Slipping Rib Syndrome- treatments?

There is so little info out there about slipping rib syndrome.  As far as I know I have gone through the main treatment for it out there, Prolotherapy, where dozens of little saline injections are placed into the damaged joint, causing inflamation, which causes the body to focus on healing and rebuilding in this area.  This really worked great for me.  The problem is it worked to a limited degree.   They won’t do the proceedure if you aren’t in pain at the time of the proceedure, and I had to make my appointments a month in advance.  That worked wonderfully for me until prolotherapy actually started working.   Then I would head out to my appointment two hours before and have no idea if I would be in pain by the time I got there.  More than once I was turned away when I got there because I wasn’t in pain at the moment.  I would say I am probably about 50% better, maybe being a little less generous than I should be, because I am in pain right now.

I go see a chiropractor (two actually) on a regular basis, but it would be impossible for me to go see one often enough to remain pain free from the dislocated ribs.  I would love to have a chiropractic membership, like people have massage memberships or gym memberships, where I could just pay a flat monthly fee and just go as often as needed.   I don’t know if such a thing exists but if it did it would probably not be in my price range.  My insurance company will cover three visits a year.  Ideally I would get three a week.  Financially I am limited to one a month, two if I simply can’t stand the pain.

Slipping Rib Syndrome is basically an injury to the connective tissue, caused by trama to the area.  The ribs slip out of joint fairly easily, and its common to have three ribs or more dislocated at one time.  It hurts to move, stetch, sit still, lay down, eat, breathe.  Right now my ribs have been dislocated for about 10 days and it hurts so badly I can’t sleep.  For me, it was caused by a misdiagnosed life time chronic cough.  It got very severe after having my son and I was treated for asthma for about 5 years while the cough just got worse.  Turns out it was acid reflux, probably exasperated by my new diet and a sudden senditary lifestyle.  The cough was so extreme I was embarrassed togo out, and it was increased by physical activity so I got even more sendiatry.  The pain in my chest from the ribs dislocating was misdiagnoised as fibromyalgia, an easy diagnoises since I had other autoimmune symptoms and had not yet been diagnoised with the psoriatic arthritis.

I have tried glucosamine drinks and plenty of “miracle” drink cures, but I am open to other ideas.  Maybe there are no other treatments, but in my quest for total health in my fight against the psoriatic arthritis, I would be remise if I didn’t try to fix all of the issues causing me health problems.

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34 Comments

Filed under Chronic Pain, Health, Pain, PsA, Psoriatic Arthritis, slipping rib syndrome

34 responses to “Slipping Rib Syndrome- treatments?

  1. Sally

    I feel your pain. I have three ribs on my left side that only stay in place for about 4 days. I ,too, am looking for a permanent fix. At 47 and active, I am not ready to slow down for this or anything else. The only thing I can share with you is how I am able to put the ribs back in place without a chiropractor. There are two ways I do this. The most effective is to sit with your knees in the air. Grab them and roll backward as if doing a somersault but only roll up on your shoulders leaning toward the side the ribs are out. This will put them back for me but not without a little pain for a day or two. Also you can take a tennis ball and roll it up and down your spine against a wall. Hope this helps take away a few chiro visits. Good luck!

    • I love these ideas, I will try them! Have you tried prolotherapy?

      • Sally

        No I haven’t tried prolotherapy yet. Tomorrow I am going to see an osteopath that was recommended to me . Another thing I did was buy a brace on Amazon. This pulls my shoulders back for good posture and it really works well for the $10 I spent on it.

  2. Janell

    Something that has helped me is shoulder rolls. Slowly rotate your shoulders in forward 10 times, then do it backwards 10 times. Sometimes I try to get my shoulder blade to rotate with it as well. it’s a little hard to explain. It takes a while when it goes out, but after a couple days seems to be doing better. Well, my left side I’ve been able to get it back in place when it goes out. My right side still is out but these movements help it be manageable so that I’m not in pain most of the time. I just feel it when I reach or move weird.

  3. Megan Casino

    There are some great ideas here that I’ll need to try. The only thing that works for me is when I’m in my car (I know sounds weird). When I’m sitting straight up as if I were driving and take a few real deep breaths I am able to pop my rib back in. Probably helps that my car is warm and I sit real straight when I’m driving. But I can’t seem to get it back in any other way. Even mimicking my driving postion at home doesn’t work. I’m working in a new role at work that is much more active and I left heavy items now and my rib now pops out every day. I wish I had a better answer from my chirco instead of just keeping coming back for ink to just pop it back in and for it to just poo out hours later.

  4. I lay on a foam roller on the floor and roll back and forth on the spot until my rib slips back in. This works as a temporary fix, but a chiropractor has been my only saving grace for a month at a time.

