Are you surprised to know that physical therapy can help people with rib pain? It’s definitely one of the Stranger Things we treat, and many are not aware that we are experts in alleviating pain around the ribs.

How do we know it is rib pain and not something else? The golden rule of thumb is – “Can you Reproduce the Pain?”  This means if you can move and maneuver to worsen the pain around your ribs or certain positions make the pain better, then the culprit is likely your ribs and physical therapy is your go-to for getting rid of it. If nothing you do changes the pain, then you may have another medical condition that requires attention. However, if you find that movement will better or worsen the pain, then keep reading so that I can show you how physical therapy can help you.

To understand rib pain, we must first understand the anatomy and how it affects us. There are technically 12 ribs that attach to the corresponding thoracic vertebra in the middle of your back. The job of the ribs is to help with breathing, but also to protect the vital organs that help keep you alive and breathing.

You have 7 true ribs meaning they attach to the sternum or the chest bone.

You have 3 false ribs meaning they attach to cartilage instead of directly to the sternum or chest bone.

You have 2 floating ribs that do not have attachments to the front of your chest and they stop about halfway around your side.

Below is a short video showing how the ribs move during breathing.


So now that we know how ribs move, let’s talk about how physical therapy can help them. Do you have pain when you take a deep breath? Do you have pain when you roll over in bed? Do you have pain in the rib area when you turn from side to side? Is it worse when you sit up straight or bend forward?

If this is you, then I have good news!

Our experts will be able to pinpoint which rib or ribs are not moving efficiently and which are causing the pain. We can help you improve the quality of movement of the rib and the vertebra so that the rib can move efficiently and freely, while also improving the soft tissue around the ribs. To start your journey to a better pain-free life, contact us for your initial evaluation.  Or if you would like to talk to one of our experts first, ask for a free Discovery Session where we can answer all of your questions.