What Are the Symptoms of a Displaced Rib?

Rib Out of Place

How Can I Determine If I Have a Displaced Rib?

Are you aware of rib joint restriction or subluxation? This is a common condition seen in chiropractic clinics and experienced by many individuals. People often mistakenly rush to the emergency room or consult medical doctors, fearing a heart attack or a serious chest condition. Unfortunately, they spend thousands of dollars on medical visits, diagnostic exams, and pain medications without obtaining the correct diagnosis or finding relief for their rib-related issues.

The symptoms of rib subluxation can vary from mild, dull, achy pain to severe, stabbing, sharp pain. The pain tends to intensify with deep breaths, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Rib conditions can manifest following an injury or even without any apparent cause. Postural stresses may contribute to or trigger these symptoms. Usually, a diagnosis of rib subluxation is made by a chiropractor or medical doctor.

Understanding the Anatomy

Rib Anatomy

Let’s quickly examine the anatomy involved. Each side of the body has 12 ribs, with each rib connecting to the spine through three joints. The upper 7 ribs, known as “true ribs,” attach directly to the sternum via cartilage. Ribs 8 to 10, referred to as “false ribs,” indirectly connect to the sternum through interchondral joints. Ribs 11 and 12, known as “floating ribs,” do not connect to the front at all. It’s important to note that both men and women have the same number of ribs on either side of their bodies, with no notable gender differences.

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The joints between the ribs and the spine are situated close to the intervertebral foramina, which are the openings where nerves enter and exit the spinal cord. Located directly beneath each rib is an intercostal nerve responsible for skin sensations and innervation to the parietal pleura, the tissue surrounding the lungs.

Ribs also have significant muscular attachments to the back and shoulder girdle, as well as smaller muscle attachments between them, forming intercostal muscles. These structures provide stability to the spine, protect organs, and allow for motion and expansion of the chest during breathing.

What Happens When a Rib is Displaced?

Displacement of a rib often accompanies muscle tension, with both conditions frequently coexisting. One can potentially cause the other. While pain and muscle tension may subside with time, joint restrictions or subluxations typically necessitate intervention to restore proper health and motion. When ribs don’t move correctly or are misaligned, various sensitive tissues in the body can become irritated, leading to extreme pain. Misaligned ribs can put pressure on nerves or the parietal pleura, especially during movement or breathing.

Additionally, when a rib becomes misaligned, it can cause surrounding muscles and tissues to become inflamed. Inflammation and irritation of the nerves between the ribs, which often occur due to rib subluxation, are known as intercostal neuritis or intercostal neuralgia. The condition “costochondritis” can arise when the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum becomes inflamed and irritated.

How to Address a Displaced Rib?

Dealing with a displaced rib can be a frustrating endeavor, requiring proper treatment and adequate healing. The most crucial step is to have your rib adjusted by a qualified chiropractor. This prevents further damage and inflammation. Although it may take multiple adjustments to properly realign the rib, the effort is worthwhile compared to living with a chronic rib issue.

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You can also take some steps at home to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Applying ice to the painful areas in the front and back for 20 minutes at a time, up to once every hour, can provide relief. After receiving an adjustment, consider engaging in cardiovascular exercise to prevent the tightening of rib muscles and minimize the risk of the rib “popping out” again. However, consult your chiropractor before undertaking any exercise that involves twisting or bending, as these movements can further injure the rib. Running, brisk walking, or using an elliptical machine are often helpful exercises.

There are rib braces available that provide compression and stability to the rib joint, reducing pain. These braces allow gentle movement and stretching of the rib muscles while keeping the front and back rib joints stable. Rib belts, like the one shown below, are affordable and effective in supporting rib injuries. You can find the rib brace on Amazon.com.

Stretching lightly after the rib has been correctly adjusted can also be beneficial. One excellent stretch involves placing your thumbs down and your knuckles at your temples. Press your elbows together or as close as possible in front of your chest and hold for eight seconds. Then, reverse the stretch by bringing your elbows out to the sides, still with your knuckles at your temples, and gently squeeze the shoulder blades together at your back.

Combining chiropractic care with stretching and exercises is the most effective approach to managing rib conditions. The doctors at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic offer safe and efficient care for rib complaints. If you experience back pain, pain around the rib area, or pain when breathing deeply, contact Gallatin Valley Chiropractic for a consultation, examination, and treatment. For more serious conditions requiring medical intervention, please call 911. Otherwise, your doctors at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic should be your first point of contact for rib and back pain.

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