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Local Orthopedic Surgeon Weighs In On Ben's Rare Injury

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The ribs are designed to protect the vital structures in your chest, but when ribs get injured, they can actually do damage.

That's the concern now with what Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is saying about his injuries.

Besides a sternoclavicular injury, he has a rare injury.

"Mr. Roethlisberger reported that he did have a rib dislocation. That has not been officially released by the team," St. Clair Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Perricelli points out. "The team has released he has a sternoclavicular injury."

Injuries to the SC joint and the first rib are concerning because of their location.

The sternoclavicular joint is here; just below is the first rib, and just inside the rib cage are the trachea, the pulmonary vein, and the aorta, your body's biggest, most important artery. A dislocated first rib could puncture these structures.

"Sometimes when I move it, the rib pops out of place, which is pretty painful," the Steelers' starting quarterback admits, "so I try to keep it as still as I can."

Surgery is not the usual course of action, but could be done if the rib is dislocated at a dangerous angle.

"If surgery is indicated, it's done on a relatively emergent basis," says Dr. Perricelli. "Most of these are treated non-operatively."

Rest, ice, pain medication are the typical treatments. A lot is guided by how much pain he is in.

"I try to sleep in a chair," said Roethlisberger. "It's very uncomfortable; probably a nine on a scale of one to 10."

Another concern in the area of the first rib - important nerve bundles course through there. Pressure on those nerves could affect sensation and movement in the arm, which would be very important to Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger Out Indefinitely With Rare Rib Injury (11/14/12)
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