Rib Flare Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Recommendations, Treatment – Aquavital Physical Therapy Clinic

Definition and Causes of Rib Flare

Rib flare is defined as the protrusion of the ribs, which occurs when the costal angle is greater than 90 degrees. This condition is caused by the misalignment of the thoracic vertebrae and the ribs, which can lead to inflammation, discomfort, and muscle weakness in the surrounding soft tissues. Rib flare can be caused by various factors such as injury, poor posture, overuse, or compensatory muscle imbalances.

Common Symptoms of Rib Flare

Symptoms of rib flare may include discomfort or pain when moving the torso or breathing deeply, limited range of motion, and an asymmetrical appearance of the chest wall. The severity and duration of the symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause and the individual’s overall health. Physical therapy or other forms of conservative treatment may be recommended to alleviate the symptoms of rib flare.

Symptoms of rib subluxation

Symptoms of rib subluxation typically involve two aspects of progression: compression of tissues and effects on joint angle and muscle strength controlled by the joint.

First aspect: Joint symptoms gradually progress from mild to severe, with symptoms accumulating:

Limited angle → Limited angle with tension → Limited angle with tension and soreness → Limited angle with tension, soreness, and dull pain → Limited angle with tension, soreness, dull pain, and occasional sharp pain, with a strong sense of weakness → (defined as partial dislocation or dislocation)

Second aspect: Effects on joint-muscle strength progressively decrease from 5 to 0:

  • 5: Able to resist gravity, complete all joint movements, and resist maximum resistance.
  • 4: Able to resist gravity, complete all joint movements, and resist partial resistance.
  • 3: Able to resist gravity, complete all joint movements.
  • 2: Complete all joint movements in a gravity-free plane.
  • 1: No movement in a gravity-free plane, but muscle contraction can be palpated.
  • 0: No movement and no muscle contraction.

Will rib subluxation naturally heal? When should I see a physical therapist?

If there is no gradual improvement after 1-2 days of rest, or if the recovery reaches a plateau and cannot be further improved.

High-risk factors for rib subluxation

  • Poor posture – prolonged sitting, hunching, habitual side sleeping, inadequate muscle flexibility, overcompensation from excessive exercise, etc.
  • Structural abnormalities – leg length discrepancy, flat feet, pelvic misalignment, scoliosis, fractures, post-surgery, etc.
  • Other factors – poor circulation, irregular exercise, tissue adhesions, scars, etc.

Rib subluxation typically occurs at the junction of the thoracic spine and rib, and as the name suggests, subluxation involves a bone moving out of place, which includes poor posture and structural changes due to impact as high-risk factors.

 What are the diagnostic methods for rib flare?

The diagnosis of rib flare can be made using several methods, with the accuracy of the diagnosis increasing with the number of methods used. The following are the three main diagnostic methods used in clinical settings:

  • X-ray examination combined with assessment of muscle strength, movement function, and symptom description.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, and nerve conduction studies.
  • Physical therapy evaluation, including special tests and assessment of tissue characteristics.

How do “Aquavital Physical therapy Clinic” therapists evaluate and treat?

physical therapy assessment:

  • Body structure: Whether the bones, nerves, muscles, fascia, etc. are in the correct position or have any damage, repair should be prioritized. Adhesions in tissues should be removed, tissue elasticity should be restored, circulation should be good, and joint activity should be correct.
  • Movement quality: Determine the movement situation of the injured area from all angles, muscle usage, and whether the impact of different environments on movement has changed.
  • Physical fitness/abilities: Whether muscle strength is sufficient to support the body’s needs, whether tendons and ligaments are strong enough to support daily physical loads and other needs.

physical therapy treatment:

  • The treatment may involve therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, and other interventions aimed at restoring function, reducing pain, and improving quality of life. The ultimate goal is to help patients achieve their maximum physical potential and return to their daily activities.

What should be noted to avoid recurrence of rib flare?

Take frequent breaks from sitting, maintain good posture, avoid crossing your legs, avoid sleeping on your side, stretch the thigh and buttock muscles, and use desks and chairs that are suitable for your work needs.

Click here to go back to the previous level and find other articles

Click here to fill out the form and schedule a physical therapy consultation or treatment.

Click here to find out where we at