As you grow older, you may notice that certain aches and pains are more persistent than others. If you suffer from relentless, undiagnosed pain in your chest or abdomen, you may be suffering from a condition known as slipping rib syndrome or Tietze's syndrome. Below is an in-depth look at what slipping rib syndrome is, how it happens and what you need to know to fix it.
Slipping rib syndrome or Tietze's syndrome was first discovered by Dr. Alexander Tietze in the early 1920s. Over the years, science and research have evolved to better understand Tietze's syndrome. Because this syndrome is rare, it is often misdiagnosed as a standard dislocated rib. Misdiagnoses can result in chronic pain that lasts for years.
Tietze's syndrome happens when the cartilage that connects the front of your ribs to your breastbone becomes weak. The cartilage eventually becomes too weak to keep the ribs in place, causing them to slip out of place.
3 Signs of a Slipping Rib
- Slipping rib syndrome primarily affects the lower ribs in the front of the body. Since these lower ribs are affected, when they are dislodged from their proper place, severe pain can be felt in the upper abdomen or lower part of the chest. This pain can be worse when you are laughing, breathing deeply, or coughing.
- Tenderness in the costal margin of the rib cage. This area of the body is the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. You don't have to suffer from both chronic abdominal and chest pain to have slipping rib syndrome. You may just have extreme tenderness in this area when examined.
- Pain during palpation of the ribs is another sign of slipping rib syndrome. A trained professional will carefully manipulate the bones in the chest to find tender spots. Trained medical professionals can identify the difference between a fully dislocated rib and a rib that has slipped out of the cartilage holding it in place.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Unfortunately, common methods of diagnosis like MRI testing and X-rays are ineffective for slipping rib syndrome. These types of tests will show that everything is in order because the cartilage is still intact and the slippage of the rib may be extremely minimal. To more accurately diagnose slipping rib syndrome, a hook maneuver will be performed by your medical professional or chiropractor. This is done by gently hooking their hands around the lower portion of your ribs. If extreme pain is felt, you likely have slipping rib syndrome.
This ailment can be treated two ways:
- Manual manipulation through chiropractic therapy
- Surgical implantation of intercostal nerve blocks
If you find yourself suffering from severe pain that radiates in your lower chest cavity or upper abdomen and you've had little success in a proper diagnosis, you may be suffering from slipping rib syndrome. Consult with a chiropractor clinic or other medical professional as quickly as possible to get a proper diagnosis that can put an end to your chronic pain.