Costovertebral Joint Sprain/Disorder Treatment

Costovertebral Joint Sprain/Disorder is a painful condition where the joints between the ribs and the vertebrae are irritated, compressed or rotated.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, our specialised treatment aims to:

What is Costovertebral Joint Sprain/Disorder?

Costovertebral joints are found between the vertebrae in the upper/mid-back area (thoracic spine) and the ribs. The surrounding structures to these joints are ligaments, cartilage and nerves. These act to support and facilitate twisting and breathing movements. Injuries or conditions affecting these costovertebral joints and ligaments can be called costotransverse disorders, costovertebral joint sprain or costovertebral dysfunction.

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What are the causes?

Costovertebral joint sprain/disorders are often triggered by exaggerated and repetitive movements involving the upper/mid-back (thoracic spine). These rotation movements can overstretch the trunk and ribcage area and surrounding costovertebral joints.

Some risk factors include:

  • Poor sitting/standing posture
  • Prolonged periods of laborious activity or repetitive rotating movements
  • Traumatic injury
  • Muscle spasms near costovertebral joints
  • Lifting, pushing or pulling with a rotation in your Thoracic Spine
  • Hypermobility can increase your risk
  • Differential diagnosis of osteoarthritis, T4 Syndrome or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

Females are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder than males, and it can occur at any age.

What are the symptoms?

  • Referred pain/stiffness in the thoracic spine – upper/mid-back
    • Usually felt as a dull ache around the shoulder blade and on one side of the spine
    • Pain radiating to the chest/ribs or shoulder is also common
    • Pain with rotating the neck can be caused by the upper Thoracic Spine
  • Muscle spasms, weakness and/or fatigue
  • Worsened pain with breathing, coughing, sneezing & rotating movements
  • Reduced range of movement, especially rotation
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Pain on palpation of the joint
  • Differential or comorbid diagnoses of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, T4 Syndrome or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
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Treatment for costovertebral joint sprain/disorder

If you are experiencing pain in your thoracic spine or chest area, it is important that you see a medical professional to rule out any differential diagnoses of cardiac or other spinal conditions. You may be referred for scans to accurately determine diagnosis.


Physical therapy is greatly beneficial at restoring movement, and reducing pain and muscle spasm. At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we tailor a unique treatment plan to aid in your recovery through:

  • Soft tissue mobilisations (massage)
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Neural Glides
  • Stretching exercises
  • Restoring range of movement
  • Postural improvement
  • Heat therapy
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Taping
  • Dry needling
  • A tailored home exercise program – specifically Thoracic Stability exercises
  • Graded Exposure to load program

Anti-inflammatory and/or analgesic medication, rest and heat packs may help some of the symptoms. Additionally, they might recommend for you to use back support (braces), or a suitable pillow.

How to book an appointment?

If you think you have costovertebral strain, or are looking for a physiotherapist near me, the team at Vitalis Physiotherapy can assess your condition to tailor a unique rehabilitation plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery.

All you need to do is just give us a call on 0410 559 856 and request an initial appointment. Please let our friendly reception staff know the background and severity of your condition.

You can visit our FAQs for more information about appointments at Vitalis Physiotherapy.


Need Help?

Are you suffering from costovertebral joint sprain/disorder? Contact Vitalis Physiotherapy now to book in your treatment.

Call our friendly team on 0410 559 856. We’d love to help.

Contact us for more information on treatment

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Sinnamon Park Village

3/58 Oldfield Road, Sinnamon Park Qld 4073


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