Have You Ever Felt Pop in Rib Cage? 6 Ways to Treat a Popped Rib at Home!

Sometimes you might feel that your ribs have moved out from their position. You might feel mild to moderate pain with severe discomfort lasting a bit longer. This condition is where a popped rib comes to define itself.

So, have you ever felt pop in rib cage?

Generally, a popped rib is a musculoskeletal defect where your false rib slips out from its actual position due to hypermobility in its cartilage which connects it to the rib cage. It is also known as Cyriax syndrome or slipping rib syndrome.

If you want to know what does it mean when you feel a pop in your ribs along with its causes, symptoms, and treatments, then stay with us till the end!

What Is a Popped Rib?

Feeling a pop in your ribs means that one or more of your false ribs have moved out of their place. 

It is a costochondral subluxation, a tear either between the costochondral cartilage and sternum or between the rib and the costochondral cartilage, which produces a popping sound, that you shouldn’t ignore.

felt-pop-in-rib-cage

When one of your ” false ribs” snaps, it can be painful, leading to excruciating pain in the upper abdomen or lower chest. It might go underdiagnosed, leading to severe complications such as pleural thickening, emphysema, and respiratory failure if left untreated for too long!

Symptoms of a Popped Rib

Have you ever felt like rib popped? But you aren’t too sure about that since you don’t know how it feels. Don’t worry, as we are here to clear your confusion!

Following are some signs and symptoms that might help you to know if you’ve popped your rib or not.

  • You might hear a cracking or popping sound whenever you pop up your rib.
  • Sharp and excruciating pain in the upper abdomen or lower chest could radiate to the back.
  • The pain continues as a dull ache later on.
  • The pain and symptoms might worsen with activities like weight lifting, coughing, twisting on the bed, etc.
  • You might feel pain whenever you’ll touch the affected rib area.
  • Trouble breathing usually accompanies a popped rib.
  • You might suffer from recurrent coughing attacks.

Usually, the popping of a rib occurs unilaterally, but a few cases have reported bilateral popping of the ribs. What does it mean when you experience a popping feeling under any rib cage? Let’s explore!

Popping Feeling Under Right Rib Cage:

A popped rib might cause pain on either of the sides. If you feel a popped rib on the right side, it might indicate a health problem affecting any of the following organs that are present in the right upper quadrant of the rib cage:

  • Pancreas
  • Right lung
  • Right kidney
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Large intestine
  • Small intestine
popping-feeling-in-rib

Popping Feeling Under Left Rib Cage:

A popping feeling under the left rib cage might indicate any issue related to any of the following organs:

  • Stomach
  • Left lung
  • Heart
  • Pancreas
  • Left kidney
  • Spleen

However, a popping feeling under any side of the rib cage can indicate that you have broken or popped ribs. 

However, you should be able to diagnose it as soon as possible.

Causes of a Popped Rib: Why Do I Feel a Pop in My Rib Cage?

The cause of a popping rib is unknown till now. However, trauma or injury can be a probable cause, leading to hypermobility of ribs cartilage (specifically false ribs), thus enabling them to dislocate from their actual position.

The ribs 8th, 9th, and 10th are the false ribs. It is because they aren’t connected directly to the sternum. Instead, loose fibrous connective tissues connect these ribs. Due to this weak connection, they are more prone to traumas or injuries.

This slipping out of ribs can compress specific intercostal nerves and vessels, leading to muscular strain and sharp radiating pain in the lower chest or the upper abdominal area.

Felt Pop in Rib Cage While Coughing:

You might have heard that violent coughing can cause internal bodily injuries, so have you ever felt something pop in your rib cage while coughing?

Sometimes you might hear a popping or cracking sound while coughing or sneezing, which could lead to muscle pulling in that region. You might feel like your intercostal muscles have strained with a sensation of sharp and stabbing pain.

rib-cage

So, if you have ever felt pop in side of rib cage while coughing, it is because your false ribs have dislocated due to the intense coughing pressure, causing intercostal muscles to strain, which could be excruciating at times.

Felt Pop in Rib Cage While Weight Lifting:

Weight lifters might experience chest muscle strains while lifting, taking you to the query, “why do I feel a pop in my rib cage during weight lifting?”

Know that working out or weight lifting can cause the ribs to scurry, which can also dislocate them from their positions. 

Therefore, a weight lifter might have felt pop in the rib cage several times, as immense weight can lead to ribs popping accompanied by exacerbating pain.

Felt Pop in Rib Cage: No Pain:

Most of the time, it is possible to have no pain while suffering from a popped rib.

However, a popped rib is completely harmless except for its excruciating pain that sometimes occurs and should be treated with no delays since it is unbearable!

How to Treat a Popped Rib?

A popped rib occurs more often than your expectation and goes underdiagnosed most of the time since its symptoms resemble many other underlying medical conditions.

Still, one should not ignore it as the ribs and the rib cage protects many vital organs, and damage to them might cause severe complications in later life. Therefore, you should treat a popped rib promptly!

For this reason, you should know how to pop a rib back in place by yourself.

Treating a Popped Rib by Yourself at Home:

Some home remedies to treat a popped rib are as follows;

  • Try avoiding strenuous activities like hard workouts, weight lifting, etc.
  • Have proper rest.
  • Icing can help to ease the discomfort.
  • Try doing heat therapy to the affected area.
  • You can take OTC medicines or any anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug like ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, etc.
  • Do rotation or stretching exercises.

When to See a Doctor?

If your conditions don’t improve by trying to treat your popped rib at home, then consult your doctor immediately. He might go for any of the following options;

  • Physical therapy might be effective.
  • Your doctor might administer an anesthetic intercostal nerve blockage injection to relieve the pain.
  • Corticosteroid injections are found effective in treating swelling.
  • Your doctor will recommend surgery (costal cartilage excision) if the pain and symptoms persist longer.
  • Osteopathic manipulative treatment will be another good option.

How Long Does a Popped Rib Take to Heal?

A popped or a broken rib usually gets better with time by itself. It typically takes around 3 to 6 weeks to be fully recovered. Still, if you don’t feel relief, consult your doctor!

Final Verdict

You have just felt pop in rib cage, and now you know how to treat it; it was our main aim a few minutes before, and now you’re there!

A popped rib happens when the cartilage of one or more false ribs becomes disconnected from its normal position and moves out of place due to excessive hypermobility of its anterior ends. Somehow, its actual cause is still unknown!

You might experience sharp and radiating pain once you become a victim of it, with difficult breathing and deformed ribs appearance. However, you can quickly eliminate the pain through specific home remedies within 3-6 weeks.

However, if the situation worsens, don’t handle the case yourself and consult your doctor as soon as possible. If necessary, he would recommend surgery to be done immediately!

FAQs

Let’s figure out the frequently asked questions on pop feeling in ribs and how to overcome it.

Does a Popped Rib Fix Itself?

Yes! A popped rib usually gets fixed on its own within 3-6 weeks by trying some home remedies.

However, if it doesn’t get better with time, consult your doctor without further delays, as it might be a sign of any other underlying health issue!

How Do You Tell if You Popped a Rib Out of Place?

To tell whether your rib has moved out of place, your doctor will perform a diagnostic test called a “hooking maneuver” on the affected rib. Through this test, your doctor will check for the popping sound and the pain, confirming the misalignment of the popped rib.

What Are the Symptoms of Torn Rib Cartilage?

You might experience the following three symptoms of a torn rib cartilage;

  1. Excruciating pain at the injured site gets intense with movements, deep breathing, coughing, etc.
  2. There is a deformed appearance of the chest that accompanies muscle spasms.
  3. Popping sounds when the injured site gets in contact or moved, with trouble breathing.

Is It Normal to Feel Your Ribs Pop?

It is entirely normal to have popped ribs. Further, if it’s without pain, don’t worry, as it will heal with time.

If you suffer trouble breathing with severe pain when your rib pops, consult your doctor immediately!

Minahil Laraib Asif

Minahil Laraib Asif

Hi, This is Minahil Laraib Asif, an MBBS student from Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) in Pakistan. Studying medicine is my passion, and the desire to live my life in service to humanity has led me to pursue my career in medicine. As a medical student, it's essential to know how to balance projects and work while maintaining a healthy social life. Investigating and exploring newer disclosures has always been a source of gratification for me. For this reason, I have developed my career in writing articles as well, since it brings me great delight while researching various projects, and presenting such information to people, that they may otherwise never come across.

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