How to Diagnose Slipping Rib Syndrome

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Anatomy of female ribs
Anatomy of female ribs (Image: Biology Department, College of St. Benedict's)

Slipping Rib Syndrome is a painful condition, mimicking a heart attack. Learn about the steps in diagnosing this condition and warnings to look for that can differentiate between a heart attack and slipping rib syndrome.

Things You'll Need

  • Medical sonography machine
  • Therapy bands
  • Anti-inflammatory

Seek a qualified physician, chiropractor or orthopedist.

Tell them your symptoms, being as precise as you can be to get an accurate diagnosis.

Ask for an ultrasound of the ribs or have the doctor palpitate the region, mostly the costal region and upper abdomen, checking for any abnormality or slippage. If the area is tender or muscle spasms can be detected, slipping rib syndrome would most-likely be the diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, ask about exercises to help strengthen the costal area, where the ribs are located.

Take anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce swelling and inflammation of the intercostal region and limit strenuous activity involving the affected ribs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get educated. Ask the doctor everything about slipping rib syndrome and things you need to watch out for or limit.
  • Once that is explained, strengthen the costal region with simple exercises suggested by your doctor.
  • Slipping rib syndrome usually affects the 8th, 9th and 10th ribs.
  • Costochondritits, a similar condition, usually affects the muscles lining the 11th and 12th ribs--if over-activated during exercise, tenderness and muscle spasms may result.
  • If slipping rib syndrome is severe, nerve blocks or surgery may be required.

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