Rib Subluxation Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Exercises

A rib subluxation is a medical disorder in which one or more of the ribs partially dislocate from their usual position in the spine or sternum. This can occur in one or all of the ribs (breastbone). It usually happens when the joints and connective tissues in the chest and back are damaged by an accident, repeated stress, or an underlying medical condition.

Some of the most common signs of rib subluxation are sharp pain or unpleasantness in the chest or back, trouble breathing, swelling or soreness around the affected area, and a feeling of popping or clicking when moving. If rib subluxation is not treated, it can become severe enough to cause nerve injury or other problems.

To determine if a patient has rib subluxation, a doctor will do a thorough physical examination, evaluate the patient's medical history, and maybe request imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.


  • Pain in the lower anterior chest wall and upper abdomen
  • Pain at the affected coastal edges
  • A feeling of popping, clicking or slipping
  • Pain that is intermittently sharp and stabbing in the upper abdomen or back, followed by a dull ache.
  • The discomfort felt in the side
Rib Subluxation Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Exercises


This syndrome usually affects your 8th to 10th false ribs, which are at the bottom of your rib cage. There is no connection between these ribs and the sternum (chest bone) (sternum). These ribs are connected to one another by fibrous tissue (ligaments), which helps to keep them stable. Due to the relative weakening of the ligaments, the ribs may move slightly more than usual, causing pain.

The subsequent factors could lead to the condition:

  • Chest injuries are common among athletes who participate in contact sports including football, ice hockey, wrestling, and rugby.
  • An accident or physical injury to your chest
  • Motions that quickly twist, push, or lift, like swimming or tossing a ball
  • When the ribs move, they exert pressure on the muscles, nerves, and other tissues in the vicinity. This results in localized pain and inflammation.
  • This disease is more prevalent in middle-aged adults, but it can affect anyone. It may affect women more than men.


Depending on the extent of the damage, the healing process for rib subluxation (also known as slipping rib syndrome) can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Initial treatment after a positive diagnosis includes reducing activity, taking NSAIDs orally, and using ice. A period of rest is also advised since this will allow the injury to heal more quickly and will reduce the likelihood of additional aggravation or injury. Mild pain can be treated with ibuprofen, and it generally goes away in a few weeks. The disease may improve following treatment, but if it is severe or the result of trauma, it may take a long longer time. In general, it's critical to follow medical instructions and abstain from activities that could exacerbate the disease while recovering.


Exercises for rib subluxation can aid in healing and reduce the risk of further accidents, but you should always speak with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise regimen. Exercises that may be helpful include deep breathing, shoulder blade squeezes, wall push-ups, shoulder rotations, and cat-cow stretches. To create a safe and efficient workout routine, it's crucial to consult with your doctor or physical therapist.

Rib Subluxation Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Exercises Rib Subluxation Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Exercises Reviewed by Simon Albert on March 16, 2023 Rating: 5
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