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Rib Pain and Thoracic Pain

Information from the Buxton Osteopathy Clinic

Rib Pain and Thoracic Pain



Typical Symptoms; Pain between the shoulder blades that is a burning or sharp or stabbing spreading to the front of your chest. Taking a deep breath or coughing/sneezing can make your rib pain worse.

The most common cause of mid-back pain  comes from muscular tension as the body struggles to adapt to its new centre of gravity as your baby developes. This is especially true in the last trimester as the baby’s body weight will double. This causes  subsequent rapid expansion in pelvic pressure and equally sudden postural compensations. The domino affect will have consquences for the excursion of your diaphragm that lies immediately above your pelvic anatomy and subsequently affects and restricts the movement of your ribs as you breath. The ribs of course connect to your mid-back (or thoracic spine) and some of this mechanical compensation can be passed to this area. These mechanical compensations that occur as your centre of gravity changes, driven by increased pelvic pressure, can result in discomfort and muscle pains in these areas.

Your rib cage is made up of twelve pairs of ribs. All ribs attach to the spine in the mid-back area. Seven of these extend to form the ribcage and attach to the breastbone at the front or your chest. For each rib there are two joints that attach to specific vertebra called either the costotransverse or costovertebral joint. These can be a common cause of pain. Rib joint pain may start suddenly, or develop slowly. Some people wake up in the morning and feel pain just by stretching or twisting “the wrong way”.

It is also important to remember that when your baby is born that there is a new demand. Handling your new baby to provide either comforting or feeding involves a lot of picking up. As such the muscles that help stabilize the shoulder suddenly have much more emphasis imposed upon them. Many of the muscles associated with the lifting  movements (such as Rhomboids, Trapezius, Latissmus dorsi and rotator cuff) can generate discomfort.


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