dislocated rib cartilage

Dislocated rib cartilage – treatment, causes and symptoms of rib cartilage injuries.


Dislocated rib cartilage or a popped rib cartilage is a painful condition whereby the ribs are displaced from the cartilage which joins them to the sternum. it is usually caused by force or strike to the anterior (front) chest wall.

Dislocation can occur anywhere, just as long as there are joints. Dislocated rib cartilage isn’t a rare rib injury, in fact it’s more common that you’d imagine. Dislocating a rib cartilage or chest wall is no fun at all, it can happen to anyone, athletic or non athletics. A percentage of pregnant women often do pop a rib or rib cartilage during pregnancy trimesters and God, it is awful!

Chest wall pain can be caused by many reasons but one of the main causes of chest wall pain is costocondritis – and costocondritis is caused by rib cage injuries. Rib cage injuries mostly occur as a result of direct force impact on the chest wall, and these rib injuries could range from dislocation, bruised ribs, broken or fractured rib bones, sprained muscles of the ribs, out of place ribs, popped rib cartilages and fractures etc.

The pain due to rib cartilage tear such as a popped rib /displaced rib cartilage or a fracture can be severe, and as the rib cage assists in breathing mechanism it can extremely agonizing when trying to breathe.

If you’re reading this, then you probably would be wondering what are the causes of chest wall pain or as normally said rib cage pain? Truth is there can be many causes of rib cartilage injuries such as rib cartilage dislocation.

Causes of dislocated rib cartilage

Popped Rib cartilage can be caused by either one or more of the following

  1. Vehicle and other transport related accidents
  2. Injuries which occur while indulging in sport activities.
  3. Fall – falling flat on the chest is considered a blunt force and can cause an anterior(front) injury.
  4. Sneezing or coughing with intense force.
  5. Pregnancy – not caused by baby in tummy, but due to hormonal changes and other factors.

The above are some of the reasons why someone could pop a rib cartilage. Although rib injuries could happen to anyone, older people, smokers and athletes are at more risk of rib cartilage tear and injuries.


Warning: If you experienced any one of the above, it’s advised to go see your doctor for proper examination.


Symptoms of rib cartilage injuries

Apart from the usual rib pain such as costal cartilage pain and sharp pain by ribs which is associated with rib injuries, there are other symptoms such as:


  1. Inflammation of the rib cartilage
  2. Difficulty while breathing, abnormal breathing
  3. Spasms around ribcage/chestwall area
  4. Extremely painful to cough or sneeze
  5. Severe pain with body movements such as turning, lifting your arms, bending down.
  6. And then pain, pain and more pain around the injured chest wall area.


In order to make sure that a person AFFIRMATIVELY has a separated rib cartilage from the ribs, a fractured rib cartilage or costochondral separation or ribs from the cartilage, a doctor’s assessment is required.

Your doctor might send you to a chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan or bone scan in order to fully understand the severity of your injury.


Dislocated rib cartilage treatment

Treatment for most minor rib injuries involve three things

  1. Rib re-seating – putting the dislocated rib back in place.
  2. Rest
  3. Pain management – such as Ibuprofen, acetaminophine, Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAIDs)

Your doctor may also prescribe further Therapy session such as Yoga, PRP therapy etc.


Your displaced ribs need time to recover. Expect the recovery time to be from 8 weeks up to 24 weeks, or even more for full recovery.




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