Rib Compression Test

What Is Rib Compression Test?

The rib compression test indicates impaired sternocostal or costovertebral joint or a rib fracture.

costovertebral joint


The rib compression test is performed when we are in suspicion that there is a rib fracture in a patient. To get the clinical evidence of the rib fracture, we will ask from the patient the site of rib pain as the site of rib pain will give you an idea of the fracture site, and after that, we will apply indirect stress to the suspected fracture site.

Precautions Before Performing Rib Compression Test 

Do not perform this test in the presence of palpable rib deformity or crepitus.

The procedure of Performing the Rib Compression Test

Position of the Patient – The patient is either in a seated or standing position.

Examiner’s Role

Step 1 – The examiner stands behind the patient with his or her hands on the opposite side of the rib cage. As you can see in the video below, the examiner’s left hand is on the left side of the patient’s rib cage. And examiner’s right hand is on the right side of the patient’s rib cage.

Step 2 – Now, the examiner will apply a medial to lateral force on the rib cage in the suspected fracture location.

Step 3 – The examiner then also applies an anterior to posterior force again over the suspected location. You can see in the video below.

YouTube video


Test Results of Rib Compression Test

Compression of the rib cage increases the movement in the costovertebral, costotranverse joints & sternocostal joints.

Performing this test in the presence of a motion restriction or other joint irritation in one of these joints can bring out typical localized pain. 

Positive Rib Compression Test

A positive rib compression test indicates pain or tenderness over the suspected involved segment. Therefore, pain along the body of a rib or between two ribs indicates a rib fracture or intercostal neuralgia. 

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Some other Related Tests

Sternum Compression Test – indicates rib fracture or rib dislocation or strain in the intercoastal muscles or imapaired vertebral or coastal mobility.

Supported Forward Bend Test (Belt Test) – helps in differentiating lumbar pain and sacroiliac pain.

Adam’s Forward Bend Test – For detecting the presence of scoliosis (either functional or structural).

Noble Compression Test/Noble Test –  To assess pain coming from iliotibial band syndrome.

Neer Test –  For detecting the presence of shoulder impingement syndrome.

Sacroiliac Joint Tests

Mennell’s Sign / Mennell’s Test – Used to assess degenerative processes in the sacroiliac joint.

Springing Test – To detect functional impairment in the Thoracic & Lumbar spine & Sacroiliac Joint

Gaenslen’s Test – To detect any pathology or dysfunction around the sacroiliac joint.

Standing Flexion Test/ Standing Forward Flexion Test – To assess sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Faber Test / Patrick’s Test – Used to assess the pathology or dysfunction at the hip joint, muscles around the hip joint, and at the sacroiliac joint.

Cervical Tests 

Cervical Flexion Compression Test –  To identify if there is a Herniated disk in the Cervical spine.

Jackson Compression Test –  To Detect Cervical Radiculopathy (Cervical Nerve Root Compression).

Spurling Test – For Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy.

Cervical Distraction Test – To detect the presence of cervical radiculopathy.

O’Donoghue Test – Helps in differentiating between muscular pain (strain) and ligamentous pain (articular problem) in the cervical spine.

Soto Hall Test – For Detecting Problem in Patient’s Neck (Cervical Spine).

Maximum Compression of the Intervertebral Foramina Test of Cervical Spine – For Detecting Facet Joint Dysfunction in the Cervical Spine.


Clinical Tests for the Musculoskeletal System: Examinations-Signs-Phenomena by K. Buckup

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