  5. Sigrid

    I lie down on the floor, put one tennis ball on each side of my spine, put all my weight on the balls and my heals, and roll back and forth until i hear cracking sounds. I’ve had long periods without popping when I’ve been doing regular strength exercise, especially the lying dumbell press, since it strengtens the area where the ribs connect to the spine.

    • Thanks for the input. I have noticed I have less problems with my ribs since I have been dancing which I am sure is because I have been strengthening my ribcage. Can you share exactly how you do the lying dumbell press? Such as the starting position of the arms, are they straight out to your sides, or against your chest? Thanks so much.

      • Sigrid

        Sounds logic.
        I usually keep my arms crossed on my chest. The most important part is to always keep all your weight on balls and heals – no other part of your body should touch the floor, and try to be as relaxed as possible. If your muscles are tensed, they’ll probably keep the ribs from popping back into place. And roll all the way up to underneath your neck. I’ve found that it works best when I’m warm, for example after exercise. Never works in the morning when i just woke up. And the sooner you do it after they popped out, the better! Hurts a bit in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it..
        My chiropractor agreed to this method as long as I didn’t do it too often.
        Good luck, hope this helps! 🙂

  6. Alice Walker

    I found this thread of conversation while looking online for more info on this slipping rib syndrome. My question to anyone reading this is – is this a problem that only occurs at the front side of the ribs or can it happen at the back? So far everything I’ve found online talks about the front side of the rib cage. My long time problem has been on my back. The first time it happened (that I know of) spontaneously was at home while vacuuming, I went to a chiropractor who popped it back in place and this is when I actually first told what was happening to me – a rib out of place. I have had a long history of back injuries and had always attributed any pain on my back to be the spine and rotator cuff problems. Thisincident happened in my mid thirties and happen occasionally when doing heavy labor work, over the next decade or so. Now in my mid fifties, especially this summer, it happens every time I try to do yard work or any physical work at all. I haven’t been going to a chiropractor lately when it happens, but have been getting regular deep tissue massages and keeping limber with stretching exercises. I will think all is well and then one day while working on our acreage, I have a sudden sharp pain in my back that makes me think I know what it feels like to be stabbed with a knife. I am really discouraged as I prefer physical work and can’t imagine life without it. 😦

    • Hello Alice, I am glad you found this thread, one of the reasons I started it was because I could find so little myself on it. Yes, it can absolutely happen in the back as well as the front. I had it in both. Infact when I would describe the chest paint to my doctor I would tell him that I often felt it in the back and it seemed to radiate around to the front. When I got prolotherapy they gave me several injections around my sternum but scores along my spine. I found that massage felt great on the spasmming muscles could often make this problem worse, although I would realize for hours or even days because my issue was so bad a therapist with moderate pressure can easily press out a rib. Infact to this day I still have to have therapists avoid my back. Chiropractors really help, I went as much as twice a week at times and even a decade or so after the Prolotherapy I still go occasionally (often because I get a full body massage and think my body can handle the back massage).

    • Jill

      Thanks for posting this, as just like you, much of the material I read on slipping rib syndrome refers to the front rib cage. I’m in my mid-30’s, and twice in the last few years I’ve had 3 ribs sip out of place from my back rib cage. Felt a click, and then the pain sets in between my shoulder blades and neck. In both incidents, I believe involving the same ribs, it was caused by the simplest movement while sitting at my desk at work. My chiropractor has easily put them back into place, but I am worried that this is going to keep repeating itself.

  7. amy

    I found this looking for slipping rib syndrome! I had an injury a few years back where my lowest floating rib ached and moved when I pressed on it (underneath my other one). My doc did an xray and mri and concluded nothing was wrong. It got better. However it still moves and causes slight pain sometimes. I’m concerned now because I’m pregnant and worried I will have severe rib pain later in pregnancy or the rib (this may sound dumb) will poke me, move, or cause internal injury. Does this seem likely or do you think my body will accommodate properly? What kind of specialist did you see for this?

    • I saw a Specialist for Prolotherapy, and also saw a chiropractor. My doctor actually developed slipping rib syndrome during her pregnancy so I know it can happen. Prolotherapy should be safe during pregnancy but ask your doctor just in case. My advice is to try to keep your muscles as strong as possible as they can do a great deal for keeping your ribs in place. Good luck, and congrats on the pregnancy.

    • Debby

      Hi I went to a Sports Medicine doctor. I damaged my floating ribs in a car accident and 4 years later they calcified and would hit the nerve. Oh yea soooo painful. I got a intercoastal shot in the nerve, it helped. I also use ice for inflammation.

  8. Carrie

    Hi , For the most part, has your doctors rightly diagnosed the slipping rib syndrome? My doctor just wants me to take naproxen. The pain is unbearable. How can I convince my doctor that I have this condition and what tests can I have to prove it?

