Slipping rib syndrome occurs when the ligaments holding the lower ribs in place move, causing the ribs to shift or “slip,” causing pain in the chest or upper abdomen. Slipping rib syndrome affects the lower ribs that are not connected to the mid-chest bone and is also known as “clicking rib,” nerve nipping, and painful rib syndrome; while medical professionals have a more sophisticated name, interchondral subluxation. Though you are feeling pain in your chest or abdomen, you may not realize you have slipping rib syndrome. Here is more information on this common ailment.
What Causes Slipping Rib Syndrome?
There is no exact cause for this syndrome, typically, there is a pre-existing weakness, injury or trauma in chest muscles or ligaments that eventually lead to it. Failing in the chest muscles or ligaments is often due to hypermobility, or greater movement and flexibility, in the eighth, ninth, and tenth ribs. The hypermobility in the tissue and ligaments makes them more susceptible to being injured or weakened, then damaged, causing the ribs to slip. This movement puts pressure on the nerves and could put additional pressure on the surrounding muscles in the area. This can cause inflammation and pain.
Symptoms of Slipping Rib Syndrome
The most commonly and intensely felt symptoms are inflammation and pain. There are other symptoms, though they may vary between patients. Generally, patients report:
- Sporadic “stabbing” pain in the upper abdomen or back,
- Dull, aching soreness,
- Slipping, popping, or clicking sensations in the lower ribs, and
- Difficulty breathing.
These symptoms tend to worsen in certain activities such as bending, lifting, coughing, sneezing, deep breathing, stretching, or rolling over in bed. While slipping rib syndrome usually favors one side, it’s not uncommon to have slipping rib syndrome on both sides of the ribcage.
After asking you a series of questions about your medical history and recent activities, your medical professional may perform a test to diagnose slipping rib syndrome. In the hooking maneuver test, your doctor moves your ribs upward and back. If you experience the same symptoms with this test, then your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. They will then discuss your treatment options with you.
If you are ever experiencing any chest or upper abdominal pain, be sure to visit your doctor right away.
Getting back to work and play is important to you. It’s important to us too. At Florida Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, our goal is to get every patient back up and running toward good health, but in the safest way possible. We’ll help diagnose your condition and provide effective treatment to assure a speedy and safe recovery. For more information, call Florida Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics at (850) 763-0346 or request an appointment online and get back on track to health and wellness.