Rib pain… What causes it?

treating rib pain

Do you experience rib pain often? If so, you’re not alone. Rib pain can be caused by a variety of things, some of which are relatively harmless and others that can be quite serious. In this blog post, we will discuss the various causes of rib pain and how chiropractic care can help.

What Causes Rib Pain?

There are a number of things that can cause rib pain, some related to skeletal issues and some more serious problems. Check out this article for an insight into the clinical complexity of spinal pain in the thoracic spine. https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/pdf/HC20027 By simply touching base with us for an assessment, we might help you work through this symptom fast.


Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a viral infection that can cause severe pain in the ribs. This is because the virus affects the nerves that run along the ribs. The pain from shingles can be so severe that it is often described as burning or stabbing. It is important to rule this out before moving on with treatment.


The chest area can be a secondary site for cancers such as melanoma, and rib pain may be caused by secondary tumours. While this is not as common, it is still important to consider when trying to determine the cause of rib pain. If you have had malignant melanoma in the past or you have a family history of it, this needs to be reported to the chiropractor. Dermatology is not a chiropractors expertise and you will need regular check in with your specialist.

Spinal Issues

When more serious problems have been ruled out, rib pain is usually caused by spinal issues. In many cases, the costotransverse joint (where the rib meets the spine) becomes dysfunctional and leads to pain. This is often due to poor posture, stiffness or repetitive motions that cause an imbalance. A sprain to a joint capsule causes rib pain, however thoracic disc or joint pain is also very common. In areas where the spine meets the ribs, general wear and tear, amplified by poor posture or overuse, may cause rib pain insidiously.

Herniated thoracic spine discs are very uncommon but can be serious. Osteoarthritis, caused by the breakdown of cartilage around the joint, may also lead to stiffness, muscle cramps and ache. Abberant respiratory patterns can lead to the intercostal muscle developing tightness leading to a feeling of tightness in the ribcage.

By adjusting the spine, improving your mobility, posture and increasing the strength of your spinal endurance muscles, you may be able to manage your rib pain. Unfortunately, most people do not realise that their rib pain actually starts in their back, so they don’t get the right treatment initially.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Chiropractic care focuses on the spine and nervous system, which means that it can be effective in treating a wide variety of issues, including rib pain. If you are experiencing rib pain, chiropractic care can help you arrive at a diagnosis, commence treatment or refer you for other evaluations. By improving the mobility of the spine, you can stop the segmental discs and joints in your back from stiffening against one another and relieve pressure over time.

If your rib pain is due to a herniated disc, chiropractic care can help relieve the pressure on your spinal column and improve your symptoms.

If you are looking for a natural way to relieve your rib pain, chiropractic care may be the answer. Chiropractic care is safe, gentle, and effective, and it can help you get to the root of your problem.

Here is one of Ben’s favourites thoracic mobility stretches for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVDLejdRYVY

For more diverse and progressive mobility routine try these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CrX59ulj9U

At Waterloo Chiropractic, we take a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes chiropractic adjustments and exercises. Get in touch today if you are struggling with rib pain and we can give you the relief you need. Book online: https://waterloochiropractic.cliniko.com/bookings?business_id=8196

Read more
Call For Appointment