Does it hurt to breathe?

Posted in: Neck Pain, Pain, Shoulder Pain | 2

rib pain

Have you ever experienced a sharp pain in your ribs, abs or back from breathing?  There is a possibility that you might have had a “rib out” or a dislocation of your costo-vertebral joint (the joint where the rib joins the vertebrae).

Surprisingly this is more common than you might imagine.  The joint that holds the ribs to the vertebrae is quite weak and shallow giving a range of movement to the ribs.  Unfortunately this means that it is easier for the joint to get out of place.  Typically ribs pop out with something as simple as a sneeze or reaching for something on the top shelf.  The pain comes on quickly and intensely and can feel aggravated with movement or breathing.  When it is new and acute the pain may be felt just about everywhere in the upper body and be triggered by a variety of movents.  After a few days the pain may become more localized to one area (typically along one of the ribs) and to a few different types of movements.  Oftentimes ribs will pop back in on their own, but the best plan of action is to have it treated soon so that things don’t worsen.

I have found success in treating this condition with a combination of acupuncture, massage, mobilizations and stretching techniques.  In a successful treatment the rib literally ‘pops’ back into the joint.

2 Responses

  1. Garry Ghotra

    hey man im having problems, my vertebrae hurts, i cant do much movements other then stay straight, wheni move i head down i feel pain in my chest area which appears to go all the way around to my upper back, it hurts when i breathe, it hurts at almost ne movement i do, can you explain this please, thank you

    • admin


      I’m wondering how it all started. Typically rib out pain starts pretty suddenly as opposed to building up over time. Also, you might have no idea as to how the pain started. Often they can occur from something as simple as coughing, sneezing or reaching for something. If the pain built up gradually over a longer time, or if it came on because of an accident or injury, it might be due to something else. If you are in Toronto, come by for a free consultation. If not, you might want to visit your local massage therapist.