Rib dysfunction does not only cause pain in the rib cage, it can also be felt deep inside the chest stimulating pain from the heart, lungs, stomach and food pipe (esophagus or gullet). We call this referred pain or pain that spreads from the original problem area. It could also give arm symptoms and frequently affects people with breathing difficulties such as asthma. Unfortunately for some people, the pain can become recurring and ongoing, and for these people the problem can be a source of great frustration.
When we see them they often have had a number of chronic pain interventions such as long term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers, spinal facet and rib joint injections (cortico-steroids), which often give only short-term relief. We can always treat symptoms but often the cause of rib pain itself does not go away until they are duly addressed.
The chiropractic examination is first aimed at ruling out serious medical problems such as shingles. It is then followed by a detailed examination of the joints and muscles. The chiropractor assesses the movement of the individual ribs. There are two types of movement of the ribs, caliper movement and bucket-handle movement.
The aim of the treatment is to restore the movement, reduce pain and reduce the muscle spasm. This is done using a variety of different ‘hands on’ techniques and exercises. Chiropractic is such a versatile treatment that is does not matter how old you are, or whether you are affected by osteoporosis or other medical problems.
There is always a suitable treatment method the chiropractor can use that is safe and effective for you. To help these patients in the long term, apart from treating the underlying spinal problem with specific chiropractic adjustments, it is extremely important to address the postural problem and core muscle weakness.