The thoracic vertebrae are the bones in our back that partly make up what is known as our spinal column. Attached to this are the ribs, which are also connected to the sternum located at the front of our chest. Cartilage is responsible for keeping the ribs attached to the sternum and vertebrae. There is only one exception to this and that is the lower two pairs of ribs, also known as the floating ribs. These are connected to the spinal column alone. Dislocation of a rib can occur to any rib, or several ribs. But it is these two lower pairs that are most susceptible to this kind of injury.
A rib is held firmly to the sternum and one vertebrae by a pair of sockets that it slides into. The costochondral joints are the cartilage and vertebrae that allows the ribs to attach to the sternum. Costovertebral joints are the joints which allow the ribs to attach to the vertebrae. Those two floating ribs only connect to the vertebrae, through the help of four costovertebral joints.
A fractured rib is a very common rib injury to get. This doesn’t imply that a dislocated rib is rare in any way. However, more individuals are known to suffer from bruised ribs rather than the dislocation of a rib. A dislocated rib will be very painful. The pain can make it very difficult to move without setting off more pain. No matter how slightly the chest is involved in any movement, pain can occur pretty much from the majority of the movements we make. It can also be difficult to breath in this condition. Aside from the pain, a dislocated rib can become a hazard to one’s health regardless of where it is located. Accompanying damage can be caused by a dislocated rib, or one that has had a complete fracture.
Dislocation And Subluxation
In some cases a dislocated rib can be popped back into place, much like a dislocated shoulder can be. There are some instances where a rib can be partially dislocated. What this means is that the bones may still be attached, but they are sitting in an unnatural position. When a rib is abnormally seated into one of its sockets, it is known as subluxation. While this can be quite a painful injury, a subluxation is not considered to be a serious or major form of dislocation. However, this is an injury that does need immediate treatment. Whether it has been fully or partially dislocated, it should always be looked at as serious.
Treating A Dislocation
Quite often the rib that has been dislocated, either partially or fully, can be manipulated back into its proper place and position. The process of doing so is extremely painful however and requires the individual to be under an anesthetic. When you think about it, the amount of pain a person feels just by breathing or making slight movements can be excruciating. To have a person bearing weight on that same rib in order to move it back into place would be quite unbearable. An elastic bandage is usually wrapped around the individuals chest, once the rib has been put back into place. The bandage is meant to support the joint while it goes through the healing process. It’s very rare for a person to need surgery to fix a rib dislocation. Pain medication is usually prescribed for the individual who is suffering from this injury, which they will need in the majority of cases. This is due to the area of the dislocation being tender for a time after the actual injury. It can be tender well after the rib has been placed back in its socket. A variety of things will dictate the healing time of this injury. Mainly the overall fitness and health of the individual plays a role. But it also depend on whether there was any joint damage and to what degree.