Diagnosis and Treatment of Slipping Rib Syndrome

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Abstract

Objective:

(1) To investigate the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of slipping rib syndrome in athletes; (2) to investigate the hooking maneuver for diagnosis of slipping rib syndrome.

Design:

Retrospective chart review of 362 athletes with rib pain.

Setting:

Pediatric-based sports medicine clinic between January 1, 1999, and March 1, 2014.

Patients:

Costochondritis, Tietze, fractures, rib tip syndrome, and unclear diagnoses were excluded. Athletes were included who had a palpable rib subluxation, mechanical rib symptom, positive hooking maneuver, or resolution of pain after the resection of a slipping rib segment.

Main Outcome Measures:

Slipping rib syndrome is associated with athletic performance.

Results:

Fifty-four athletes were diagnosed with slipping rib syndrome, of which 38 (70%) were females. Mean age at presentation was 19.1 years (range 4-40 years). Mean number of previous specialist consultations per athlete was 2.3 and mean time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 15.4 months. The hooking maneuver was attempted 21 times (38.9%). Unilateral symptoms presented in 49 athletes (90.7%). The most symptomatic rib was the 10th, affecting 24 athletes (44.4%), eighth and ninth were affected in 17 athletes (31.5%) each. Most, 39 (72.2%), reported insidious onset of symptoms. Running, rowing, lacrosse, and field hockey were frequently associated activities. Twelve athletes had psychiatric diagnoses (22.2%), 10 (19.2%) were hypermobile. Sixty-six total imaging studies were performed. The most successful treatment options included: osteopathic manipulative treatment (71.4%), surgical resection (70%), and diclofenac gel (60%).

Conclusions:

Most athletes with slipping rib syndrome were active females with insidious onset of unilateral pain, a high prevalence of hypermobility and prolonged pain. The hooking maneuver was underused.

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