Chiropractic Management of Rib, Back and Chest Pain in Sacramento CA

Chiropractic Management of Rib, Back and Chest Pain in Sacramento CA

Chiropractic Sacramento CA Chest Pain

Misaligned ribs can be very painful. I see this too frequently. It is usually the cause of what is happening when a patient comes into my Sacramento CA chiropractic clinic, and exclaims, 

“it feels like I’ve been stabbed by a knife right next to my shoulder blade! The pain is unbearable.”  

Other times I hear, “my chest started hurting so badly that I thought I might be having a heart attack!”  

Or I hear this, “I don’t know what is wrong, but I just can’t get a deep breath. Everything feels tight in my back and chest."  

Of course, all three of these complaints can trigger anxiety, so things can go from bad to worse in a hurry. 

The one thing all three of these complaints and others have in common are typically misaligned and tight ribs. In the chiropractic clinic, we call this condition rib subluxation. Rib subluxations can make life quite miserable.  

The good news in Sacramento CA

The good news is that as a chiropractor here in Sacramento, I know how normal spinal alignment should be and how other joints including rib articulations should function, and how to identity those that are not. The best news is that I have the techniques and strategies to adjust things back to normal. Ribs can be tricky, and awkward at times to adjust, but I have learned that the sooner someone comes in for an evaluation, the fewer adjustments it takes to get things feeling better and back to normal.  Sometimes one good, well-delivered adjustment is all it takes to provide tremendous relief.

I find that many of our patients really like learning more about their anatomy and how their bodies are supposed to work. Like most parts of our body, we mostly take them for granted until something goes wrong. All is takes is one rib to go “out” and things can feel very wrong! 

Everyone has 12 pairs of ribs. I have a full human skeleton named “Fred” in my Sacramento chiropractic clinic, as you can see above.   He helps me point out the anatomical structures, and I have found that ribs are often some of the most surprising for people.

Your 12 pairs of ribs start at the base your neck and continue down towards your waist. They form the rib “cage” and together they protect important organs such as your heart and lungs, but also your stomach, liver, spleen and kidneys. They also move quite a bit, and all ribs have a muscle in between them. When you take a deep breath, your ribs elevate and expand, normally several centimeters. This can be measured with a measuring tape around the chest with a deep breath.  When they are tight or misaligned, they don’t move well, and can restrict your normal breathing and be painful.

Causes of Rib Pain

One of the causes of rib subluxation is a big sneeze!  When you cough or sneeze, the large muscle at the base of your lungs called the diaphragm contracts quickly and upwardly, and forces a lot of the air out of the lungs, up the pipes and out of your nose and mouth. If you stifle your sneeze too much with your elbow or hands over your face, the air cannot get out very well. Then, It is like squeezing one side of an inflated balloon, the air just moves to another part, but does not get out. When this happens to your lungs during a big stifled sneeze, they can push hard on your ribs from the inside and cause them to misalign.  

Another cause is from an auto accident. As a driver, for example the seat belt goes across your waist and then up and across the left side of your chest, ribs and collarbone. If there is an abrupt impact, the seat belt can compress the ribs on the left, and /or the ribs on the right get twisted and can be injured and misaligned. As a Sacramento Chiropractor who treats many auto accident injuries, I see this very often.

Sports injuries are another common reason ribs get hurt. A couple summers ago, I saw two teenagers the same week, who twisted up their ribs from waterslide park injuries. Other causes of rib subluxations can from lifting and twisting an object, or the movement associated with starting the lawnmower. Sometime just sitting or sleeping in an awkward position for awhile can make ribs move out of place and cause pain.   Just the stress of sitting at a desk for several hours, slightly twisted, and holding the computer mouse can do it too.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes patients have such intense pain, particularly on the front, left side of the chest that they think they may be having a heart attack. I have seen many patients who have spent hours and thousands of dollars at the ER for this. In medicine they often call this condition, "chest wall syndrome" or "costochondritis." "Costo" means rib, and "chondro" is where the rib attaches with cartilage to the sternum. “Itis” means inflammation. It is what hurts. While it is a very good idea to rule out heart attack, the ER patient with diagnosed chest wall syndrome is usually discharged with instructions to take anti-inflammatory medicine. Thankfully, many get directed to my chiropractic clinic, so that is a great thing.

Lastly, rib pain, especially when the worst part is in the shoulder blade area, like the "knife in the back" pain, can radiate down the arm to the hand. This is from the muscle trigger points that develop and the resulting referred pain can by very hard to live with. This can take a bit longer to get back to normal, but still often responds great to adjustments. 

If you or someone you love has pain in the chest or back that is NOT a heart attack, getting evaluated, and if indicated, adjusted by a skilled and experienced Sacramento chiropractor could be just what the doctor ordered!   If you have a rib subluxation, we can probably help a lot! Give us a call here at Anderson Chiropractic, and let’s see what we can do.


9:00am - 12:00pm
2:30pm - 5:30pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
2:30pm - 5:30pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
2:30pm - 5:30pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
2:30pm - 5:30pm


Saturday & Sunday

Anderson Chiropractic

3517 Marconi Ave #102
Sacramento, CA 95821

P: (916) 485-5433

F: (916) 485-2857