Rib Injuries – Physio Treatment
Physiotherapists can effectively assess and treat rib injuries from the acute presentation through to chronic rib lesions. Acute rib injuries are usually traumatic and occur most commonly as a result of a sporting incident. However, rib injuries may also be of insidious onset and gradually get worse without any specific incident of note.
With an acute rib injury the patient usually presents experiencing sharp fairly localised pain with deep breathing and coughing. Pain may be felt at the costovertebral joints in the middle back, the sternocostal joints at the front of the chest, or right through the chest wall. A rib fracture will be painful over the site of the injury, which is usually on the side of the chest wall.
A localised acute inflammatory condition, chondritis, can also occur at the sternocostal joints at the front of the chest, particularly in females. Often there is palpable swelling and extreme tenderness over one or more joints.
Chronic rib injuries can be the result of repetitious activities placing stress upon the costo-vertebral or costo-sternal joints over a period of time, eventually leading to pain and dysfunction.