Information about conditions is provided as a service to our patients for educational purposes only. "If you understand your condition, you will be able to do the things necessary to rehabilitate much faster." Please feel free to print the information so that you can refer to it often. Sharing of information is quite risky, however. Do not presume that information is meant for you if you have not seen the doctor and received a specific diagnosis. Some conditions share similar symptoms but require very different treatment. If you have friends or family who may have similar symptoms, please schedule an appointment to see the doctor.

Rib Injuries (Costochondral seperation, Rib fracture)



The 12 ribs on each side of your chest may be bruised, strained, broken, or separated. All of the ribs are attached to the vertebrae (backbone) in the rear. In the front, 10 of them are attached to the sternum (breastbone) by pieces of cartilage. Direct blows to the ribs may bruise or break the ribs or injure the rib cartilage. The ribs may tear away from the cartilage that attaches them to the breastbone. This tearing away from the cartilage is called a costochondral separation.

How does it occur? Rib injuries usually result from a direct blow to the chest wall. Breaks usually occur in the curved portion of the outer part of the rib cage. A costochondral separation may occur from trauma, when you land hard on your feet, or even when you cough or sneeze violently.


What are the symptoms? A rib injury causes pain and tenderness over the place of injury. You may have pain when you breathe, move, laugh, or cough.

How is it diagnosed? The doctor will review your symptoms, examine your rib cage, and listen to your lungs. He or she may order a chest x-ray to look for rib damage, lung damage, or bleeding around the lungs.

How is it treated? To help your injury heal, your provider may recommend that you:

  • Rest.
  • Put an ice pack over the injured rib for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days or until the pain goes away.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen, bromelain) or other pain medicine.
  • High Volt Electrostimulation, this increases the bodys' reperative process and decreases pain.
  • Ultra Sound, this increases circulation to the area and increases healing and also decreases pain.
  • Wear a rib belt, which your health care provider may suggest for very painful injuries. The belt works as a girdle for your chest and helps support your ribs. It limits movement of your ribs when you cough, breathe, or move your body in other ways. This helps decrease pain. If you wear a rib belt, your provider will give you breathing exercises to help you avoid lung complications.

When can I return to my sport or activity? The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your sport or activity will be determined by how soon your ribs recover, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better.

If you broke a rib, it may take 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Your health care provider may take an x-ray to see that the bone has healed before he or she allows you to return to your activity, especially if it is a contact sport. You may participate in noncontact activities sooner if you can do so without pain in your ribs and without pain when you breathe. If you have bruised your ribs or separated the cartilage from the ribs, you may return to your activity when you can do so without pain.

We offer treatment of these conditions at various levels for all patients. We expect that you will follow this treatment plan through to its logical conclusion of restoration of complete function and rehabilitation. Our management system is designed to help you remember all of your appointments and to be fully compliant with all of our recommendations. At any time, should you decide to discontinue the process, please just let us know so that we don't become a bother.

LIFE STYLE CHANGES: Long periods of sitting should be interrupted by standing and stretching. Do not sleep or lie on your stomach and avoid activities that hyper extend the lower back.

SUPPLEMENTATION: Glucoseamine Sulphate and Trace Minerals: Have proven effective in long-term prevention of deterioration of joint tissues. This may help reduce the mechanical breakdown associated with posterior joint syndrome.

HOME REMEDIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Utilize moist heat packs on a daily basis during the first phase of treatment. This will help relax tight muscle fibers and bring blood to the region. Hot tubs and baths provide temporary relief. Exercises should be specific and in a particular order. They should be simple and aimed at stabilization at first. Seek advice from your chiropractic physician on when to do these exercises and how often. When performed correctly, rehabilitation exercises can be the key to avoiding multiple episodes of low back pain and maintaining the function of the low back muscles and joints.

MAINTENANCE: Regular spinal adjustments are important to reduce the symptoms of posterior joint syndrome. Patients who receive monthly spinal manipulation and therapy report fewer complications with posterior joint syndrome. It is important that you follow your physician's advice about the frequency of treatment for your particular condition.

Expectations We understand that you have come here for help. We have spent many years learning the best ways to solve the problems of mechanical back and neck pain. We expect you to comply with our recommendations and follow our treatment schedule completely regardless of the treatment plan you have. We expect you to set all of the recommended appointments at times convenient for you and we expect you to keep all of them. We expect you to respond favorably and know that your 100% compliance is the determining factor. We also expect you to attend our next class on Absolute Spinal Health. The staff can give you a schedule of the next class.

Other Information At our class on Absolute Spinal Health, we discuss mechanical conditions of the back, neck and spine and teach you ways to prevent mechanical conditions from occurring. We also offer a wide variety of health information at our web site. All patients are welcome to use our information to improve your life and maintenance your spinal health.

Follow our wellness recomendations for absolute health.

Holladay Physical Medicine - 4211 Holladay Blvd. Salt Lake City, UT - 801-272-8471 Please read the Disclaimer