The ribs are designed to protect the lungs and heart and assist breathing. Twenty-four ribs start at the shoulders in the thoracic spine region and run down the mid-back covering the front, back, and side of the chest. Almost all ribs are attached in two places, including the spine in the back and the sternum in the front of the chest, by cartilage joints. Trauma, poor posture, intense coughing, sneezing, and heaving are a few factors that can cause mechanical rib dysfunction or rib misalignment.
Rib dysfunction and misalignment are typically caused by unhealthy postures like slumped back and rounded shoulders, weakened posterior muscles, and repetitive stress from work, sports, and intense physical activity. Any ribs can become misaligned, causing dysfunction and stress on the body. A chiropractor can adjust and reset the rib as they do for misaligned and compressed spinal joints.
Table of Contents
The ribcage is flexible and expands when inhaling. Each rib is attached to the spine by three joints in the back and the breastbone in the front. Breathing is an involuntary reflex that is impossible to avoid movement in these joints. The joints are small but allow flexing, so the ribs rise and fall with each breath. These rib joints can become inflamed from rib misalignment causing movement problems that can restrict breathing.
Rib misalignment symptoms can include:
Up to 50% of emergency room visits for chest pain symptoms result from non-cardiac factors, with the majority being rib misalignment and the muscles and joints around the rib cage becoming irritated/inflamed.
There can be several reasons for a misaligned rib. The more common causes include:
Chiropractic can diagnose and treat rib misalignment/dysfunction by using various stretching or massage techniques to loosen the area, making the muscles more flexible, then applying firm pressure to realign the rib back. The treatment plan will include specific stretches, postural exercises, diet, and other recommendations to prevent rib problems.
Flodine TE, Thomas M. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Inhaled Rib Dysfunction. [Updated 2021 Aug 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560751/
Jawed, Muzamil. and Bruno Bordoni. “Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Muscle Energy Procedure – Exhaled Ribs.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 19 February 2022.
Rib somatic dysfunction (417242001); Costal somatic dysfunction (417242001); Somatic dysfunction of rib (417242001) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/medgen/736159
Vemuri, Adithi. and Kiyomi K. Goto. “Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Counterstrain/FPR Procedure – Thoracic Vertebrae.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 15 November 2021.
The information herein on "Rib Misalignment, Dysfunction, Pain Chiropractor" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
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