First rib subluxation or dislocation – What’s wrong with me?

Do I have a first rib subluxation – first rib out of place?

You have a first rib subluxation if you answer yes to any of the questions.

  1. Do you feel like you have some sort of pain on the shoulder?
  2. Or do you feel an agonizing pain around your neck with each and every movement?
  3. How about slight pain or soreness when you turn your head and trunk?
  4. Do you experience a tingly or numb feeling on your hands?
first rib subluxation

Then you probably have a dislocated first rib or first rib out of place (also known as first rib subluxation).

According to a publication from the Florida Gulf Coast University, first rib pathologies are diagnosed, owing to its lack of proper scientific and medical research.

Due to the location of the first rib, its dislocation is rare, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility.  Frist rib subluxation can cause severe pain at the time of displacement, even more pain after a few days! If you answered yes to any of the above first rib subluxation symptoms, then you should definitely read further to know more.

What is the first rib subluxation – elevated first rib?

Subluxed first rib is caused due to partial dislodgement of the rib away from its connecting joint (usually from the sternum)when the rib slightly moves out of place it is called rib subluxation.

Symptoms of the first rib out of place

So what are the symptoms of first rib subluxation?

First ribs are affected by our position and use of our neck and shoulders. In a case of an improper position of neck and shoulders, the first rib will bulge out f its place, the first ribs will suffer and can stay in a permanently elevated position if a rib mobilization exercise isn’t performed or you see your chiropractor, (the elevation or bulging out of the rib from its socket is the reason some people describe this ailment as elevated first rib.) So, whatever might be the reason for the displacement of the first rib, symptoms will be:

  • permanently raised or elevated first rib.
  • pain and tightness on one side of the neck and shoulder.
  • a possible limitation of arm movement on the affected side.
  • Tingling sensation on hands.
  • Neck pain.
  • Unexplainable Shoulder pain.
  • Patients with elevated first ribs also complain of constant headaches – only at one side.

what is the treatment for a subluxated first rib?

For the majority of sufferers, the subluxated rib usually can be popped back in place following a short trip to a chiropractor.

Most cases of first rib subluxation or dislocation can be managed by applying some conservative treatment alternatives which may include change of usual activities, applying ice packs to the affected area, using non-steroidal drugs (anti-inflammatory drugs) and like mentioned, physical therapies.


Examples of some change in activity may include
monitoring, reducing and possibly restricting overhead movement, change in sleeping position, especially if the patient typically sleeps with his/her arm extended overhead, or if it is tucked under his/her body.

That’s why the general knowledge on the universal treatment for subluxated ribs, specifically an elevated first rib, is rest and sometimes coupled with some pain medications. But the case is quite different for a subluxated first rib.

If you think that you might have a subluxation of the first rib and experiencing any of the dislodged first rib symptoms, then you must go and see your doctor for a thorough checkup.

It is advisable to visit an experienced physiotherapist/practitioner to help you get the first rib back in place.

It might be painful, but you should start seeing a drastic improvement once the rib/ribs have been adjusted back in position.

First rib mobilization – A painful, yet rewarding treatment

If a first rib injury is left undiagnosed/ untreated it will become fixated to its newfound possible, and this will affect your posture. At this point, your physiotherapist might guide you while you perform a series of exercise maneuver call the first rib mobilization.

Here’s a really good video I found on youtube about the steps for elevated first rib self-mobilization. 

You’ll quickly learn how to mobilize your first rib after watching this short bo educative video, hope it helps!

Alternatively, you can check out the written techniques for the first rib mobilization here too.

references:

Hooper, T. L., Denton, J., Mcgalliard, M. K., Brismée, J., & Sizer, P. S. (2010). Thoracic outlet syndrome: A controversial clinical condition. Part 1:
Anatomy, and clinical examination/diagnosis. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy,18(2), 74-83. doi:10.1179/106698110×12640740712734


Peña-Salinas, M., Oliva-Pascual-Vaca, J., Heredia-Rizo, A. M., Rodriguez-Blanco, C., Ricard, F., & Oliva-Pascual-Vaca, Á. (2017). No immediate
changes on neural and muscular mechanosensitivity after first rib manipulation in subjects with cervical whiplash: A randomized controlled
trial. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation,30(4), 921-928. doi:10.3233/bmr-160645


Rashia, S., & Zaidi, S. (2017). A Morphological Study of First Rib Anomalies. International Journal of Advanced and Integrated Medical
Sciences,2(2), 70-72. doi:10.5005/jp- journals-10050-10079


Rochlin, D. H., Gilson, M. M., Likes, K. C., Graf, E., Ford, N., Christo, P. J., & Freischlag, J. A. (2013). Quality-of-life scores in neurogenic
thoracic outlet syndrome patients undergoing first rib resection and scalenectomy. Journal of Vascular Surgery,57(2), 436-443.
doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2012.08.112