What is Rib Subluxation?

The rib cage is made up of 24 total ribs, with 12 on each side, and these ribs connect to the vertebral column at the back of the rib cage and connect to the sternum, which is the chest plate, at the front of the rib cage. However, the bottom two ribs on each side are called floating ribs because they do not connect to the sternum.

A subluxation refers to an injury in which a bone gets partially dislocated from its normal position in the body. Therefore, a rib subluxation occurs when a rib is moved out of its normal position in the rib cage. A rib can be partially dislocated either at the back of the rib cage where it attaches to the vertebral column or at the front of the rib cage where it connects to the sternum.

It should be noted that a rib subluxation differs from a rib dislocation. A rib dislocation involves a rib being completely dislocated from its normal position, not just partially dislocated (rib dislocations are usually much more painful). Causes of rib subluxations include:

Violent coughs or sneezesSports collisionsThrowing a ball or other objectLifting a heavy weightPregnancy

Symptoms-Pinpoint pain near left or right of the mid back -Pinpoint chest pain -Pain with deep breaths or coughing -Pain when twisting -Pain when lifting objects

Rib Subluxation Treatment


Rib subluxations are usually treated very simply with manipulative therapy and occasionally soft tissue therapy. If there is swelling or spasm around the joint, therapy like stimulation with ice packs can be applied. It is not unusual to to achieve a pain free resolution within one to three treatments.

**Disclaimer- If you are experiencing left sided chest pain that you feel may be related to a heart condition please contact your primary care physician first**

Bret  Kelley

Bret Kelley


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