How can we tell if the pain is rib pain/misalignment?
A misalignment of the rib can cause a deep or sharp pain at the place of misalignment. This pain can be felt at the front of the rib cage by the sternum or in the back of the ribcage by the spine or under the shoulder blades. There may be swelling and tenderness when touched. Deep breathing will be difficult, causing discomfort and pain at the misaligned rib joint. When the rib has been misaligned for a long time, the sharp pain often becomes a constant dull ache or chronic restriction.
Why do we get rib pain/misalignment?
A misalignment of a rib can be caused by any number of activities, from a direct blow to the rib cage, to twisting or exerting during activity, to rolling over during sleep. Sometimes you won’t know what caused the rib to misalign. Aside from a direct blow to the rib cage, there is always an associated tightness in the musculature surrounding the ribs that allows the misalignment to occur in the first place. Keeping the intercostal muscles (muscles in between the ribs), rotator cuff muscles, and chest muscles stretched out and open can help to prevent rib misalignments.
How does Chiropractic help individuals recover from rib pain/misalignment?
When the joints of the rib are out of alignment, they can irritate the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves associated with the misaligned area. Your local San Diego chiropractor will examine the ribs, and depending on the results, your chiropractor will determine if a specific chiropractic adjustment to the rib is necessary. In addition, your chiropractor will analyze the muscular balance of your chest and surrounding structures and suggest stretches/exercises to help balance these areas.
Your chiropractor will also examine the spinal segments of the mid-back. Misalignments in the mid-back may cause imbalances in the muscles and nerves of the ribs, contributing to rib pain/misalignment. If there is a segment misaligned in the mid-back, it will be gently moved back into place using a specific chiropractic adjustment.
What stretches and strengthening exercises will help for rib pain/misalignment?
It is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the rib joints to help balance and stabilize the area. Be sure to stretch both sides, but focus more on the affected side. Please note that the videos below are only to be used preventatively or after a misaligned rib has been realigned/stabilized for at least three days (or as directed by your local San Diego Chiropractor). Doing these stretches and exercises when a rib is out of place will irritate it more and cause more pain.
There are 5 preventative/rehabilitative stretches and exercises that will help with rib irritation:
Butterflies – do just the butterflies from the spinal mobility series.
Remember, DO NOT do any of these if you currently have a misaligned rib or rib pain. Please check in with your local San Diego Chiropractor for more detailed recommendations.