How to Effectively Correct a Dislocated Rib

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Anyone who has experienced dislocating a rib knows very well how excruciating it is. Daily activities such as breathing, moving, or even laughing are unbearable with the constant pain. Having a dislocated rib can be very inconvenient, which is why it is understandable that patients want to try every method available to get rid of the pain and discomfort.

Slipping Rib Syndrome

The slipping rib syndrome occurs when an individual’s lower rib ligament slips and moves. This prompts severe discomfort in the upper abdomen or chest.

This condition goes by several names, such as rib tip condition, clicking rib, or dislodged ribs. It can also be called interchondral subluxation, nerve nipping, and difficult rib disorder, among others. 

Slipping rib syndrome is a bit more common in females than males. It has also been diagnosed in individuals ages 12 to mid-80s.


There are numerous potential reasons why slipping rib syndrome may happen. With that said, at times, there is also no exact reason. In several occurrences, the injury is because of other issues in the chest. These issues include weakness in chest ligaments and tendons. 

Weakness in these areas is commonly due to the hypermobility of the 8th, 9th, and 10th ribs. Hypermobility indicates that they have a higher probability of moving. These ribs, being hypermobile, are likewise more vulnerable to injury and trauma.

More causes of this condition are:

  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma 
  • Fragile or weak cartilage of the ribs
  • Degeneration of muscle tissue connected to the cartilage
  • A continuous and severe cough.


This condition is hard to diagnose due to its symptoms resembling other injuries. A doctor will initially take a clinical history and collect information about the symptoms. It is important to note when the symptoms first surfaced. Moreover, knowing what activities worsen the discomfort is also vital. 

Doctors will also want to know about the activities done right before the abdominal or chest pain started. There is a test named the hooking maneuver, which aids in analyzing the condition. 

To conduct the test, the doctor will hitch their finger under the edges of the rib. They will then proceed to shift the rib upward and back. If the action causes a similar pain or discomfort, extra tests usually won’t be needed. 

This procedure is known as the differential diagnosis. Several potential causes that your doctor will need to rule out are:  

  • Appendicitis
  • Asthma
  • Bone metastases
  • Bronchitis
  • Chest pain (pleuritic)
  • Cholecystitis 
  • Esophagitis
  • Fractures caused by stress
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Heart conditions
  • Muscle tears
  • Tietze syndrome or costochondritis

If the results are still unclear, patients are usually referred to a specialist for additional assessment. The specialist may request that the patient move certain body parts or keep up specific postures. This is done to search for a connection between the movement and the pain’s intensity.


The primary symptom of slipped rib syndrome is a pain in the back or chest. The pain most people experience is generally sharp and intense. It also increases when the individual breathes, since it makes the rib cage collapse and expand.

Moreover, the pain generally worsens when the person bends, coughs, and takes deep breaths. Discomfort is also triggered when lifting heavy objects, reaching above the head, rising from a chair, stretching, and turning while lying down. 

Other telltale signs include:

  • There is an obvious popping sound when the rib dislocates
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • Swelling, and bruising

Most cases of this condition happen unilaterally. However, it has also been diagnosed to occur bilaterally. It is recommended to consult a doctor immediately if there is difficulty breathing or encountering severe chest pain since these symptoms may imply a more severe illness, like heart disease. 


Medically speaking, there is no way to heal a dislocated rib in an instant. However, specific methods to gradually treat the injury can be done. Here are some effective dislocated rib treatments to correct your injury:

Home Treatment

In several instances, slipping rib syndrome can heal by itself through home treatment. The treatment should include:

  • avoiding heavy chores
  • applying ice or heat to the injured area
  • resting
  • Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine or a painkiller
  • Doing easy rotation  and stretching exercises

Chiropractic Care

One of the best treatments for a dislocated rib is chiropractic care. When it’s sure that the rib has moved, the chiropractor will start performing different procedures to relax the area. Performing a standard soft-tissue massage will enable the muscles to shift easily. 

Once the muscles are relaxed, the rib can be popped back into place with a strong yet delicate push. The treatment usually is very simple. However, if the condition continues or causes extreme discomfort, surgery might be suggested.


Slipping rib syndrome is usually an overlooked reason for abdominal or chest pain. Costal cartilage excision is acknowledged as a successful treatment of this issue. This surgical procedure can be used to decrease symptoms that hinder daily activities.


A dislocated rib is painful and inconvenient. Although it would be great for the injury to heal quickly, it would still require quite some time to recover fully. Like other bony or soft tissue injury in the body, the healing process would take more or less 4-6 weeks. However, with constant care, the injury would heal faster.