Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just ribbing

I like anatomy.  It always seemed fascinating to me that we are made of these bits - muscles and nerves and guts and bones and blood and gloop and fingernails and such... and that one could learn all of them!  Unlike other scientific fields, anatomy is relatively finite.  How does a physicist ever feel she's done?  You can read and write and postulate and read some more and maybe one day you think i get it! only to have someone discover a new qubit of information and suddenly you are re-contemplating the universe and reconsidering gravity and you want to throw yourself into a black hole if you could just figure out what the hell one was anyway.

No thanks, I'll stick with phalanges: 10.  I like finite.

The point is, I like anatomy.  And no offense, but I can tell that many of you haven't really considered all your parts, and I don't understand this.  I mean, you can ignore physics and pretend tau neutrinos don't exist, and life will go on.  But you can't ignore your knees, people.  They are RIGHT THERE!  And while most of you don't know your gluteals from your olecranon, none of you understand ribs.

Unlike the elusive Mc.Rib, your ribs have bones.  12 pairs of ribs create a cage that protects some of the more vital organs - heart and lungs.  Though I do consider my hands quite vital, I'll chalk that up to yet another instance of design oversight.  The ribs are an example of stability and mobility in perfect harmony; stability protects the inside parts, mobility aids in and allows for breathing and motion through the trunk. Mess with the ribs and compromise these functions.  What I see clinically is a rib that has gone 'out', or stops moving properly.  If you've ever had a rib 'out', you know how painful this is.  Breathing is tender, coughing is agonizing, laughing is absurd.

All of a sudden ribs are important, eh?

Patients find it fascinating to learn that their pain is being caused by a rib. They had never considered their ribs, let alone as a source of pain. But I have. I'm a chiropractor!

I enjoy treating ribs. The results can be so dramatic! A simple adjustment can restore movement and ease pain, often instantly. The patient is happy because they feel better, and I'm happy because my patient is happy. It doesn't hurt the chiro-ego to feel like a hero either.  Of course it's not always "alleluia thy be healed!" - sometimes a few treatments are necessary, and occasionally I am challenged by a very stubborn rib. And like the Mc.Rib, some wayward ribs return again and again...

So let's talk about how to deal with ribs.

Breathing exercises can be very helpful, as can gently rolling against a wall or on the floor.  The point is to mobilize the 'stuck' rib.  Ice is often helpful too.  Massage can help sometimes, but I find the rib rub to be a temporary fix, especially if that rib is still 'out' of alignment.  See your chiropractor.  A rib adjustment is most often the easiest, fastest and most effective treatment for acute rib pain.

And if you've been directed to this blog by searching Mc.Rib, my advice for you is an antacid and a salad.