Rib injury, popped rib? intercostal strain? Ahhh the mystery…

Well it was inevitable…I am back on the injured reserve list.

I was rolling with a particularly strong partner in jiu jitsu last night, he was attempting to grab my arm for an arm bar which I was fighting with my body with good positioning so I didn’t feel like I was in any real danger.  He was on his stomach trying to roll me over and I was half sitting up and feeling safe because I had a lot of leverage.  All of a sudden he stretched out against my ribs in an attempt to pull my arm free and I felt my ribs slide and pop.  It actually felt like one of my ribs were getting twisted around but I’m pretty sure that’s not possible.  I yelled out in pain and when my partner let go my it felt like my ribs flipped around a few more time before settling.  Needless to say that was the end of open mat for this guy.

On the drive home my ribs “popped” a few more times which took my breath away.  Of course I iced and took some ibuprofen and did a little “googling” before going to bed.

It looks to be a fairly common injury in BJJ, one that seems to take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks of rest before getting back to 100%.  I tried to test my limits this morning at the gym and found its really difficult to do anything with a rib injury.  I probably will not be going to the gym for the rest of the week.  I do not plan on going to the doctor because everything I’ve read says that a doctor cannot and will not do much for a rib injury unless it is really serious, plus my general practitioner gives me a really blank look when I explain my injuries  (I really have to find a sports medicine doctor!).

The rib has popped at least four times this morning, twice when I was trying to get into my car and twice at the gym when I was trying to get up from laying down on the ground.  I am continuing to ice and trying to move around as little as possible at this point in my rehab.  My plan is to completely rest for at least 2 to 3 days before going back to the gym and stretching and maybe doing a little light cardio to loosen up and test my range of motion.

I definitely don’t want to re-injure and have a long term injury with rib protrusions I have been reading on some forums!

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Ricky April 15, 2014 at 4:36 am

I got rib injury too, same as the author got injured. I did not train for 15 days, so now i can endure the pain when getting up from bed and laughing. Is it okay to start training in kickboxing or weight lifting, until my rib heals 100% then i can start training in Jiujitsu again?


admin April 15, 2014 at 5:55 am

Hey Ricky,

Of course I don’t know the extent of your injury but kickboxing or even weightlifting doesn’t seem like a good idea. I was not a 100% till after 6 weeks and I would hate for you to get re-injured, but if you are listening to your body and it says it is ok I would do very very light workouts.

Good luck in your recovery!


Mike March 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Separated a rib on my right side last September when a wrench slipped and I fell against the lugs of a tractor tire. Three days ago, I separated the ribs on my left side while leaning over a wooden fence attempting to pump diesel into a container. When it popped, I rolled to my right and the right side popped as well. I have noticed that the right side has noticeably less pain and am wondering if there is nerve damage when one experiences costochondral separation and if reoccurrence is more likely to occur as is the case with ankle sprains.


admin April 11, 2014 at 6:18 am

You separated both sides?!?!

That sounds incredibly painful and very restricting. I have not had any issues with nerves, just a small bulge on the side I separated.Good luck in your recovery!


Dave December 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Great to see these comments, popped my bottom rib out of the cartilage – kitesurfing belt rode up and I got slammed in a wind gust. Blunt force trauma. Day 9 for me – rib stopped popping in and out on day 5. Trying hard to keep the body straight & not rotate so I dont get another pop.
Used ice to start then hot and cold packs alternate to o get the tissue back and blood flowing in the area to support the rib against the cartilage while it gels back together.
Anybody think recovery time will improve from continuing the odd ice packs from day 9?
and missed out on JJitsu and Karate grading because of it …….
Want to be back on the kite on day 28……


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: