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  • Catherine Wasik


Updated: Jun 7, 2023

The rib cage is a structure of 12 ribs located bilaterally from the thoracic spine to the sternum, 7 ribs directly to the sternum, 3 ribs attach via a common cartilage to the sternum and 2 ribs are free floating. There are several groups of muscles and ligaments that are associated with the rib cage for stability and mobility of the rib and spinal tissues. Injury to any of these structures can cause pain to the thoracic region and local pain to the rib joints.

In the popping or slipping rib syndrome the rib may protrude more than its neighbouring ribs due to the cartilage in the lower ribs slipping, and click or pop on movement or coughing. Other names for the syndrome include clicking rib, displaced ribs, and interchondral subluxation. It is most common in females, and although not well understood, is thought to be associated with trauma and/or hypermobility. The symptoms of slipping rib syndrome vary from person to person, but mostly include: intermittent sharp stabbing pain in the upper abdomen or back, followed by a

dull achy sensation; slipping, popping or clicking sensations in the lower ribs; difficulty breathing when in pain; worsening symptoms when bending, lifting, coughing, sneezing, deep breathing; stretching or turning in bed; mostly one sided symptoms.

Treatment for popping/slipping rib syndrome In some cases the condition can resolve on its own. Home treatment can include resting; avoiding strenuous activities; applying heat or ice to affected area; taking painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories, doing stretching exercises and hypopressive breathing exercises. If pain continues after the above home treatments further intervention such as physical therapy (osteopathy/physiotherapy), corticosteroid injection, and intercostal nerve blocks may give the ease required.

Contact details: for more information and advice: Catherine Wasik BSc Hons Ost; BSc Hons MNIMH Registered Osteopath and Medical Herbalist, With acupuncture training and rehabilitation pilates instructor training At George Morris Physiotherapy Clinics in Hindley and Ashton Direct line: 07828261152;


Website: Herbal Osteopathic Life

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