The ribs have three important functions: support, respiration and protection. There are a total of 24 ribs, which are all attached to the thoracic vertebrae. The top seven are referred to as true ribs, while the bottom five are called false ribs.
The ribs protect the heart, liver, kidneys and the lungs from any external injury. Ribs also assist in breathing when the intercostal muscles lift and lower the ribcage, facilitating inhalation and exhalation. The ribcage provides a framework onto which the muscles of the chest, back, upper abdomen and shoulder girdle can attach. The diaphragm is also attached to the lower border of the ribcage.