Thoracic (mid spine) and shoulder pain

Shoulders, Spinal Pain, Thoracic Rings (Ribs)

Rib Rings: Thoracic (mid-spine) and shoulder pain is often due to dysfunction of the ribs or thoracic rings. Pain may be felt between the shoulder blades, radiate down the arm or up into the neck from this region. People may get chest pains that cannot be explained by medical tests. First a bit about the […]

Rib Rings:

Thoracic (mid-spine) and shoulder pain is often due to dysfunction of the ribs or thoracic rings.

Pain may be felt between the shoulder blades, radiate down the arm or up into the neck from this region. People may get chest pains that cannot be explained by medical tests.

First a bit about the anatomy…The ribs are firmly attached to the spine at the back and sternum at the front making them a complete ring. There are 10 complete rings making up the rib cage and two semi rings at the bottom. It is not a solid “cage”, it is flexible, a bit like a slinky. It is an important area for muscle attachments, particularly for the shoulder and neck, but also the pelvis. The Thorax or Rib Cage does more than protect our organs (heart lungs and liver); it links the lower body with the upper body.

It is important when exercising, and even in day-to-day life, to maintain an upright posture. This allows the rib cage more mobility. If you sit round shouldered in front of a computer, or slump in chairs, your thorax gets rounded and mobility is compromised, especially as we get older.

Remember to take some deep breaths throughout the day to open up the rib cage. Physiotherapists here at The Physio Yoga Clinic in Crows Nest can give you specific exercises to mobilise the thorax, stiff joints and muscles to maintain a good posture at all times.

The Effect on The Shoulders:

A stiff rib cage can result in shoulder pain and/or chest pain and back pain (most often between the shoulder blades).

Tight muscles from the ribs can affect the movement of the shoulders and neck. 

Ribs form a complete ring around the body through their attachments to the spine and sternum. If one side is tight, it will affect the other side. For example, if you are tight in the pectoral muscles (this happens using a mouse all day!), the rings may be pulled to one side and this can throw our balance off. I have seen people repeatedly sprain their ankles, or have tendonitis in their lower limbs from this imbalance above.

Our ribs rotate as we raise our arm up. If the ribs cannot rotate the shoulder will be stiff.

Ask A-J Thoracic Ring Physio in Crows Nest) to assess your thorax and ribs, and show you specific stretches to rebalance this area.

MOBILITY + STABILITY = GOOD FUNCTION

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