Rib cage or rib pain is a common issue that many people experience. The body is built with 12 ribs on each side of the spine which feature joint connections that attach the two. The rib cage serves to protect some of the body’s most vital organs (such as the heart and lungs). In addition, the rib cage, while setting in place, does play a large role in how the body moves and operates.
With nearly any upper body movement impacting the rib cage, an injury to this bone structure can cause a significant amount of discomfort for an individual. When an injury occurs, affected individuals may experience noticeable pain when breathing, coughing, or laughing. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling of the rib cage area
- Pain when sneezing
- Numbness in the rib area
- Shooting pain down your front, side, or back of the ribs
Pain and difficulty breathing associated with the rib cage will often cause individuals to visit the hospital. However, rib pain often stems from a specific out of place rib or a vertebrae misalignment.
How Rib Injuries Occur
Rib pain and injuries are not always clear cut as to why they arise. For some individuals, the pain comes from an acute incident, while other root issues are caused by a long-term build-up. While identifying the cause is helpful in the future prevention of rib pain, both causes are treatable with the help of a knowledgeable chiropractor.
Common causes of rib pain include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor posture
- Excessive use of electronics (hunching over)
- Extreme sneezing or coughing
- Extreme vomiting
- Sports-related incident
How a Chiropractor Treats Rib Pain
Since the rib cage is a bone structure, seeing a chiropractor is a great option. First, a chiropractor will most likely need to take X-rays of your rib cage to determine if you have a misaligned rib or ribs, or if they are broken. This distinction is important for the course of treatment.
A broken rib will take longer to heal than a misaligned one. In addition, a broken rib must heal with time — further physical treatment could prolong or worsen the case. If the rib is broken, once the bone is healed, a chiropractor will likely want to perform some spine adjustments to ensure no extra pressure of weight is being put on the affected rib(s).
However, if an individual is suffering from a misaligned rib, the chiropractor may simply readjust and place the rib back in its natural position. As hinted at, some rib pain comes from poor spinal alignment, causing excessive force to be placed on the rib cage — which can lead to continual pain. When the thoracic vertebrae becomes misaligned or doesn’t allow for a full range of motion, the rib joints and the function of the rib cage can be negatively affected. This would call for an adjustment of the mid-back.
A chiropractor like Dr. Russell may also recommend physical therapy and/or massage therapy. These two treatment methods can help continue to heal and alleviate the associated pain while supporting greater rib flexibility.
Need a Chiropractor?
Contact Dr. Goodbinder to schedule an appointment to examine your current health status. Rib cage pain is common and can be addressed without the need for harmful prescription medications or invasive surgery. Learn how we can help address your health concerns, and adjust for a healthier life moving forward.
Dr. Jay Goodbinder ND DC DABCI is a doctor in Overland Park, KS who serves patients in surrounding Kansas City areas, cities across the United States, and in several countries around the world.