About Chest and Rib Pain: Our advice, if you experience pain in your chest or ribs, is to see your doctor immediately. There are multiple conditions, many serious, and a variety of symptoms that are not always easy to sort out which can be related to pain in the chest or ribs. Don’t fool with these symptoms, see your doctor.
Now for the good news. There are numerous musculoskeletal conditions that can cause pain in the upper back (thoracic area) ribs, and chest and are easily treated in physical therapy. Pain coming from the muscles, ribs, or cartilage of the ribs is common. Musculoskeletal pain presents as atypical chest pain that is reproducible by springing of the chest, movement of the chest wall during deep respirations, movement of the limbs or by direct pressure. The causes are many but often consist of trauma, reaching far into flexion or extension, or inflammation of the cartilage. There are movements or injuries that can cause strain to the ligaments and joints where the ribs meet the spine (costo-transverse joints). People can wake up with an injury to these joints (a costo-transverse sprain). Sometimes it is caused by an awkward sleeping position or caused by turning in bed, or something that happened the day before but was too mild to cause significant pain right away.
For some people the pain can become recurring and ongoing, and for these people the problem can be a source of great frustration. Physical therapy can often give the relief the patient seeks.
When physical therapists see patients with chronic spine, chest or rib pain there are other factors to consider such as a slouched posture with forward drawn shoulders. This is often seen in people who are generally unfit with:
- poor thoracic core muscles
- increased thoracic curvature (kyphosis)
- sedentary occupations
- carrying loads for prolonged times
- and in scoliosis of the mid-back
To help these patients in the long term, apart from treating the underlying spinal problem with specific physical therapy, it is extremely important to address the postural problem and core muscle weakness.
Chest and Rib Program:As stated above, many conditions can cause upper spine, chest or rib pain. In addition to pain there may be significant loss of motion and associated functional limitations. Our chest and rib pain program will be tailored to your specific problem and will include the following:
- Rapid pain relief program and patient education
- Development of home treatment program
- Manual therapy to normalize range of motion
- Soft tissue mobilization to normalize tone
- Exercise to normalize movement and strength