Can My Chiropractor Fix My Rib Pain?
By: Eric Brocka, D.C.
Rib pain is fairly common. You might hear someone say "I threw a rib out!" This typically means that the rib has gone out of its natural position. There are a few other reasons to have pain in your ribs that we will discuss. Some of these reasons Chiropractors can help with and some we can't.
1. Subluxation (Rib Out Of Place)
A subluxation can be thought of as "less than a dislocation". It is pretty much just when a bone is out of normal alignment, but not too far to be considered a dislocation. Ribs can get out of position with even the simplest things, such as laughing, coughing or sneezing. In addition to those, I have noticed in my office that people that tend to carry heavy bags or purses can also lead to a rib going out of position. All of these things have one thing in common… your posture. Poor posture is the number one cause that I see in my office of a rib going out of place. Think about it, if you are hunched over, your ribs are that much closer to being pushed out of alignment. Add a heavy bag or a violent sneeze, and there is goes. All this being said, it can be very easy for one of us to throw a rib out of place. I know that cold season is on the verge, which means some of you may be coughing and sneezing quite a bit in the next few months increasing the chance. Start off with working on your posture by sitting nice and tall to help prevent it.
Your body is good at letting you know if you have a rib out of place. Most of the time it can feel like a sharp or burning sensation to the right or left of the spine in the upper back and can sometimes feel like it is under either shoulder blade. Other times, rib pain can be present in the chest, which a lot of people see as a medical emergency. So they go to the hospital, which is definitely necessary and are sent home with nothing wrong with them except for the pain. This is when you should see a Chiropractor to check your ribs out. After you are told everything else checks out, one way to see if it is a rib is by taking a deep breath in. The pain usually will increase as you breathe in that far and stay in that exact spot. This sharp pain that can, but not always, radiate along the entire rib is usually tender to the touch. I have had ribs out in the past and can honestly say that they cause some serious discomfort, especially with sitting and breathing. My rib that was out felt like it under my right shoulder blade. One adjustment later, and I was pain free. So Chiropractors can help reduce rib pain that is caused by a subluxation.
2. Sprains & Strains (Pulled Muscles, Tendons, or Cartilage)
There are many muscles, ligaments, and cartilage associated with each rib. They connect the ribs to the spine, to the sternum and to each other. These muscles can become strained numerous ways. The most common that I have seen is from some sort of accident or impact to the rib cage where the muscles were forced to be stretched too far. Tears in the muscle or ligament can result from this and cause some pain and inflammation in that area. In some instances, the rib may be out of place along with these strained muscles. Chiropractors can adjust the rib into its proper alignment, but the rest of the treatment is on you. Icing the area for twenty minutes on and an hour off will help with the pain and inflammation along with not moving the area. Resting is very important because it lets the healing process begin.
3. Fracture (Broken Rib)
Fractures are obviously a more serious problem to have with ribs. Typically fractures occur with some sort of blow to the rib area and involve some intense pain. Ribs can be partially fractured or broken all the way through. Some serious complications with ribs that are completely broken can be puncturing any underlying or overlying tissues or organs. Chiropractors can't help with fractures, but if you think you have one, I would recommend getting an X-ray taken and proceed from there.
What Do I Do If I Have Rib Pain?
If you happen to come across any rib pain and are in need of a great Chiropractor in the Cedar Rapids area, give us a call to schedule an appointment! Chiropractic adjustments can be very beneficial in moving the rib into its proper alignment, allowing you to breathe pain free again! Your road to health is right around the corner here at Hiawatha Chiropractic!