rib subluxation - subluxated rib

What is a subluxated rib – rib out of place/out of alignment symptoms?

subluxation according to Merriam Webster is a slight misalignment of the vertebrae. Rib subluxation means when a rib bone, usually the rib head moves out of its original position from the sternum or the back. A subluxated rib, also referred to by many as a rib out of place, rib out of alignment is quite common, and it is regarded in chiropractic theory as the cause of many health problems.

This should give you a general idea of what a subluxation of a rib means.

If you’re experiencing a dull and achy dull soreness or pain when touching the rib head area, – where the ribs are connected tot he costal cartilage, then you most like are suffering from a subluxated rib head injury. rib subluxation also goes by many names such as rib head misalignment, partial dislocation of the rib head, rib out of place,  and a rib-tip dislocation, it’s important to note that this is different from having an actually dislocated rib.

In a more intense occasion, the patient will feel a sharp piercing pain in the chest, (some say that it will feel like you’re being stabbed from inside) or a pain originating from around the rib’s periphery (the endings)

This “rib out of place” feeling or Subluxated rib or (subluxed rib) is a very common (but usually less painful) rib injury which occurs when a rib or a set of ribs are partially out of place or, displaced or disconnected i.e. When a rib moves out of its primary position either from the sternum(breastbone) or from the spine.

Types of rib subluxation

The types of rib subluxation will depend on the location of the rib/ribs that were subluxated. From the anatomy of the human ribs, we learned that we have 12 ribs or both sides of the chest, and out of the 12 ribs 10 of them each has two connecting joints – i.e. on joining the sternum and the other spine at the back,

The 11th and 12th ribs are the only ribs with 1 joint area hence the reason they’re called “floating ribs”.

One can experience a displaced rib on any of the 12 ribs, but the most common include floating rib subluxation and the first rib (see first rib subluxation) – yes, the 1st rib, like any other joints found in the body can be subluxated too.

Misaligned rib head can also be called a type of rib subluxation since not all subluxation incidents involve rib head out of place.

To recap, here are the types of a subluxated rib

Causes of subluxated ribs – Causes of rib out of place

Generally speaking, any exercise that involves the arm being pulled to the back of the body in a sudden jerking movement can pull a rib out of place thereby causing a subluxated rib.

Apart from strenuous exercises, rib subluxation can also be caused by either one of the following:

  • Cough and sneeze – Yes, cough and sneezing may pull your ribs out of place.
  • bad posture
  • Sleeping in an improper position at night.
  • The lifting of heavy objects and weights.
  • Throwing, wrestling, contact and tackling ball games and other athletic movements may also result in subluxation of the ribs,
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy could make some ribs to misalign from their positions due to the position of the unborn baby in the mother’s tummy – it’s quite common for pregnant women to complain of a rib pain when as their tummy gets bigger, usually this happens during their last trimester, as the position and the size of the baby may sometimes force one or two ribs out of place, in order to have enough room for the baby in the uterus.

Symptoms of a subluxated rib – rib out of place/alignment symptoms

The major subluxated rib symptoms are pain, in all forms of it – short, long, sharp, dull, stabbing. Most people with subluxated rib symptoms usually report pain during breathing, pain under the chest, chest pain and the classic rib subluxation symptom such as pain while lying in bed, etc.

If any of the nerves around the subluxated rib was compressed at the time of the injury, then tingling sensation and numbness might be experienced. Another rib subluxation symptom in which a higher percentage of people report is muscle spasms.

In the case whereby the first rib is subluxated or subluxated first rib, symptoms may include neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain and numbness, headaches, and chest pain.

Pain under left side is also a good indicator of the presence of an out of place rib, this left-sided chest pain would feel as if the patient is experiencing a heart attack due to the piercing stabbing nature of the pain.

Subluxated rib treatment

  • The ONLY treatment which a patient with a “rib out of alignment symptom” needs is rest, rest and more rest… unless on more serious cases which would require immediate surgery.
  • Depending on the severity of the displaced or misaligned rib, certain treatment methods are used, a trip to a physiotherapist is probably the first thing that should come to your mind if you’re experiencing a rib out of place symptom.
  • Most if not all displaced ribs can be easily adjusted back in place by your doctor or chiropractor, 2 visits to your chiropractor may be all it will take to get that out of place rib back in place. Your physiotherapist or doctor will only work to reduce and manage rib pain and muscle spasm by applying ice (or ice-hot compresses) directly to the area and prescribing pain medications.
  • This pain reduction method may include several physiotherapies and electrotherapy modalities, such as laser, ultrasound, ice, heat, mobilizations, soft tissue therapy, etc. your doctor might also prescribe some rib treatment exercises like breathing, strengthening and stretching exercises.
  • Your doctor may also apply direct pressure to the rib which was out of place or may use adjusting instruments/techniques in order to move the rib(s) back in its original place.
  • To reduce the sore ribs, ice creams or (not the ice cream you eat) ice gels may be used.

How long will it take a subluxated rib to heal?

The healing time of rib subluxation would depend on the kind of treatment procedure used.

For some, the subluxated rib’s healing lasted on a couple of days after a trip to a chiropractor.

For others, it took a week or two to feel “normal” again.

No need to try to “hurry” the body to heal, our bodies will heal at its own pace, all we need is to have enough rest and the rib subluxation healing time would be as short as possible.

Taking care of rib out of place at home

Home care of most rib injuries (except for rib fracture) includes rest.

  • Hot and cold compresses may also help to reduce inflammation
  • If the pain is unbearable, pain medications like ibuprofen, paracetamol, etc. would help manage the pain.
  • As you have a rib out of alignment, all you can do at home is to reduce movement around the affected ribs by changing your usual daily activities, have as much rest as you possibly can, take some supplementary vitamins whose special job is to help heal disc cartilages and bones.
  • While resting, it’s advisable to sleep on a supportive mattress.