A Knotty Problem

By Kevin Roberts, Osteopath

Do you ever get a small knot around or under your shoulder blade? Does this knot cause an aching, burning, or tingling feeling? Does it ever become sharp when you cough, sneeze or laugh? If so, you may have a rib ‘out’ and yes, it’s no laughing matter.

The ribs basically cover the chest area, and they attach to the sternum, or breast bone, in the front of your body. They then curve round the sides and attach to the vertebrae via two joints at the back. These joints are articular, that means they allow movement. For the record, they are the costovertebral joint and the costotransverse joints.

The ribs serve two functions:
1. Protection of the heart and lungs and,
2. They allow expansion of the lungs during inspiration.

These joints are similar to many other joints in the body i.e. the fingers, knees etc. Like any joint they can become stiff and inflexible. It is this inflexibility that is thought to cause the ribs to ‘pop out’ of their sockets (or facets). This is called a subluxation as the ribs don’t spring completely out of their sockets, probably only moving millimeters. This misalignment can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, misdiagnosis, and confusion.

Although the exact reason for this ever-increasing problem is uncertain, the most likely causes are an increase in computer usage and a less active lifestyle. These contribute to the inflexibility of the spine and the rib (costal) joints. This lack of movement puts pressure on other areas and ‘ping’, the ribs will pop out. Sounds dramatic but it only requires a small misalignment to cause a lot of pain.

Effective treatment is literally at hand and involves some dry needling, articulation and some gentle manipulation. This relatively simple manipulation realigns the ribs and puts them back into their sockets. If the problem is caught early enough, it can often bring immediate relief. If the knots have developed over a period of time, it may take a little longer to ‘undo’ the knots.

If this ‘Knotty Problem’ resonates with your symptoms, you should phone

for an appointment with our talented Osteopath Kevin Roberts to help resolve this issue.

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