What Is Floating Rib Syndrome?

According to Minerva Medica, 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 is also known as slipping rib syndrome.

According to Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services, floating rib syndrome occurs when one of the ribs slips out of place, causing a stretching of the ligaments that support the front and back of the rib. Although any rib can be affected, the 10th rib is usually affected by floating rib syndrome; it is attached by loose, fibrous tissue, which is susceptible to stretching.

Floating rib syndrome can be caused by bronchitis, emphysema, allergies and asthma, as Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services reports. It can result from surgery to the lungs, chest, heart or breast with resection of the lymph nodes. The syndrome can also be triggered by a simple coughing attack or nose blowing associated with sinusitis.

Sufferers of floating rib syndrome report having chronic chest pain, which is exacerbated when the rib is displaced upwards. According to Practical Pain Management, the pain may also radiate to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen, mimicking appendicitis or renal lithiasis. To ensure a correct diagnosis and treatment of floating rib syndrome, patients must undergo a physical examination.