How Does a Physical Therapist Fix a Stuck Rib?

Stuck Rib

Rib dysfunction is often the cause of upper back and chest pain in many patients. This is usually a surprise to most because we think of the ribs as a non-moving bone cavity. But each time we take a breath, the ribs expand and contract. A dysfunctional rib cannot move with the rest of the ribcage and is therefore referred to as stuck.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Causes and Symptoms

Stuck rib can be the result of poor posture, back misalignment muscle trauma or even lifting improperly. The dysfunction can result in difficulty breathing, restricted movement, muscle spasms and pain in other areas of the body.


To correct this ailment, a physical therapist will adjust and align the joints in your ribs, to be followed by a physical therapy regimen. Physical therapy will strengthen the joints and muscles, which may have caused the injury. Massages and hot packs and cold compresses are also treatments for stuck rib.

Physical Therapy

There are several forms of physical therapy you may receive for a stuck rib injury. Deep breathing and core stability exercises can be administered by your therapist. These stretch the tissue to release the pressure. Thoracic nonthrust manipulation is a direct massage technique to the rib area. A new form of therapy is myofascial release. The fascia is connective soft tissue that bonds muscles and bones. This therapy will relieve pain and allows the tissue fibers to reorganize, making them more flexible and functional.