costovertebral joint

The bold line in the diagram (Hertling & Kessler, 1996, Fig 16-10C, p.499) approximates the axis around which the ribs move at the costovertebral joint.

This line connects two articulations:

  1. The rib neck's articulation with the vertebral body is encapsulated by the radiate ligament.

  2. The rib angle's articulation with the transverse process and its costal facets is encapsulated by the costotransverse ligament.

The diagram (Kapandji, 1974, Fig.15, p.139) shows the costovertebral axes from above. The different axis orientations produce different arcs of rib motion.

When the more superior ribs elevate, their movement expands the ribcage in an anterior direction.

When the more inferior ribs elevate, their movement expands the ribcage in a lateral direction.

References: Hertling, D., & Kessler, R.M. (1996). Management of common musculoskeletal disorders: Physical therapy principles and methods. (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

Kapandji, I.A. (1974). Movements of the ribs at the costovertebral joints. In I.A. Kapandji, The physiology of the joints: Vol. 3. The trunk and vertebral column. (2nd ed.). New York: Churchill Livingstone.

A text that contains an advanced but well-organized discussion of ventilatory biomechanics (pp. 178-192) is Norkin, C.C. & Levangie, P.K. (1992). Joint structure and function: A comprehensive analysis. (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

Last updated 10-29-00 Dave Thompson PT
return to thoracic movement during inspiration and expiration