Last Updated on March 13, 2023
Can Chiropractic Care Help with Rib Pain and Dislodgment
Have you ever sneezed so hard that you dislocated a rib?
While this sounds extreme, it is not unusual by any means. It’s possible to dislocate ribs by sneezing or coughing intensely, vomiting, exercising rigorously, spending a significant length of time in improper posture, or during pregnancy.
Each of these events can cause ribs to become significantly or slightly dislodged, resulting in pain and discomfort for as long as the rib stays out of optimal alignment.
While many individuals are accustomed to “toughing it out” and waiting for ribs to find their way back into ideal alignment, this isn’t always possible – or likely. While some people may experience a rib “popping” into and out of place, for others, the rib won’t return quite to its original alignment without assistance. That’s where chiropractors come in!
Subluxation is misalignment – when a small bone moves out of its natural position, this creates strain in all the surrounding areas of the body, and is referred to as “subluxation.” When a subluxation occurs, several body systems are negatively impacted.
Depending on the location of the subluxation, organ function may be inhibited, immune function may be stifled or over-activated, digestive efficiency may decrease, the nervous system can become impaired, and both circulation and respiration may suffer.
Due to the proximity of the ribcage to the lungs, rib subluxation can be particularly hard on the respiratory system. When a rib has been dislodged, breathing can become uncomfortable and even painful, forcing each breath to become more shallow.
In addition to decreasing oxygen levels within the blood, shallow breathing can deregulate the nervous system. Once the nervous system is deregulated, all manner of physical processes can become disrupted, from heart rate and heart rhythm to cognitive processes which impact both energy and clarity.
Ideally, when you suspect that you are experiencing subluxation in either a rib or another part of your body structure, it is time to visit an expert chiropractor. Symptoms of rib subluxation include pain or discomfort near or around your ribs, swelling, and inflammation near or around your ribs, or even a lump or bruise on a specific rib that you suspect has been dislodged.
Other signs of rib subluxation include painful movement of the chest (sneezing and coughing may be unbearable), pain when standing or walking, strain to breathe, and tingling or numbness near the ribs.
Chiropractic Intervention for Rib Subluxation
In most cases, chiropractic care is highly effective for relieving rib subluxation and restoring ribs back to their original position. An expert chiropractor is able to treat a dislodged rib in several different ways, depending on how the dislocation occurred, how frequently it has happened in the past, and whether an injury or accident is connected to the subluxation.
A chiropractor may first manipulate the muscles and tissues in the area to begin “warming” the surrounding vicinity of the rib. Oftentimes, muscles can freeze around areas of trauma in an attempt to stabilize an injury.
In the case of a dislodged rib, this can be counterproductive, as it can actually force the rib to stay in an incorrect position. Sometimes, simple manual manipulation of the muscles and tissues surrounding the rib can be enough for the rib to slip back into place. Other times, an adjustment may be necessary.
To adjust a rib that has moved out of place, a chiropractor must apply direct pressure to the rib and move it back into its appropriate alignment. This may feel like a “snap,” a “pop,” or like nothing at all. The area may be sore for several days following the adjustment, or the pain may completely disappear.
This is different for every individual and highly dependent on the cause of the misalignment. Depending on the ease with which the rib is returned to optimal alignment, it may or may not need to be isolated and stabilized to prevent further shifting during the healing process. This may involve taping, a band, or a brace.
Don’t Try Rib Relocation at Home
While it may be tempting to either leave a dislodged rib alone in the hopes that it self-corrects or attempt to correct it yourself, this is highly inadvisable.
A chiropractor is a trained expert with extensive knowledge and experience in human anatomy, and is familiar with the manipulations required to move bones and joints safely.
While some may feel confident that they can manipulate their rib back into place, this can actually exacerbate the issue and create more pain and discomfort. Further, the position required to adjust and correct rib subluxation should not ideally be carried out on oneself – firm pressure from a few different angles may be required to successfully move the rib.
When in doubt, trust your expert chiropractor to take care of your bones and joints and ensure your body is ideally aligned. If you or someone you love is experiencing rib subluxation, book an appointment today to create some much-needed relief!