    • Hello Carrie. The test is simple. If a doctor gentle puts pressure on a rib and it pops out then you have it. I was diagnoised by a pain management doctor who was familiar with the syndrome and it was confirmed by a chiropractor. I then went to a prolotherapist that specialized in sports injury. Which is what prolotherapy is often used for. But if the condition that caused the problem, in my case asthma, isnt controlled or returns, then you have wasted a lot of money. Chiropractor is your best bet.

  9. Cindi

    I have had abdomen/back pain for 3 years. Lots of tests and even had my gall bladder out last month but now it is actually worse. I have a clicking rib in the front and have pointed it out to several doctors who don’t even feel it themselves but just tell me that is typical of a floating rib. The area is actually not at the very bottom of my rib cage. I was just wondering if anyone else has abdomen pain as a result of slipping rib. Thanks!

  10. Crystal

    I originally thought that I injured my shoulder joint (found I had tendinosis as well). Turns out, that the main cause of the pain was actually a rib that kept popping out of place. It took a sports physiotherapist to find it after I pointed out the area that hurt. It often pops out several times a day, sitting in a vehicle is the worst, and even sitting in an ergonomic chair I relax a bit and it pops out. It is my 3rd rib on my back everytime.
    My ligaments and tendons are looser than they should be (I can easily dislocate my fingers if I don’t do strengthening exercises).
    Took a bit, but now I can usually pop my rib back in with a golf ball against the wall (or if I am desperate, just by leaning against the corner of a wall exhaling and pushing back). I will have to try the tennis ball on the floor trick, as well as the grabbing the knees and rolling on the back.
    Physio as helped some – in my case, mostly keep your back straight (don’t slouch or let your shoulder roll forward) and lots of rowing exercises to strengthen up that muscle (using a rowing machine, or just a yoga elastic band).
    If the rib is really stubborn, then I need the chiropractor or physiotherapist to knock it back in.

  11. Bryony Bair

    Have you ever heard of ehlers danlos syndrome??? I have it and my ribs dislocate daily along with other joints! I also have arthritis in my spine and other joints and degenerative discs disease and fibromyalgia and an entire list of medical issues caused from the lack if collagen in my body! I could go on for days!! Please look into this!

  12. Judi

    Just wondering, has anyone know of a child with slipped rib syndrome. My 9 year old grand daughter has been diagnosed and it is heart breaking to see her in so much pain. Was hospitalized for 5 days, sent home with an epidural and medication for three days). She is still on pain meds and is seeing a Physical Therapist at this time. She has missed many days of school and it is hard for her to concentrate being in pain. We as a family feel frustrated and at a loss as to what to do in helping her. She did have a cold and severe cough prior to this AND she is a competitive swimmer. ALSO – she had pancreatitis two months prior to this.

    • I have never met anyone personally with Slipping Rib Syndrome, and only know others through this blog. I hope you find something that works, maybe look into prolotherapy, or chiropractics. KK had surgery when she was young.

    • Crystal

      I have had problems with slipping ribs since 2009. I am just starting to get ahead of them now.
      I have a physiotherapist search for any slipped ribs weekly and put them back into place. Then use a muscle stimulator on them to loosen them up. Sleeping on my side always causes at least one to slip out. Which is a heartache since I loved to sleep on my side.
      I have found rowing exercises and using weights on a daily basis helped greatly. Especially where I take the weights and hold them straight in front of me and then move my arms to the sides. I do it pretty quickly and it loosens up some muscles that tend to lock up in my sternum due to slipped ribs – keeping them loose helps keep the ribs in place. I use 5-8lb weights for this. If you hear pops from your sternum and a bit of an ache later, that is normal as certain muscles here seize up regularly, especially if you have ribs popping out along your spine.
      I find if any of my ribs are out, they are a bit sore to the touch along the sides of the spine – if one is out, the muscles inflame and cause pain. If they are put back in, the inflammation goes down in 2-4 hours and the pain disappears. Took me a couple of years, but now I can tell whenever one ribs comes out. Pain killers rarely work unless the cause (popped rib) is corrected.
      At this point my family is pretty good at getting my ribs back in when I lay on the floor and they put some weight on a heel on the offending rib. I exhale and relax as they “step” and it generally pops in with no issues. Keeping in mind the main 3 offending ribs have popped in and out so often that they go back in with little resistance. If a rib pops out that rarely pops out, it takes the physiotherapist or chiropractor to get it back in.

      If you are in a church, looking into meeting the elders/pastor for some healing prayer. 3 of my ribs have never popped out since my one hour long healing prayer session. I may have to go back and see if they can pray for my 4th facet joint and convince my 2 other ribs to behave.

