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Slipping Rib Syndrome

Slipping rib syndrome is defined as upper abdominal or thoracic pain that is caused by hypermobility of the rib cartilage. Patients will sometimes describe the condition as a slipping or popping sensation of the ribs. This can lead to irritation of the surrounding nerves or strains in the muscles in the area which can cause inflammation and pain. The exact cause of slipping rib syndrome is not well understood, however it can be due to previous injury, direct trauma or from a previous surgery, however cases without any known injury have also been reported.

Symptoms of slipping rib syndrome:

  • Intermittent sharp stabbing pain in the upper abdomen or back, followed by a dull ache sensation
  • A tender spot on the costal/rib margin
  • The pain is reproducible with palpation/pushing of the tender spot
  • Symptoms are usually one sided however can also be both sides
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Slipping, popping or clicking sensation in the lower ribs
  • Worsening of symptoms with bending, lifting, coughing, sneezing, deep breathing, stretching or twisting.
  • Worse with impact exercises such as running

Treatment for slipping rib syndrome:

Slipping rib syndrome will usually resolve on its own without any treatment, however there are some things that can be done at home to manage the symptoms and reduce the pain.

  • Resting
  • Avoiding strenuous exercise
  • Avoiding movements and positions that provoke the pain
  • Heat application to the painful or affected area
  • Taking painkillers or NSAID’s to reduce the pain and inflammation
  • Doing specific stretches and rotation exercises

If the pain continues or you would like to speed up the healing process there are alternative options available provided by your local chiropractor.

  • Electrostimulation or IFC
  • Manual therapy – manipulation of the costovertebral joint
  • Taping/strapping of the ribs
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Intercostal nerve blocks

For further advice or treatment of slipping rib/chest pain we have experienced chiropractors that work at Lakeside chiropractic. We have worked with many slipping ribs and are used to dealing with them. We have found manipulation and mobilization of the ribs to be useful. We have a multimodular approach which increases the chances of healing a slipping rib. We spend 20 minutes with a slipping rib pain on average and use many tools to our disposal. Over the years we have treated many slipping ribs and know they do take time to heal but we do have the formula.

Lakeside Chiropractic is located at 3/45 Central Walk, Joondalup; central to Perth’s Northern Suburbs and are here to help you! With Hicaps facilities onsite for all major Health Insurance Companies (AHM, HIF, HCF, HBF, NIB), Medibank preferred practitioner and apart of the BUPA members first network. We have a variety of visitors from many surrounding areas, Such as: Quinns Rocks, Ocean Reef, Tapping, Iluka, Currambine, Carramar, Jindalee, Alkimos, Mindarie and Sorrento. If you would like further information or to book an appointment please contact us on 9300 0095 or visit our website

November 09, 2018