What is this pain in my back/ribs that really hurts when I cough or sneeze?

by Kalidasa on July 4, 2008

Have you ever had a pain in your back or ribs that really hurts when you coughed or sneezed? Sometimes it can even hurt to take a deep breath. The pain can be in the back, the side or in the front. You know something’s wrong, out of place, strained or something, but you’re not sure what it is. But, it’s really uncomfortable and you would like to be rid of it.

Misaligned Ribs Cause the Pain
Most pains like this are caused by one or more misaligned ribs. It often surprises people to find out that it is a misaligned rib that is causing their pain. They often don’t even realize that a rib can be misaligned. It becomes very obvious to them once the rib is realigned and they can take a deep pain-free breath again.

Other Possible Causes
There are other things that can cause a pain like this though they are less common. There could be a muscle strain, or a vertebra could be out of alignment. It could be a bruise or any number of possibilities. However, in most cases it is a misaligned rib that causes the pain.

Ribs Form Joints with the Spine and Sternum
The ribs connect with the spine forming a movable joint in the back. In the front, all but two ribs connect together either at the sternum or along the bony ridge at the bottom of the rib cage. All of these connections are joints that move with each other.

When a rib goes out of alignment in the back, it shifts away from the place where it moves with the spine. A similar misalignment can happen in the front wherever a rib connects with a joint.

In fact, this is a very common occurrence. For the most part it isn’t even noticed. These are very minor misalignments that the body can realign itself.

Misalignments Happen All the Time, the Body Adjusts
As you move around in your daily activities, you may twist or turn in such a way that a rib is pushed or knocked out of alignment. It happens all the time. As you continue to move around, and the muscles in the area pull against the misaligned rib, it will usually slip back into place without you ever knowing anything was amiss.

However, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the rib is too far out of alignment, or there is something else blocking it from coming back into alignment, or there is a problem with it holding an alignment once it is adjusted. Eventually, the muscles that are trying to realign the rib will start to hurt.

Knots Form from Long-Term Misalignments
The pain in the muscle comes from it being bunched up for a long period of time trying to pull the ribs back into alignment. These are often experienced as knots in the back. A massage therapist can spend lots of time on these knots and only leave you sore.

In fact these knots are just muscles that have gone into reaction from the misalignment that has happened adjacent to them. These reactions can become self-perpetuating as one muscle moves or reacts to what another muscle is doing which causes another reaction and so on until there is a painful area.

A simple realignment is all that is usually needed. However, if there was an instigating issue such as a strong emotional event, that issue may need to be cleared before the adjustment will hold. That is for another article though.

For the most part, a rib that has been knocked out of alignment from some physical event can be adjusted successfully, meaning that it will hold the alignment. This can be done by a chiropractor or using Self Adjusting Technique.

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