If you’ve ever felt a sharp pain when sneezing or found it mildly difficult to breathe for a short period, you may have sprained a rib. Rib sprains, commonly associated with prolonged or repetitive movements, can affect people from all walks of life and can be uncomfortable if not correctly diagnosed or treated.

Fortunately, osteopathy has been shown to be highly effective in treating and healing rib sprains. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at a rib sprain’s mechanics, causes, and symptoms, as well as how you can best manage and improve your condition using osteopathy and other management techniques.

What Are Rib Sprains?

To better understand rib sprains, consider the structure of a rib: each rib has a joint that connects to the spine and then curves around to connect to your breast bone, known as the sternum, via another joint. Your ribs are also supported by ligaments and muscles, which allow your ribs to expand or contract when you breathe.

A rib sprain occurs when the ligaments (connective tissue) that connect the rib to your spine sprain in the same way an ankle sprain does, through excessive, sustained load or repetitive movements.

What Causes Rib Sprains?

Some of the more risk factors of rib sprains include the following:

  • Poor Posture: Bad posture can lead to undue pressure being placed on the rib cage and causing a sprained rib. Posture-related rib sprains are most common in office workers, who may develop poor sitting positions or have less-than-comfortable chairs to sit on.
  • Awkward Sleeping Position: Sleeping at a particularly awkward angle may place additional stress on your ribs for an extended time, causing rib sprains.
  • Overexerting Your Body: Carrying or lifting heavy objects frequently overloads the supportive structure of your upper back and neck, making you more prone to rib sprains. Rib sprains can also occur when your upper body is suddenly overexerted, such as when lifting heavy luggage.
  • Inappropriate Undergarment Support: Tight undergarments may place too much pressure on the chest area, and wearing them for a prolonged time may cause rib sprains.
  • Sudden Physical Trauma: Sudden strikes to the chest (contact sports, falls, car accidents, and so on) can damage the rib cage and surrounding muscles, leading to sprained ribs.
  • Chronic Medical Conditions: Conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may make an individual more susceptible to rib sprains.

Symptoms Of Rib Sprains

Rib sprain symptoms typically manifest themselves as:

  • Pain or stiffness in the upper and middle back
  • Chest, rib, and shoulder pains
  • Acute pain in the upper back that can interfere with breathing
  • Muscle spasms, fatigue, or weakness in the chest and upper back
  • Pain that is aggravated by breathing, coughing, sneezing, or rotating your upper body
  • Pain that worsens over time with specific movements or posture positions
  • Significantly reduced mobility as a result of being unable to twist your body due to discomfort
  • Rib joint swelling and inflammation
  • Increased frequency of headaches (postural strain through the neck)

3 Common Causes of Low Back Pain: Stamford Spine: Chiropractic

If you have severe difficulty breathing, extreme pain, are unable to move your body and are unsure about the extent of your rib injuries, it is recommended that you contact emergency services to avoid any complications.

Treating Rib Sprains With Osteopathy

Before you see an osteopath for rib sprain treatment, it’s essential to consult with your GP to rule out any possibility of other cardiac or spinal conditions, especially if you can’t pinpoint any specific injuries that may have led to the symptoms listed above.

Osteopathic treatment of the ribs involves relaxing the surrounding muscles through joint manipulation or using gentler techniques to move the rib back into place. This can include adjusting or manipulating the surrounding area with articulations, soft tissue releases, muscle energy techniques, and other pain-relieving and health-improving techniques.

What Happens The First Time I Visit An Osteo For Rib Sprains?

When visiting an osteo near you for treatment of rib sprains, your osteopath will ask for a brief history of your health and several questions regarding any underlying health conditions or if you have a history of rib sprains.

Once that’s done, your osteopath will begin with a short physical examination of your ribs, upper and lower back, shoulders, neck, and other parts of your musculoskeletal system that can contribute to your symptoms. Afterward, your osteopath will provide you with a diagnosis, treatment plan, recommendations, and management advice for treating and preventing rib sprains.

Visit An Osteopathy Clinic For Rib Sprains Today

If you believe you have a sprained rib, contact your local osteopathy clinic so that a trained osteopath can help you tailor a treatment plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery. As a reminder, contact your GP to ensure you’re suffering from a rib sprain and not something more severe before visiting an osteopath!