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Separated Rib (costochondral separation)

Upon further research, comparing my symptoms to various reports on forums I believe I have a separated rib.  A separated rib is tearing away from the cartilage that attaches the rib to the breastbone.

My symptoms pretty much matched up with this description:

Symptoms
-Ribs do not break skin
-Ribs show no sign of bruising
-Usually accompanied by a “pop” sound
-Initial pain level/duration varies based on seriousness/pain tolerance. Max unbearable pain usually 30-60 seconds
-At time of injury, may have noticeable space between ribs – usually slide somewhat back into place after a night of rest on the back


It has been 4 days since the initial injury and I am still in moderate discomfort and the rib is still “slipping” or “popping” out of place at random movements, although I notice that it is usually a twisting motion that triggers it and not a bending motion.  For example I can tie my shoes without any pain but driving still makes me feel like the rib wants to move out of place.

I’m getting a bit annoyed at the injury because I thought I would be further along the road to recovery but it looks like I have to be a more …patient.  Everything I have been researching is pointing at 6 weeks as the magic number for recovery but at week 1 that seems awfully far away.

Many places recommended a Rib Belt to stabilize the rib; they are priced anywhere from $13 – $25 on average.  I thought about it for a brief second before deciding that was a little overkill when I could use my trusty ace bandage wrap instead.

Funny enough the rib is a little more tender today than a few days ago, I’m thinking it’s because the swelling is coming down.  I take it as a good sign because it means the real healing can start now, if I’m careful and don’t have the rib popping out!  It makes me nervous every time the rib moves around because I can only think that every time it moves from where it is supposed to be it’s making the area where it rests a little bigger and giving the rib more room to escape.

Gotta be patient, gotta be careful.

Click here to see a timeline of my posts for when I was dealing with a separated rib, or costochondral separation

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg February 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm

How long till the popping stops. Mine pops out and right back in. several times a day. Im only at day 5.

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Brian November 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I’ve done this several times, luckily not for a few years. After the initial jolt of pain and that popping feeling, things settle down until the next morning when I try to get out of bed. I think the doctor and emerg. thought I was making it up so I don’t bother them now when this happens.
Anyhow, pain subsides in about 4 to 5 weeks.

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Laurie October 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm

9 years ago I slipped om my back deck stairs, fell on my left rib cage, cracked 2 ribs, took almost a year to heal….2 years ago I was experiencing bulging, severe pain and discomfort in the same area of my rib cage….I need to do a great deal of lifting, stretching, and bending in my line of work as a dog groomer…My Dr. told me that I needed to get a desk job…..He had xrays and other tests done with no conclusive answer.
I finally got a diagnosis from my chiroprator,,,he is a sports injury specialist.
He told and showed me it was costrochondryl separation of the breast bones and cartilage on 2 of the ribs…and nothing can be done..
I am not going to take that for granted….Anyone have an answer?
It is uncomfortable and debilitating.!

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andrea August 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Last sept. i fell and broke two of my ribs on the left side and because of the hard hit,my muscle tore in between.It is now aug. and i still feel the same pain.I tried a bandage but that made it worse to breathe.I was told it would heal in a couple of weeks,but it has been 12 months and no change! I understand fully what you mean.

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Andrew June 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Hi everyone.. I have had the same thing but mine has been ongoing for I want to say 4 years. I was in a car wreck and the ribs healed in the wrong place I’m guessing I didn’t notice because I was only 17 at the time and didn’t care. Then when I was about 20 I went to the chiropractor because I was having such a hard time breathing and had bad back pains. He actually said that it wasn’t right and popped it out of the scar tissue and into place. WORST pain I’ve ever felt. Ever since then it seemed to heal correctly and everything was fine.. Until about a year later I picked up an ice chest right my right arm and I went down like a hot rock. Ever since then I’ve had problems they get better then worse just like everyone is saying. I start taking Ibuprofen 800mg and it seemed to help with the inflammation and healing process but the rib won’t stay in place! I read everyone’s posts and see that people have been wrapping their chest? Or is there a full chest wrap I can buy? I’m going to research it now but was just wondering what I can do to keep the rib in the correct place instead of popping out and having to start all over again.

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