Dr. Andrew Arnold talks about rib sprains and how they are a relatively common presentation in practice.
Typically, the patient presents with localized pain anywhere from the upper spine to small of the back and just to the side. Specifically, this relates to where the rib joins the spine.
As with any joint ligaments and muscles help stabilize the rib and the spine also known as the Thoracic cage.
The patient reports focal pain that is aggravated when they take a breath, described as a ‘catching’ sensation.
It normally comes on suddenly and as a result of over-reaching. The muscles between the ribs may also be strained.
The patient may also experience referred pain that radiated along the course of the rib sometimes to the front.
Some patients experience this pain in the region of the heart and think the worse often visiting their GP or even the ED to find out what’s going on.
Rib sprains and related muscle strains are very different to rib fractures which in my experience are rare. A rib fracture is much more acute, and the pain lasts for weeks until the fracture is resolved.
Management and treatment involve gently mobilizing the affected rib either manually or using an adjustment instrument. This normally brings relief instantaneously in my experience.
Home management is basically doing very little. If you stretch within the first 2-3 hours following an adjustment this often re-aggravates the condition, so I tell my patients just roll your shoulders backward, that’s it!
So, if you are experiencing a sudden onset of back pain that’s not directly over the spine and catches when you take a breath it maybe a simple rib sprain.
Of course, if you’re not sure what to do first check in with your GP or give your local Chiropractor a call.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor at Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.