Intercostal Neuralgia

Rib pain is sharp and stabbing like a knife going between the ribs.

Have you ever had that sharp rib pain that goes around your side, under your arm, and ends up feeling like someone sticking a knife in your chest or back? That perfectly describes intercostal neuralgia. What happens is a rib pops posterior from its attachments to the vertebra. The capsules that hold it in place become inflamed.

This inflammation causes the nerve that goes between the ribs to become inflamed and the pain follows that nerve all the way around the rib cage. This pain is usually sharp, it usually makes it difficult to breathe, and it usually doesn’t take long for people to want to seek relief from it.

The adjustment for intercostal neuralgia involves putting the rib back in its proper place. I like to use an osseous adjustment (getting it to “pop”). The relief is fairly quick, sometimes instant relief, but sometimes it takes a day or two. It may take a couple adjustments to get the particularly bad case to go back into their place. Ice as a pre-adjustment therapy and after the adjustment can do wonders for taking down the inflammation. See icing instructions here.

The final piece of the equation is to figure out why it went out in the first place. There can be structural changes that lead to the rib having a tendency to change positions. If that’s the case, correction of those underlying structural conditions will help the rib to behave over the long term. Sometimes, trauma is the cause and then it’s a matter of training how to avoid the condition. In any case, getting the rib back into place is such a relief that it’s well worth getting it adjusted.

Return to conditions

Return to home page