Costovertebral Joint Sprain

Costovertebral Joint Sprain

A dislocated vertebrae is a displacement of one of the small bones in the neck (which form the spine) in relation to the others. This occurs following a traumatic injury of the head or neck.


Symptoms of a Costovertebral joint sprain include pain on moving the spine, especially twisting and side bending. There will be pain or discomfort taking deep breaths, coughing and sneezing. Pain is located to one side of the spine and may radiate to the shoulder blade or chest. The patient will experience a decrease in thoracic spine movement and tenderness over the joint in question.


Costovertebral joint injuries usually occur after a sudden movement involving twisting, bending or over-extending (arching) the spine. They may occasionally occur due to repetitive twisting or bending motions.

The joints consist of the end of a rib and a flat section of the body of the throacic vertebrae. Cartilage sits between the two bones to cushion the joint. Ligaments hold the two bones together.

Compressive and torsional forces are applied to the joint when we move. If these forces are greater than the joint can withstand, then damage may occur to either the ligaments, cartilage or both. In  some cases, the head of the rib may even dislocate from the joint.


Most costovertebral joint sprains heal on their own in time. The following may help to speed up the process:

  • Rest from ANY activity which causes pain.
  • A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to ease pain and inflammation.
  • Icing the area may be helpful to ease pain and inflammation. 15 minutes 3-4 times a day should be sufficient.
  • Once pain free, start mobility exercises such as gentle twists and side bends to get the joint moving again and prevent stiffness.
  • A professional will be able to recommend exercises to strengthen the back muscles.
  • They may also use treatments such as electrotherapy, mobilisation, soft tissue therapy and dry needling (acupuncture).
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