Rib pain can be caused by muscle, bone and nerve issues. Two common conditions which occur to the ribs are rib fractures (typically occur due to trauma or weak bones) and slipped rib syndrome.
Are you Suffering from a Slipped Rib?
Have you ever felt a sharp pain in the upper or mid area of your back, between the shoulder blades? Moreover, have you ever experienced this sharp localized pain while taking a deep breath? Has this pain ever gone from being localized in the back to referring to the side and front aspect of the torso? These are all symptoms of what has been referred to as a ‘slipped rib’ or ‘slipped rib syndrome’.
What is a slipped rib (shoulder blade pain)?
I have experienced many patients who have come to me with these types of symptoms without knowing exactly what was going on. They explain that the pain they experience is “annoying” and “feels as if a knife is digging into their back or shoulder blade”. Whether it be by twisting, bending, lifting, getting in and out of the car, sitting at a desk all day or constant repetitive strain, slipped ribs occur and do so at a frequent rate. Often gone undiagnosed and misdiagnosed, slipped rib syndrome can be a very frustrating condition to deal with. What do you do? Before explaining what I do for patients, I will describe more about what a slipped rib is.
What is slipped rib syndrome?
Slipped rib syndrome was first described in the early 1900?s. Cases have been reported in children as young as 12 years and much higher in females than males. We have 2 sets of 12 ribs which create the rib cage. The ribs attach to each thoracic vertebrae in the back. Sometimes the ligament connection (called costovertebral/costotransverse ligaments) linking the vertebrae of the back and the rib can cause symptoms and discomfort which individuals experience. If this connection is slightly lax or loose, it may cause something known as hypermobility. Let’s break up this word – hyper – and – mobile. Hyper meaning excessive or beyond. Mobile meaning capable of moving or being moved. Hypermobility may result in stretching of the ligament, misplacement of the bones, and thus an irritation in the back over the attachment location. Sometimes the nerve in the area can become irritated from this stretching and as a result sends a sharp pain around the torso from the back to the front. Futhermore, the muscles around the area become taut and irritable as well. Hope I did not lose you! If I have, think of it this way…your rib and vertebrae bones are connected together by a ligament (in this case, think of the ligament as an elastic band). If the elastic band stretches too much, it may cause the bones to shift out of there normal position. If the bones shift, they feel out-of-place and thus cause our bodies discomfort (especially area the shoulder blade). Hope this explanation makes things more clearer.
What are my treatment options for a Rib Issue?
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto (Chiropractor) and his team of health therapists can help you rehabilitate your muscles after a rib injury via both active exercises as well as passive treatments. Our extensive passive treatments include laser therapy (healing), ultrasound (healing), electrotherapy (pain), hot/cold therapy and soft tissue therapy. Treatments are usually booked two to three times per week for six to eight weeks. Full recovery varies from individual to individual.
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How to treat a slipped rib?
Slipped ribs can be treated by various techniques. One technique is to relax the musculature with heat, interferential current (electromodality that assist in pain reduction), and massage. This may assist in realigning the rib and vertebrae. A second technique is to adjust the rib (costovertebral joint). This will also assist in realigning the rib and vertebrae into a ‘normal’ position and decrease the pain experienced around the shoulder blade.
What is an adjustment?
The Ontario Chiropractic Association defines an adjustment as a highly skilled and precise movement usually applied by hand to a joint of the body. Adjustment loosens the joint to restore proper movement and optimize function. When a joint is adjusted, a gas bubble escapes causing the popping noise you may have heard about. Chiropractic adjustment techniques have been researched extensively. Complications are rare and side-effects, such as temporary soreness, are usually minor.
From my experience, a combination of both techniques work extremely well to help with the discomfort of a slipped rib.