Can You Dislocate a Rib?

A dislocated rib is a type of injury in which one or more of your ribs are not in their proper place.

Dislocated Rib

Different accidents can happen every day. However, there are misfortunate events that can cause leg injury, back injury, or worse a dislocated rib. You might think that it is impossible to dislocate your rib. But in cases wherein the accident is connected with a strong force such as a car accident, a dislocated rib can be your worst nightmare.

A dislocated rib is a type of injury in which one or more of your ribs are not in their proper place, thus the name of this condition. Your ribs have 24 bones located in your rib cage which function as a protection for your organs, particularly the lungs.

Now, what happens when your rib is dislocated? Find out below.

Symptoms of a Dislocated Rib

The first symptom that would appear is back or chest pain. The pain will be strongly felt in the area of the dislocated rib. You will feel this when you breathe as the rib cage expands and then collapse. More pain is expected to be felt when you cough or sneeze. Other than that, here are the symptoms of a dislocated rib:

  • Swelling or bruising
  • Having difficulty in breathing
  • Pop sounds can be heard during the accident

If you fail to hear the pop sound but experience bruising and difficulty in breathing, you can still go to your doctor for a diagnostic. It is still better to know the possible cause of what you are feeling to get immediate treatment.

Causes of a Dislocated Rib

You might be thinking that the only cause of getting a dislocated rib is through a huge accident. But that is not all. You can still get this condition from any of the following causes:

Working Out

Surprisingly, working out without proper guidance can lead to a dislocated rib. This happens when you go to the gym, and try out heavy materials or do a complicated routine that would involve your back and chest.

Another is when you do a workout routine that keeps your arms straight in front of you. Studies show that this position has a higher tendency of moving your ribs away from their normal positions. In this case, it is best to be sure that you ask help from an expert before trying out any kind of exercise. This can help you keep your ribs in place and also help you get your desired body structure.

Poor Posture

Keeping the right posture when you walk and sit can be hard, especially when you are used to slouching your whole life. But once you keep this kind of posture, you have a higher chance of getting a dislocated rib. This is because a bad posture will give pressure to your ribs and cause it to be dislocated. So as early as today, practice yourself to have the right posture.


Being pregnant is complicated. Not only will you carry a human being for 9 whole months, but you also have a chance to get a dislocated rib. The main reason for this is because when the baby is too big, you will have a hard time carrying him or her. In this case, you tend to have a bad posture that will make you pull down your rib cage.

Extreme Sneezing and Coughing

When you are sick, you tend to have weakened muscles. Even worse, coughing and sneezing can add strain to your rib cage causing it to be dislocated. This is why if you already have a cough, immediately get treatment. Do not wait for the time that your sickness is already severe that it can give you other complications including a dislocated rib.

Once you think that you do have a dislocated rib because of the abovementioned causes, you can go to your doctor. He or she will check if you do have the condition by touching the painful area. The doctor will then check your lungs and its state to see how your rib cage works.

If the doctor believes that you have a dislocated rib, he will ask you to undergo an x-ray. This will give images of your rib cage to further confirm if your ribs are not aligned. He or she might also ask you to have a CT scan, MRI, and a bone scan to make sure that the diagnostic is right.

Treatment for a Dislocated Rib

In case the condition is not treated immediately, you can suffer a chest cavity. This can be harmful to your other organs. Lucky for you, there are ways to treat a dislocated rib. Here are some of them:

  • Place ice in the area that gives you the most pain.
  • Take a rest for a long time. If you are an athlete, then the more reason for you to take a break. Do not force yourself to play if you know that you have an injury.
  • Do not wear anything tight that might hurt your ribs. This can even limit your breathing.
  • You can take deep breaths to avoid getting pneumonia. This is because when you have a dislocated rib, your chances of getting a lung infection is high. So be sure that you can breathe properly. In case that it is very difficult to breathe, you may ask your doctor for a device that can help you.
  • You can take pain relievers to ease the pain.

In worse cases, you can end up having surgery. This will only happen if the doctor needs to remove excess blood or air in your rib cage. Take note that this is given to those who have a serious injury.

These are just some of the treatments that you can do. It is still best to go to your doctor to get proper treatment. Also, seeking help from your doctor can guarantee you that you are using the right treatment for your injury.

Overall, it is possible to dislocate a rib. This is why to avoid getting this condition, be sure to have a proper posture at all times. You can also prevent this by treating your other ailments, like a cough, immediately.

Dislocated Rib

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