What Are Floating Ribs ?

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Define Floating Ribs

Floating ribs can also be called the vertebral ribs. They don't ventrally bind with the sternum but are only attached to the vertebral column. They are the very last two groups of ribs, the 11th and 12th pair, are known as the floating ribs. The floating ribs are relatively smaller and also have tips that are cartilaginous. They are only attached to the thoracic vertebrae, so they are often referred to as the vertebral ribs and that there is no ventral side current linkage, hence the name floating ribs.

The 12 pairs of sternum consist of:

  • True Ribs: In the human skeleton, twelve pairs of ribs are present. True ribs are defined as the very first seven pairs of ribs. They are vertebrosternal, i.e. they are directly articulated by sternocostal joints ventrally with the sternum.

  • False Ribs: The last five sets of ribs, including the floating ribs, are regarded as false ribs. The 8th, 9th and 10th sets of ribs are all the other false ribs. These are classified as the ribs of the vertebrochondrum. They are bound by hyaline cartilage to the 7th pair of ribs. The elasticity of the joints helps the rib cage to be shifted during respiration.

Floating Ribs in the Human

The human rib cage consists of 12 sets of ribs, some of which have been connected to a bony process called the sternum in the front of the chest. Through cartilage which forms at the end of each rib, the very first 7 ribs connect directly to the sternum. Others bind indirectly since they are bound to the above rib cartilage.

The last two sets of ribs may not connect at all to the sternum at the very edge of the rib cage. Since their only connection is located at the back of the rib cage, fixed to the vertebrae of the spine, such ribs are known as 'floating ribs'.


The rib cage is a bony structure in the chest that is located (thoracic cavity). It consists of 12 sets of ribs. Every pair is numbered depending on their connection to the sternum, a bony process that acts as an anchor point at the front of the rib cage. The cartilage developing at the end of each rib (the costal cartilage) binds to the sternum whether directly or indirectly.

What is the Function of the Ribs?

  • One part of the human respiratory system is the human rib cage. The thoracic cavity, which comprises the lungs, is enclosed. When the muscular diaphragm expands and flattens on the floor of the thoracic cavity, and inhalation is carried out, as the contraction of intercostal muscles raises the rib cage up and out.

  • Three planes are powered by the expansion of the thoracic cavity: the anteroposterior, vertical, and transverse. The vertical plane is expanded by the aid of the contraction of the diaphragm and the relaxation of the abdominal muscles to withstand the downward pressure provided by the contraction of the diaphragm to the abdominal viscera.

  • By the diaphragm itself going down, rather than merely flattening the domes, a greater extension can be accomplished. The second plane is anteroposterior and a movement called the 'pump handle' extends this.

  • The ribs are able to pervert and create what is known as the bucket handle movement when the diaphragm contracts, encouraged by gliding at the costovertebral joints. In this way, it increases the transverse diameter and can fill the lungs.

Treatment of Ribs Injury

Diagnosis of Rib Injury can be done through the below-mentioned ways:-

  • X-ray: 75 percent of all fractures amongst the total number of floating ribs are caught. They may also indicate other complications, such as a lung that has collapsed.

  • CT scan: This type of image reveals fractures on X-rays that do not exist. If they think the X-ray overlooked something, the doctor would want you to have one. Soft tissue and organs, such as your liver, lungs, kidneys or spleen, may also be impaired.

  • MRI: These images will display fractures that X-rays miss, much like a CT scan. They can diagnose soft tissue and organ damage.

  • Bone scan: This will do a great job of seeing where the harm is whether you have a stress fracture in a rib or a prostate cancer history.

Treatment of Rib Injury can be done through the below-mentioned ways:

  • It takes about 6 weeks for most broken ribs to recover.

  • In order to encourage yourself to recover without injuring yourself again, take a break from sports.

  • To relieve pain, put ice on the place.

  • Take pain relief, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor can prescribe something for you if you need something better.

  • To stop pneumonia, take some deep breaths. The most prevalent thing you may get with rib fractures is a lung infection. In order to help you to breathe deeply, your doctor can give you a simple device.

  • Don't wrap something around your ribs strongly as they heal. You might not want your breathing to be limited by anything.

Floating Ribs Facts

  • In very rare cases, Humans can have a rib just as a Gorilla. 

  • Sneezing can lead to a Rib Fracture. 

  • Ribs tend to move like a bucket handle. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which Ribs are Floating Ribs? Also, Give the Total Number of Floating Ribs in Humans or How Many Floating Ribs are Found?

Ans. There are usually 12 pairs of ribs in humans. Costal cartilages connect the first seven pairs specifically to the sternum and are referred to as true ribs. The 8th, 9th, and 10th pairs of false ribs (number of floating ribs in human) do not actually bind to the sternum, but are bound by cartilage to the 7th rib. The floating ribs in humans of the 11th and 12th pairs are half the size of the others and do not hit the front of the body.

2. What is the Function of the Ribs?

Ans. The ribs are the thoracic cavity's bony structure. The ribs constitute the major thoracic cage system that protects the thoracic organs, but their main function is to facilitate breathing.