“Rib popped out??”

by | Aug 12, 2018 | Pain

Do you have a rib head subluxation??Β 

Oooh sounds a lot worse than it is.. Honestly!

Do you have pain at the base of the neck coming into the shoulder, by the upper spine, or even described as being behind the shoulder blade, worse with particular positions and neck movements? These are often signs that a rib is “out”. This can then develop into headaches or radiating symptoms down the arm and around to the sternum depending on how long they have had it for.

This must be something that I “adjust” or “put back in” on a daily basis. But many don’t even realise they have it.

Here is a great little article about it and a useful picture below taken from :


People come in with pain at the points circled in red, but often slightly higher in the shoulder too. This can come on from daily activities which may put it at a vulnerable position in some, but also through trauma for example a RTA or a fall. More often than not these areas of pain are indicative of a rib head out of place (popped out, or subluxed). See in this picture below of the rib head and how it connects to the spine :

Once found, these can be relatively easy for us to adjust back to where they should be, but quite often hard to keep there from a patient’s perspective. We would always address the issues that have caused it in the first place which can involve the mechanics of the entire rib cage, shoulder position and mobility, restrictions in the neck and upper back are common features and causes. These will help but there are a number of activities that may predispose us to pop our ribs back out again whilst they are still healing:

~Carrying a child or heavy bag on one side

~Sitting over a computer with rounded shoulders and head forward for long periods

~restrictions through the upper back and neck (place altered forces through the joints with the ribs)

~Walking around typing on a phone in one hand.


~Poor or uncomfortable feeding positions in new mums

Interestingly I have found this to be most common in postnatal mums due to the change in ligamentous laxity but also due to the altered mechanical demands on the body, feeding for hours on end in the early days, along with increased weight of breast tissue. So advice on the correct feeding position is always part of the after care advice here, along with ice and mobilisation exercises.

Healing can take up to six weeks due to the ligament strain associated with the rib subluxation. So although the initial acute pain can be reduced significantly after one appointmentΒ  you need to follow advice in the following weeks to prevent it from coming back to often.

So great advice as per the linked article above. Use frozen peas, think about not sitting for too long in one position, avoid spending too much time with your phone in one hand, and stay mobile!

Come and see us if and when you need us.