Thoracic and Rib Pain

Do you suffer from thoracic or rib pain that seems to be relentless?  Has breathing or turning your head and trunk become a chore?   Ribs can become displaced with some minor force.  While they never really go out of place that it would be detected on an x-ray, the ribs can come too close each other and the muscle in between two ribs can go into spasm.  This can cause a chronic, achy pain that seems relentless and breathing can become uncomfortable.  While rubbing the area of pain can make it feel momentarily better, physical therapists can complete rib mobilizations, massage of the intercostal muscles, myofascial release and use modalities to eliminate the pain and return the rib to normal placement.

There are 10 stable ribs, and 2 floating ribs in which the skull attaches above and the appendages of the upper extremities attach to the sides and the pelvis attaches with the spine below.  Neck and shoulder pain can be alone or combined with the rib pain.  Lifting your arm over your head to reach in the cabinet, comb your hair or throw a ball will have a direct impact on your ribs.  A rib dysfunction can be a contributing factor of chronic low back pain.  Despite a massage, a strengthening or a stretching program, low back pain that continues to return may be caused by a long-standing rib problem.2

Physical therapists specialize in muscle and nerve dysfunction throughout the body.  The body is a complex and intricate puzzle that requires biomechanical observation skills, along with the hands-on interventions to treat that dysfunction.  Physical therapists at New Dimensions Physical Therapy are skilled to do just that!  Make an appointment today to return to a pain-free lifestyle.

Lila Abbate PT, DPT, OCS, WCS


  1., January 6, 2011.
  2., January 9, 2011.