Slipping Rib Syndrome

Frequently Asked Questions


Slipping Rib Syndrome (SRS) is a rare condition where the costal cartilage on a person’s lower ribs slips or dislocates from the rest of the rib cage. This leads to movement of the effected rib which can compress the nerve running under the rib above.

There are other variants of SRS that can affect ribs 11 and/or 12. These are sometimes referred to as Floating Rib Syndrome and/or 12th Rib Syndrome. Patients can sometimes have both SRS and Floating Rib Syndrome.

Traditionally, surgery for this condition involved removing the effected rib to prevent it from slipping and irritating the surrounding nerves. However, this only helped a limited number of patients as the underlying instability of the chest wall remained, and hence there was still movement of the remaining part of the rib and the nerves.

A newer surgical technique performed by Mr Alam is called a chest wall stabilisation procedure. This operation was first described by Dr Adam Hansen (Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon at United Hospital Centre, West Virginia, United States).

Mr Alam has worked with Dr Hansen to gain insight and experience.

Diagnosing SRS is challenging because it is rare, symptoms differ from patient to patient, and other conditions may cause similar symptoms.

It is often a diagnosis of exclusion. This means other conditions that could be causing symptoms are ruled out first using imaging. SRS is often confirmed by physical examination.

SRS does not usually result in any long-term damage and in some cases, symptoms resolve.

Conservative treatment often includes avoiding strenuous activity, exercise therapy, a single nerve root injection, and medications such as anti-inflammatories.

If symptoms persist, surgical treatment can be considered. Mr Alam performs a technique called Chest Wall Stabilisation, read more here.

There are a number of reasons for failure of the surgery.  Some of these may be amenable to a repeat operation which may involve the use of an absorbable plate. 

Dr Adam Hansen has developed his 3.0 approach which involves using an absorbable plate in the first instance. Mr Alam has experience in the technique and uses it in certain circumstances.

Mr Alam is happy to provide second opinions.  He is also happy for his patients to get second opinions from other surgeons, including Dr Hansen.

If you are having surgery with Mr Alam you should plan to spend approximately 3- 5 days in Melbourne. Our team can help with your travel, accommodation, and visa support. This will be discussed at your consultation with our team

For clinicians, referrals can be submitted here.

If you are a patient, you will need a referral for your treating clinician. You can make an enquiry here and our friendly admin team will be in touch to guide you.


Costs associated with surgery can vary somewhat, but our team will provide you with a detailed quotation.

If you have any other questions, please submit a patient enquiry form.