Ever heard of someone “throwing their back out”? Or what about a rib slipping out of whack? Yes, it can happen, and it’s as unpleasant as it sounds. Rib injuries — from misalignments to breaks — cause all sorts of issues, from sharp pain to breathing difficulties. But here’s the great news: chiropractic care might just be the superhero coming to the rescue. With their magical touch, chiropractors can help bring your body back to its proper alignment by focusing on the affected rib. If you find yourself clutching your side more often than not, keep reading to learn how a chiropractor will get you back on the straight and narrow (literally)!
The Anatomy of the Rib Cage
The rib cage is the natural armor of the body, protecting vital internal organs like the heart and lungs. There are 24 ribs in total, 12 on each side, all hooked to the spine at the back. They arc around the front of the chest in pairs and connect to the sternum (that is, the long, flat bone you can feel in the center of your chest).
- The top seven pairs are called “true ribs” because they connect directly to the sternum with a strip of cartilage. They play a major role in protecting your heart and its surrounding organs.
- The next three pairs, known as “false ribs,” have a slightly different setup. Instead of connecting directly to the sternum, they share a single strip of cartilage with the 7th rib.
- The last two pairs, called “floating ribs,” don’t connect to the sternum at all. They just hang out in the back, protecting the kidneys.
Let’s not forget the part the rib cage plays in our breathing! The ribs lift and expand when we inhale, creating more space for our lungs to fill with air, and then drop back down when we exhale. The rib cage is not just a static structure, but a dynamic one, always moving and adapting to our body’s needs. It’s like a built-in corset, shield, and bellows all in one!
What is Rib Misalignment?
When we talk about rib misalignment, we mean that one or more ribs have moved from their normal position. Think of it like a door off its hinges that no longer fits properly into the frame. Fortunately, a misaligned rib is seldom a permanent thing. Healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, or chiropractors can help nudge that wayward rib back into its proper place. You might need medical intervention in more severe cases, but that’s even more rare.
The Causes Behind Misaligned Ribs
Several factors could cause your ribs to shift from their normal positions:
- Injuries and Trauma: Maybe you took a tumble off your bike, got tackled hard during a football game, or were in a car accident. Any of these could cause ribs to become displaced.
- Poor Posture: Spending a lot of time hunched over a computer or constantly looking down at your phone can put a strain on your neck and upper back muscles, which can lead to rib subluxation.
- Repetitive Movements: Repetitive motions such as swinging a hammer or twisting to grab items off a shelf can slowly cause a rib to shift out of place.
- Heavy Lifting: Incorrect lifting techniques can cause ribs to become misaligned.
- Pregnancy and Childbirth: The strain and physical changes occurring during pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes cause ribs to move out of position.
- Medical Conditions: Osteoporosis or severe muscle weakness can affect your bones and surrounding muscles and cause rib injuries.
The Symptoms of a Misaligned Rib
Here’s a rundown of signs that a rib might have gone rogue:
- Rib Area Pain: It could be sharp, stabbing pain in the chest or back, especially when taking a deep breath, coughing, or moving in certain ways.
- Tenderness or Swelling: The area around the injury might be tender to the touch, and you might notice some swelling.
- Difficulty Breathing: Since your ribs help your lungs expand and contract, rib injuries will make it harder for you to take a deep breath.
- Tightness: You might feel a sort of tightness or “twisted” feeling in your chest or back.
- Restricted Movement: Are you having trouble bending or twisting as you usually can? A misaligned rib could be at fault.
- Postural Changes: Sometimes, rib injuries cause patients to unconsciously change their posture to reduce the discomfort, such as leaning on one side.
Diagnosing Rib Misalignment
Diagnosing a rib misalignment starts with reviewing your medical history and undergoing a physical exam. You’ll chat with your physician about your symptoms and any injuries you’ve sustained to help them get a clear picture of your condition. Then comes the hands-on part. Your physician will feel your ribs, checking for any tenderness, swelling, or deformities. This is a straightforward way for them to check if a rib is out of place or if it’s causing you any pain. If preliminary investigative methods are inconclusive, your physician may order imaging tests like an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Can Chiropractic Care Address Rib Misalignment?
Chiropractors can work real magic when it comes to rib misalignments!
- Chiropractic Rib Adjustment: Chiropractors can manually adjust a misaligned rib back into proper alignment with immediate pain relief!
- Flexibility Exercises: If your rib misalignment is due to muscle tension or tightness, your chiropractor might recommend some specific stretches or exercises to improve your flexibility and prevent future misalignments.
- Posture Correction: A chiropractor can work with you to correct your posture, keeping your ribs in their proper place.
- Pain Management: Chiropractors can use a variety of techniques, from ice and heat therapy to electrical stimulation, to help manage your pain while your rib heals.
- Preventive Care: Once your rib is back in place, chiropractors can help you prevent future misalignments with ongoing care, such as regular adjustments, strengthening exercises, or lifestyle modifications.
Ready to Address Your Rib Injury Through Chiropractic Adjustments?
At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, adheres to the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic treatment services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!
- “How Many Ribs Do Humans Have? Men, Women, and Anatomy.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-many-ribs-do-humans-have. Accessed 10 June 2023.