Children's Hospital Colorado
Pediatric Surgery

Slipping Rib Syndrome in Children

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What is slipping rib syndrome?

Slipping rib syndrome happens when the lower ribs are able to move more than usual, causing pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen. Slipping rib syndrome may also be known by several other names, such as:

  • Chest pain-slipping rib
  • Clicking rib syndrome
  • Cyriax syndrome
  • Displaced ribs
  • Floating rib syndrome
  • Gliding ribs
  • Interchondral subluxation
  • Painful rib syndrome
  • Rib-tip syndrome
  • Rib subluxation
  • Slipping-rib-cartilage syndrome
  • Traumatic intercostal neuritis
  • Twelfth rib syndrome

What causes slipping rib syndrome?

This syndrome usually occurs between the 8th, 9th and 10th ribs (also known as false ribs), at the lower part of the rib cage. These ribs are not connected to the sternum (chest bone) like the other ribs are. Instead, fibrous tissue called ligaments connect these ribs to each other to help keep them stable. Weakness in the ligaments can allow the ribs to move more than usual, causing pain.

Slipping rib syndrome can occur after an injury to the chest. Many of these injuries are related to contact sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling or rugby. Rapid twisting, pushing or lifting motions can also cause an injury that leads to slipping rib syndrome.

Who gets slipping rib syndrome?

Slipping rib syndrome is more common in adults. Females are more affected than males. When it occurs in children, it is usually associated with a traumatic chest injury.

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