Back Pain And The Rib Cage: A Case Study

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Misalgined rib cage and back pain

This case study revolves around a client who came to our physiotherapist with complaints about pain around the upper back (the area surrounding the thoracic spine).

The client has had a variety of treatments in the past focusing on the upper back area. However, they had little or no improvement. Therefore, we explored the possibility of a malaligned rib cage.

A malaligned rib cage does not rise or fall equally on both side on inhalation or exhalation. One side of the rib cage may not fall as deeply or rise as high as compared to the other. This is usually caused by one or more ribs being stuck. This will affect the mobility of the adjacent ribs.

The ribs meet your spine at a rather complex joint with several planes of movement. The spinal column at the upper back area is where the ribs are attached to. When your rib cage is not moving smoothly on breathing, it interferes with the smooth workings of the spinal column. Pain will be felt in the area surrounding that joint.

Our physiotherapist will get you to lie down and feel your ribs fall and rise as you breath to determine a malaligned ribcage, and identify the specific rib. The physiotherapist will then treat that particular rib, as well as each rib below. This is to return them into their ideal position.

Case Study Concepts is an educational series to highlight the complex combination of your body’s musculoskeletal system and how they a seemingly un-connected part can affect another. This case study is not to replace professional advice from your doctor or physiotherapist.

Experiencing back pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for back pain relief and how Core Concepts can help