© 2023

A brief review of Primary and Secondary rib dysfunction

Primary rib dysfunctions generally occur due to internal forces acting directly on the rib.  For example, the pull of respiratory muscles, scapular stabilizing muscles, etc.

In a physical examination, other structures appear undisturbed.

Respiratory dysfunction (inhaled rib or exhaled rib) is an example of a primary rib dysfunction.

See illustrations below.

Secondary rib dysfunctions, on the other hand, arise from external forces applied to the ribs.  For example, direct trauma, such as can occur in a vehicle accident, or as a result of thoracic vertebral dysfunction.

Usually, other related structures will be disturbed.

See illustrations below.

One type of rib dysfunction that crosses both definitions, I call “camper’s rib”  The rib in question will be dysfunctional but surrounding structures will appear undisturbed.  My proposed mechanism is external compression of the rib (such as may occur from sleeping on hard ground while camping – thus an external force).

See illustration below.