You have 12 pair of ribs that attach to the “thoracic” region of your spine. The ribs serve to protect your heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Each rib is shaped much like a “bucket handle” arching from your spine to your breastbone (sternum) in front. Your ribs must move freely when you breathe, bend, twist, and reach. The term “costovertebral dysfunction” or "rib subluxation", means that one or more of your ribs has become restricted or slightly malpositioned from it’s attachment to the spine. You can visualize this as imagining one of your bucket handles is misaligned and not moving in sync with the others.

Rib problems can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are brought on by an accident or injury; other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Rib malpositions are common during pregnancy or after a whiplash injury.

Symptoms sometimes begin following a sudden or explosive movement, like coughing or sneezing, reaching, pushing, or pulling. Other times, a specific cause cannot be recalled. Rib dysfunction may cause pain near or slightly to the side of your spine with possible radiation of symptoms along your rib, sometimes all the way to the front. Some patients feel as though they were “shot by an arrow.” Rib problems are a frequently overlooked source of chest and abdominal pain.

Be sure to tell your chiropractor if your symptoms include any unusual cough, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, fever, flu-like complaints or if you notice a rash developing along the border of your rib. Seek immediate medical treatment if you notice chest “pressure” or “squeezing”, symptoms that radiate into your arm and jaw, or if you have chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion, as these are possible symptoms of heart problems and must be addressed immediately.

Most patients report rapid relief following chiropractic care. Our office can provide several tools to help ease your pain. To speed your recovery, you should avoid activities that increase your pain. Initially, you may need to limit reaching, pushing, and pulling. Women may benefit by temporarily switching to a sports bra to help better diffuse pressure over irritated ribs. Some patients report relief by using sports creams, NSAIDs, or applying ice for 15-20 minutes directly over the painful area.


Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.

Joint Manipulation

Joint Manipulation

Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.

 

Therapy Modalities

Therapy Modalities

We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.

 

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release

Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.

 

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic Exercise

Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.

 

 

 

After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.

Sleep Posture

Sleep Posture

Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.


  • Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
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Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
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Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
 

Workstation Ergonomics

Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways:

  • Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
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Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level.
  • Use a lumber roll for lower back support.
  • Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet).
  • Take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion.
  • Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.
 

Lifting Mechanics

Lifting Mechanics

Here are some tips to help you lift safely:

  • Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time).
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Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned.
  • Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs.
  • Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso.

An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help.

 
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