Chiropractors Can Help With Your Rib Pain
Subluxated ribs (ribs out of proper alignment) are something that I see quite commonly in my office. The patient usually presents with complaints of a sharp pain when taking a deep breath, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. The problem is common, but the cause is not always obvious. Many different people can experience the same problem but have it occur in vastly different ways.
How Do Ribs Get Out Of Proper Alignment?
Ribs are attached to your thoracic or mid back vertebrae. The main function of the ribs are to protect your internal organs like your heart, lungs, and kidneys. Ribs are unique in that they are constantly in motion. They move every time that you breathe. Your ribs are what allows your chest to expand and contract when you breathe. This is a main reason why the problem is so common, your ribs are moving every minute of every day. It is just a matter of time before there is a moment of weakness in one of your 24 ribs and a mis-alignment occurs. I usually find that there are few common things that predispose people to rib subluxations.
1. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, especially the later part of pregnancy, a woman’s body begins to release a hormone called Relaxin. This hormone does just what it sounds like, it relaxes the ligaments in the body so that they can expand. This is very important for delivery, it allows the pelvis to expand enough to allow the baby to exit. The problem is that this hormone is not specific to the pelvis, it works equally on all ligaments in the body. Pair this with the changes in proportions in a woman’s body, with more weight in the front pulling down on the rib cage, the chances are greatly increased that a rib will move too far and out of proper alignment.
2. Sickness Where You Cough & Sneeze A Lot: When you get sick, your body focuses a lot of its energy on fighting the infection. This puts your muscles in a somewhat weakened state. If your sickness results in a lot of coughing and sneezing, you are placing an excessive amount of pressure on your rib cage. I don’t know about you, but I contort my body into some weird positions when I sneeze. The excessive force paired with the unusual position can cause the rib to move unnaturally and become mis-aligned.
3. Poor Posture Or Working With Your Arms Out In Front Of You Poor posture results in rounding out your mid back. This places excess strain on the back of the ribs. Pair this with doing a lot of motion and lifting with your arms out in front of you and the ribs are primed to move out of position. This may not be a sudden dramatic pain, but rather a process that happens over time until a specific situation pushes it over the edge.
If My Rib Goes Out, How Do I Get It Back In?
Fortunately, if you address the problem quickly, it is relatively easy to adjust the rib back into the correct position. A Chiropractor is uniquely skilled at addressing subluxated vertebra and how to properly adjust it back into place. Now, what if you let the problem linger for a week? Then, there tends to be muscular issues that we have to address. Remember, you breathe 12 to 18 times per minute. Your body will try and keep you out of pain, but this usually involves recruiting other muscles to compensate. These muscles get tight and sore and need to be loosened before the rib can be adjusted back into place.
Because there is usually an underlying cause that allows the rib to subluxate, this is often the issue that must be addressed. Sickness and pregnancy have to run their course, but postural exercises can aid in these conditions to help minimize the occurrence of your rib going out. Unfortunately, if you do subluxate a rib, it is much more likely to subluxate again. Muscle memory can cause the muscles to revert back to the mis-aligned state in a moment of stress. Postural strengthening exercises are very important in preventing future rib subluxations.
Regular Chiropractic adjustments can also help to prevent rib subluxations. When Chiropractors assess the thoracic spine, they are also in effect addressing any rib mis-alignments. Adjusting the thoracic spine also aids in proper rib position. Plus, Chiropractic adjustments help to correct posture. Get Adjusted and Be Well!
Acupuncture can help relax all the muscles around the sore rib and even Cupping can relieve muscle tightness. We also often use Kinesiotape after a treatment to further help stabilize the rib cage, which speeds recovery!