    • Jen

      Judi, hello, I’m Jen. My 16 year old daughter was sat on by a classmate in 2014. After many misdiagnosis, she was correctly diagnosed with slipped rib syndrome. She actually had to have 2 ribs removed because they had slipped into cartlidge, Nothing has relieved her pain. We are still searching for relief.

      • Crystal

        After years of trying to ease the pain myself, my physiotherapist and me are finally getting some results with using weights daily. I use ten pound weights, I have a few main exercises. I let my arms hang down with elbows straight and lift straight sideways without bending my arm until it is above my head – go slowly on this one. I also have one where I hold weights at a 90 degree angle against my chest and slowly pivot my arms until I can’t twist my arm back any more – keep you back straight on this one.
        For those with ribs that slipped out along the spine and it is a regular occurrence, simply laying facedown on the floor and having someone lean their weight down in that little dip beside the spine can pop it back in. At this point I can also use a shepherd’s hook (physiotherapy tool – about $30) to pop a rib back in or even use a corner of a wall in a pinch.
        Best of luck to anyone still suffering.

  13. Kk

    I was diagnosed in 2007, at the age of 16, with slipped rib syndrome; after months of seeing doctors trying to determine the cause of my pain and shortness of breath. I could also feel and hear the rib popping out of place, with exersion – even when I laughed. It was terrible!
    I was referred to a cardio thoracic surgeon who performed what I was told to be an “experimental surgery” on me, where he attempted to reattach the ribs to the cartilage.
    Before the surgery I was hardly able to make it up the stairs of my home. Recovery was terrible, but well worth it.
    After maybe 2-3 months I was back to being active and feeling great!
    And years later, even after pregnancy, (it will still pop about every once in awhile), but I am able to live life to the fullest. Very rare minimal pain.
    Thanks to the surgery I am soon graduating and am able to save my patients lives. Without the surgery, I truly do not believe I’d be anywhere close to where I am in life today.

    • THank you for sharing this story. Stories like yours is one of the reasons I started this blog, because I had so much trouble finding other stories likes mine, and oddly so did my doctors. I am so glad you are doing so much better and had a doctor willing to help you.

      • Katie

        I’m glad I found this thread too. I also have this syndrome and I’ve had problems with my ribs for the past 7 years. Every time it happens I see a chiropractor. Sometimes it’s fixed right after the appt but most the time it takes 2-3 visits which gets really expensive. I haven’t seen an actual doctor about my condition since it first happened when I was 19, but at the time they told me there was nothing they could do. There really isn’t much online about this and there aren’t many people that have heard of it. Everyone that knows me thinks it is so bizarre my ribs pop out and it’s the most painful unfortunate thing that happens all too frequently now. I am currently in moderate to severe pain in my mid left side which also makes my upper left back hurt as well as its pulling on muscles. Tomorrow will be my third time seeing a chiropractor this week. Friday I am seeing my PP to figure out if I can get a X-ray or Mri or even just his opinion, it’s a different doctor than the one I went to initially. I’m hoping he has some sort of recommendation. Is there any other techniques to self adjusting ribs? Chiropractors are expensive and I need to figure this out on my own. Looks like there’s really not a lot of solutions out there that are permanent which really is disheartening. I’m hoping someone can shed some more light on this and provide some remedies that at least temporarily work to relieve the pain or put ribs back in place. I tried Rolling on the floor but it didn’t do much. Thanks for everyone’s feedback on this thread so far. Good info, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  14. April Meehan

    @Kk, where do you live, and who did your surgery?? I have suffered from this for 8 years! I live in California, and have seen many doctors, have had injections, and chiropractic care. It is so bad, I cannot sleep on my right side or put any pressure on it. At this point, I am desperate to find relief, but so frustrated at going to more doctors!
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  15. Brenda

    OMG, this is fantastic! I am only 3 weeks into this but I swear sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind because it hurts to breathe! I haven’t gotten an “official” diagnosis of slipping rib syndrome, but have been told I have a rib out of place and it won’t stay in. I go to the chiropractor 3 times a week and it will go back in for a few hours, but then the pain is back. I am going to print this blog out and try some of the suggestions you guys have given for getting it back in place without going bankrupt going to the chiropractor!! Thank you everyone!!

    • I went through this same sort of thing for so long. Prolotherapy made the biggest difference for me. I hate to say it but it was a long process for me, but long worth it. I still have some problems, but I probably only NEED to go to the chiropractor because of pain four or so times a year, I recently signed up for a monthly service though, because I know its better for me to go more often. Originally I was going three or four times a week, and and it would last sometimes a few minutes to a few hours before my ribs would go right back out again. With Prolotherapy the cartalidge started to heal itself, and now I can do so many things, like sneeze, imagine..haha…and I have even zip lined and salsa danced, in the last few years, but still an unexpected speed bump will wreck havock.

  16. This post was very helpful, as were the comments. Thank you everyone.

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