Can a Rib Get Stuck Out of Place?

image of pain in the rib joint in the upper back

When we think about our ribs, if we ever do, we tend to picture them in front of our body, covering our heart and lungs. However, they attach to our spines in our backs though, and there are a few joints there between the vertebrae and the rib bones. Any time you have a movement point between two structures, you have the potential for things to work incorrectly. In my Norwalk chiropractic practice, I work on these rib joints almost as much as the rest of the spinal joints. Many people are surprised to hear that the ribs can be a source of pain since we don’t think of those joints as being stressed while lifting or exercising. The ribs are an important part of the posture of your upper body, and your shoulder blades rest on the rib cage, so every movement of your arms requires the ribs to be moving correctly. And, since they move every time you breathe, they are required to be in nearly constant motion.

Can a rib get stuck out of place?

Every joint in the body can become restricted, so since the ribs form a joint with the spine, they can become stuck. This can happen from a few different causes, such as a muscular injury to one of the myriad muscles that originate from the ribs, or from your posture holding the joint in a fixed position for an extended time. When the joint is not moving properly, it becomes painful. If is not corrected, other muscles can become aggravated nearby, and it can even cause shoulder and arm pain as the motion of the shoulder blade is affected.

Causes of Rib Dysfunction

There are three main causes of a rib becoming stuck out of place:

  • Sleeping – Side sleepers are particularly prone to this problem. If you sleep on your side and your pillow is not thick enough, you will often roll your shoulder forward to allow your head to lie flat on the pillow. Try a second pillow, so you can keep your shoulders from being pulled forward at night.
  • Exercise – Particularly back exercises like rows, and twisting motions, like in yoga.  The ribs can be injured when the shoulder is pulled far forward. This can happen when you let the weight hang on your arm after a repetition. Avoid this by keeping the shoulder blades pulled into the strong retracted position during the whole exercise.
  • Posture – Everything comes back to posture! Prolonged slumping of the shoulders, like when we sit at a computer for a long time, makes it harder for the ribs to move during each breath. See my posture tips for ideas on how to improve the way you sit.

Can it be put back in place?

The good news is that, while this is a painful problem, a chiropractor that is trained to identify rib problems can do a special adjustment for the joint which will allow it to move properly again. Usually after a few treatments, the rib will start working properly again, and you can get back to your life without pain. Dr French works with this problem in his Norwalk, CT office every day, so if you are dealing with this condition, contact us or click below to make an appointment and start feelign better soon!

Make an appointment with Dr French, Chiropractor in Norwalk, CT