The “DL” Report: NFL Week 8

I dropped the ball last week. I had in mind what I wanted to discuss about Week 7 but it didn’t happen. But we are on to Week 8 review of some injuries around the NFL. And we’re going up north to Minnesota to talk about Viking’s wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

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He sustained a rib injury against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. He has already missed several practices this week as he recovers.

Anatomy Review:

The rib cage is made up of 12 pairs of ribs. It is designed to protect internal organs, primarily the lungs and the heart. The first 7 pairs of ribs are identified as true ribs because they attach directly to the sternum Rib pairs 8-10 are identified as false ribs and attach indirectly to the sternum via the cartilage of rib 7. And finally, rib pairs 11 and 12 are floating pairs because they do not attach to the sternum at all.

The ribs are attached to the spine through joints created by the rib head, rib tubercle, and two vertebrae. The rib head attaches to two different parts of the vertebrae while the rib tubercle attaches to the transverse process (lateral projections) of each vertebrae. All the joints are then reinforced by dense and strong ligaments to prevent the ribs from excessive movement.

The ribs do have muscles that attach to them. A few of the muscles that attach to them assist in our ability to forcefully breathe in and breathe out (inspiration and respiration). Relaxed inspiration and expiration is executed through the diaphragm and a recoil of the diaphragm, but forced inspiration and expiration occurs through accessory muscles such as: pectoralis minor, serratus posterior superior and inferior, and the scalenes muscle group. There are two sets of muscles that attach in-between all of the ribs. They are known as the external and internal intercostal muscles. These muscles also help with the mechanics of breathing. They help expand the rib cage (when we are taking a breathe in) and depress the rib cage (when we breathing out).

With rib injuries you want to rule out rib fractures. That was the concern with Stefon Diggs because he took a shot to his ribs when he got tackled and when he was brought down to the ground. Since ribs are not very thick they potentially can fracture when landed on. Fractures are ruled out through x-rays and if x-rays are negative they usually fall into the category of intercostal muscle strain.

Rehabilitation Review:

Injury management of a rib injury is not nearly as active as sustaining other sports injuries. With rib injuries you can adjust the rib, if there is not a fracture. You can do soft tissue work around the site of injury (via Active Release Technique). But working with rib injuries is a lot of pain management and making sure the individual doesn’t have pain when breathing in and breathing out and making sure the ribs are protected (extra pads or a flak jacket) when the game starts.

Season Outlook:

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He’s not going to miss much time, if any. With no information coming out that he has a fracture in his rib or difficulty breathing, it’s unlikely he will miss game time. He may miss practice time to limit any sort contact he may sustain. But this is not something I see as being nagging injury through the start of the second half of the season.

Unless there’s a severe change in symptoms, it’s expected that he will play the whole game without any limitations. Happy Healing.

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As always, I don’t own the photos. Credit goes to the NFL, Minnesota Vikings, Associated Press.

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