RIB TISSUE PAIN AND DYSFUNCTION
PATIENT: “But doc, why am I still having the same pain that I came in here with in the first place?”
DOCTOR: (deer-in-the-headlights look) “That is a great question Mr. Jones. Just take your medicine and be sure to ask your family doctor when you see him later this week.”
If you think I am over-exaggerating, you would be wrong. I see at least a couple patients a month (often more), who have been through a similar scenario. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want people showing up in my office in the middle of a heart attack. But something is rotten in Denmark when it takes several days, a $50,000 ride in the Air-Evac chopper, and the better part of a hundred grand to (incorrectly) tell someone that there is ‘nothing‘ wrong with them!
ANATOMY OF THE RIB CAGE AND CONNECTIVE TISSUES FOUND THERE
An important fact to remember is that ribs move. I know that ribs feel like they are anchored to the spine, but trust me — they move. You can feel this simply by putting your hands on your ribs and breathing deeply. When ribs do not move properly, not only can it hurt (sometimes terribly), it almost always hurts specifically to cough, breathe, sneeze, laugh, hiccup, etc. There are two main reasons for this.
I frequently see patients who have ribs “out”. The technical term for this condition is SUBLUXATION. In a nutshell, subluxation means that bones or joints are either misaligned or not moving properly in relationship to each other. Bear in mind that this is something which, while extremely painful, is almost always too subtle to show up on an x-ray. One of the beauties of treating people with subluxated ribs is that they usually respond to an adjustment immediately. When they do not, I start to think that there could be FASCIAL ADHESIONS restricting rib motion and causing pain. Most people are not aware of just how much connective tissue attaches to ribs (think about it next time you are chowing down on a stack of BBQ). Much of this is fascia, although there are LIGAMENTS, TENDONS, and MUSCLES as well. Let’s look at a few pictures of the numerous tissues that attach to ribs.
Rib tissues can be injured in a variety of ways. Coughing and sneezing are a couple of common ones. Throwing is also a fairly common way to injure these tissues (especially throwing something really heavy like a chunk of firewood as you twist your body). As you can imagine, rib injuries are common in SPORTS. Not only are they found in contact sports like football, but they are also found frequently in baseball, softball, and even golf (swinging a bat or golf club can tear rib tissues and put even the ‘heavy hitters’ on the D.L.). If you suspect that you have injured the Connective Tissues of the ribs, give us a call. In the meantime, HERE and HERE are some blog posts on Rib Tissue Pain.