What Is Floating Rib Syndrome?

What is floating rib syndrome?

Floating rib syndrome is a condition characterized by a deep, continuous pain in the bottom of the chest and top of the abdomen. Floating rib syndrome, also known as slipping rib syndrome, is rare.

Floating rib syndrome occurs when one of the ribs slips out of place. This will cause a stretching of the ligaments which support the front and back of the rib.

The exact cause of slipping rib syndrome is unknown. It might occur after a trauma, injury, or surgery.

Floating rib syndrome is believed to be a result of excessive movement of the ribs, particularly the 8th,9th and 10th ribs (sometimes called false ribs). These three ribs aren’t connected to the sternum, but connected to each other by loose, fibrous tissue. Thus, they’re most susceptible to be injured.


The symptoms of floating rib syndrome vary from person to person. Most cases of slipping rib syndrome occur on one side (unilateral) and become worse when bending, lifting, coughing, sneezing, deep breathing, stretching, or turning in bed. In general, the symptoms including:

  • intermittent sharp stabbing pain in the upper abdomen or back, followed by a dull, achy sensation
  • slipping, popping, or clicking sensations in the lower ribs
  • difficulty breathing


In some cases, floating rib syndrome may resolve on its own without treatment. The general treatments including:

  • surgery— costal cartilage excision
  • resting
  • avoiding strenuous activities
  • applying heat or ice to the affected area
  • taking a painkiller
  • doing stretching and rotation exercises

Consult your doctor for your case before your take any treatments.

Keywords: floating rib syndrome; slipping rib syndrome.

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