Case Study: Ribs


Our martial arts athlete patient came to us with consistent rib pain.

Jeff was a patient who presented to Ward Chiropractic and Rehabilitation with chronic rib pain that radiated from his mid back around the side of his ribs.  Jeff was a martial arts athlete and his problem was particularly bad during and after training sessions.  This problem had been ongoing for five years.  Jeff had tried physical therapy, pain medications and another chiropractor without lasting relief.

History and examination determined that Jeff had a rib alignment problem.  The rib head was displaced causing localized pain in the mid back.  The radiating pain was caused by irritation of the intercostal nerve which lies in close proximity to the rib.  Jeff’s problem was complicated by the fact that he was a chest dominant breather.  During exertion, his diaphragm was underactive which caused a chest dominant breathing pattern and increased stress on his ribs.

The first part of Jeff’s treatment involved specific chiropractic adjustments to the affected rib head.  After 3 weeks of treatment the proper alignment was restored.  The second part of the treatment focused on increasing core stability to maintain proper position of the rib.  Jeff was a well-trained athlete and had a strong core.  However muscles needed to maintain stability were not firing.  Dr. Ward worked with Jeff on specific exercises to turn on these muscles.  The final part of Jeff’s treatment involved fixing his faulty breathing pattern.  Without this final step, the problem could return.

Jeff was released from active chiropractic treatment after 5 weeks with no pain and no activity limitations.  He was then able to continue his aggressive martial arts training.

*Name and details changed to maintain confidentially.