slipping rib syndrome

What is Slipping Rib Syndrome?

April 5, 2019

The slipping rib syndrome is the misalignment of the ribs from its supposed original position. It is a rare condition although may potentially affect anyone regardless of danger.

The slipping rib syndrome is usually caused by ligaments that are slipping out of position and in turn, lead to the misalignment of the ribs or rib. Learn more about the condition here.

The Slipping Rib Syndrome

The slipping rib syndrome happens when the ribs slip from their original position. So, how does this happen?

The ligaments of the ribs are usually the ones holding the rib intact on its original place. When the ligaments start to move and shift, the ribs that they are holding, slips and shifts too. The common reason for the occurrence of the slipping rib syndrome is if you had injuries or traumas caused by a daunting force either through sports, car accidents, and many more.

The ribs that are attached to the midrib bone, is not usually attacked by the slipping rib syndrome because they are firmly held by the midrib bone. The lower rib bones are the usual victims of the slipping rib syndrome. They are just being held together by ligaments. This makes the lower rib have more flexibility in terms of movement and breathing. When these ligaments fail to support themselves, the ribs that they held together are affected too.

The Symptoms of the Slipping Rib Syndrome

The symptoms of slipping rib syndrome can be quite bothersome. The affected area will sometimes develop inflammation, and at some point, you might feel a bothersome pain on the area. Because your lower ribs are surrounded by muscles, nerves, and tissues, pain is inevitable. The surrounding areas of the rib can be most likely affected.

For example, you might develop back pain, a pain in your abdomen, and the side muscles of your back. Another symptom of slipping rib syndrome can be a bothersome clicking feeling in the area where the syndrome is currently occurring. You might also have difficulty in breathing. If it comes to a point where you find it difficult to breathe already, please have it checked.

Some of your movements will be restrained too because elaborate movements can be associated with pain. The rib is slipping from its position and flexing your body can make the rib put pressure on a certain part of your muscles. This might cause pain.

Usually, there is only one rib that will be attacked by the slipping rib syndrome but let us not rule out the possibility of it attacking only one rib.

Reasons Why You Have The Slipping Rib Syndrome

Slipping rib syndrome has several reasons why it is happening. The ones mentioned below are some of the most common causes of slipping rib syndrome.

1. The Slipping Rib Syndrome Can Be Caused by Respiratory Issues

There is no concrete known causes why the slipping rib syndrome happens. Doctors can only logically pinpoint it with an indirect illness or complication, for example, respiratory illnesses. The inflammation of the chest and the complications that can occur to it might affect the strength of the ligaments too.

2. Hypermobility

Hypermobility can both be a good and bad thing all at the same time. Having this in your lower ribs makes it possible for you to have flexibility above average. Meaning, you have an extra flexibility capability that some person can only dream of. The downside of it is hypermobility makes you more susceptible to the slipping rib syndrome.

3. If You Have a Weak Ligaments Around Your Lower Ribs

If your lower ribs are inherently hypermobile, there is a good chance that your ligaments in there are also weak. Weak ligaments are susceptible to shifting the positions of the ribs.

How Do Doctors Diagnose The Slipping Rib Syndrome

The slipping rib syndrome has a lot of symptoms that are quite similar to the other conditions. To try to rule all those out, the doctor will usually do several tests for confirmation. First, the doctor will try to get as much as information as he would want regarding the symptoms that you are feeling, the depth of the symptoms, the timeline of the symptoms, and many more.

There are several tests that doctors usually do to confirm his suspicion of the slipping rib syndrome, but the hooking maneuver test might be the most important and relevant test in diagnosing the slipping rib syndrome. The hooking maneuver test is a simple test that requires no surgical methods, and in most times, you would not feel any pain when the doctor does this to you. In the hooking maneuver test, the doctor will hook his fingers up to the suspicious rib and will try to move it upward and back. If the rib causes pain, discomfort or moves in a particularly weird way, then the diagnostics could be positive.

Treatment of the Slipping Rib Syndrome

To relieve some of the symptoms of slipping rib syndrome which is linked to pain, painkillers can be administered to suppress the pain. The condition of the slipping rib syndrome can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, to severe. Depending on the level or the severity of your case, the treatments will all be different. Below are the common treatments for mild to moderate slipping rib syndrome cases:

  1. Physical therapy
  2. Temperature compression
  3. Stretching exercise
  4. Pain killers
  5. Veering away from physically demanding activities

Medical Treatments of the Slipping Rib Syndrome

  1. Corticosteroid injections
  2. Botulinum toxin treatment
  3. Prolotherapy
  4. Ultrasound therapy

Below are the things that you can do by yourself to prevent and treat your slipping rib syndrome:

  1. Breathing Practices: Breathing in and out yoga style. This will exercise your ribs;
  2. Veering away from strenuous physical activities.


What is slipping rib syndrome?

Last reviewed Sunday, 24 December 2017 By Bethany Cadman

Reviewed by William Morrison, MD