EKG (electrocardiograph).On the whole, I do not think it is something to be alarmed about, particularly since you do not experience these symptoms often. But yet, a cardiac checkup in consultation with your doctor would be wise.

Hope that this information helps and hope that you will get better soon.

Thank you for using MedHelp's "Ask an Expert" Service, where we feature some of world's renowned medical experts in their fields. Millions have benefitted from our service to get personalized advice for them and for their loved ones.

Best Regards,
Dr. Pragnesh Vachharajani
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