Accessibility View Close toolbar
Open mobile navigation

Rib pain

Rib pain can either be one of the easiest problems to fix for a Chiropractor or one of the hardest. Sometimes an injury or awkward movement (like a sneeze while hunching over) can throw a rib right out of place. A little muscle work and the correct adjustment may be all you need. This is the old “one and done” situation. Other times, postural problems or scapular dysfunction can create problems with the muscles in the back that create more chronic (long term) rib pathology. In this case, the underlying dysfunction will need to be addressed, or the rib problem will return, or possibly never really resolve.

Let’s take a look at the area that most often causes a rib problem.

There are many layers of muscles across the back, all of which can be relevant to rib pain. You can see here that the ribs connect to the spine in the back. The levator costae muscles, attach to the ribs. Their job is to help elevate those ribs during breathing and other motions. If there is dysfunction or misalignment in the spine, then these muscles will have to work overtime, spasm, and can become tight and tender. When this occurs, the constant tension can pull that rib head out of alignment. This leads to stress, inflammation, and further spasm & tenderness of the surrounding musculature. Now every time you take a breath, especially a deep one, the pain is intense and can even travel in the rib cage around to the side or front. Labored and painful breathing is a sign of rib pain, but can also mean something more serious.

Treatment for chronic rib dysfunction will usually include correcting misalignments of the spine, manipulation of the soft tissue, therapies targeting muscle spasms and pain, correcting postural abnormalities, correcting scapular dysfunction, and of course… manipulation of the rib itself.

Once in a while, a patient may also present with dysfunction in the sternum and costal cartilages. This is a problem with the front of the chest. In this area, there aren’t technically any ribs, but rib cartilage. You see the ribs stop being bone in the front part of the chest and instead become cartilaginous before they connect to the sternum. When a patient has irritation in the front of the chest, the diagnosis is typically costochondritis. This literally means inflammation of the rib cartilage. A person who experiences these problems often has forward rolled shoulders and forward head carriage. This is really a completely different presentation than rib pain in the back, though the two can be related. In this case, correcting those postural abnormalities is key to improving the condition. Manipulation is typically not possible until the cartilages can be unloaded from the compressive forces of the abnormal posture, simply because they are just too painful to move.

Chest pain of any sort can indicate a very serious problem. So, if you are experiencing sudden chest pain, it is not a good idea to wait. The issue may warrant emergency procedures, especially if you have any difficulty breathing, impending sense of doom, a feeling of significant pressure in your chest, sweating, fever, vomiting, cough, recent cold, or rapid pulse. A trip to the emergency room may be life-saving. However, if this is localized pain without any accompanying symptoms, and it has been going on for several weeks or more, it is not likely an emergency situation. If it is not an emergency situation, or if a physician has already cleared you of any life-threatening conditions, your next call should be to a Chiropractor.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule


9:30 am-1:30 pm

3:00 pm-7:00 pm


9:30 am-1:30 pm

3:00 pm-7:00 pm


9:30 am-1:30 pm

3:00 pm-7:00 pm


9:30 am-1:30 pm

3:00 pm-7:00 pm


9:30 am-2:00 pm





Our Location

Find us on the map


Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Dr Fields and company are amazing! I was having terrible back and neck pain and Dr Fields came to me highly recommended to me by a close friend. He carefully explained to me what was happening and how he could help. After just a few sessions I so much better!! He is the BEST!!"
    Sarah Murray
  • "Dr Fields is exceptional. He works very hard to rehab physical issues, listens to your comments, and takes more time working with patients vs others I have worked with. No doubt the best I have visited."
    Denny Dean
  • "Dr. Fields is outstanding! He took the time to address my issues in detail and clearly explained what my options for care are. He and his staff are fantastic! I could not recommend them more!"
    Luke Brown

Featured Articles

  • Chiropractic and Breech Babies During Pregnancy

    If you are experiencing back pain during your pregnancy or have a breech pregnancy, chiropractic can help. ...

    Read More
  • Natural Remedies for Sciatic Pain

    Do you experience sciatica pain? Both chiropractic care and at-home remedies can help alleviate that pain in a natural way. ...

    Read More
  • Chiropractic Care For Pets

    You know how chiropractic can help you, but what about your pets? ...

    Read More
  • Should I Use Heat or Ice for Pain?

    When you're feeling pain, sometimes it's difficult to determine if heat or ice will treat that pain best. This article will help you learn which is best for different types of injuries and pain. ...

    Read More
  • Should I Use Ice or Heat for Pain?

    Did you hurt your knee during an intense game of pick-up basketball this weekend? Or do you deal with chronic pain? Learn whether you should apply heat or ice for particular kinds of pain. ...

    Read More
  • Relationship with Self

    The relationship you have with yourself and the journey to self-understanding is an important part of your overall wellness. ...

    Read More
  • Indoor Activities and Exercises

    Are you preparing for the winter months or looking for exercises to do when you can't make it to the gym? Follow these exercises to maintain a healthy fitness routine. ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Stress - Take a Deep Breath

    Most of us pay little attention, if any, to the daily functioning of our many physiological systems. Our hearts beat, our digestive systems digest, and our various hormones, such as those deriving from the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and pancreas, do what they do. It's all good... until it's not. ...

    Read More
  • Proper Overindulgence Over the Holidays

    Proper Overindulgence Over The Holidays The term "overindulgence" is probably best assessed as a red flag, especially with respect to consistent overconsumption of high-calorie comfort food and desserts during the holiday season. An overall healthier perspective could be described as "indulgence" regarding ...

    Read More
  • The 5 Senses

    The 5 Senses The five senses, that is, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, provide us with necessary information regarding the world around us.1 These precious capabilities enable us to navigate our environment with seemingly instantaneous feedback with reference to our actions and ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup