An uneven rib cage can be the result of trauma, a birth defect, or another condition. If your rib cage is only slightly uneven, you may be able to improve your condition with repeated stretching and exercise.

More serious cases of rib cage unevenness may need to be fixed surgically. Sometimes a custom brace can correct your rib cage. Learn more about the potential causes of your uneven rib cage and what exercises may help.

An uneven rib cage can cause problems with your breathing, posture and possibly your body confidence. Some causes of an uneven rib cage include:

Trauma

If you’ve had a trauma to your ribs such as a break or sprain, you may have an uneven rib cage. If time has passed since the incident, your ribs may require surgery to regain symmetry. If your injury occurred a short time ago, consider talking to a medical specialist to assess your rib injuries and promote symmetrical healing.

Birth defects

If you’ve had an uneven rib cage from birth, it may be from a birth defect. You may be missing a rib or your rib cage may be naturally flared. If your rib cage is causing you distress or pain, you should speak to your doctor.

Rib cartilage deformities

Deformities such as pectus carinatum and pectus excavatum affect roughly 1 in 1,500 children. These deformities cause the chest to bow outwards or inwards. Many cases of rib deformities are corrected with a brace, but some may require surgery.

Muscle weakness

If your rib cage is slightly uneven or protruding, it may be due to a muscle weakness. Your abdominal muscles play a large role in holding your rib cage in place. If your muscles on one side of your body are weaker, it may be causing one side of your rib cage to stick out or sit unevenly.

Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you may also have uneven ribs. Due to your spine’s abnormal curve, other parts of your body may adjust to accommodate the curvature.

In cases of slightly uneven ribs, your doctor or physician may suggest exercises to help your muscles hold your rib cage in place.

Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles can help align your rib cage and improve breathing. If your uneven side is weaker, adding extra exercise repetitions to your weaker side can help you build a more even appearance.

Some recommended exercises often include:

Your doctor or physical therapist may have more exercises to help your rib cage appear straighter. Consult your doctor before beginning any new workout. Make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly to ensure you don’t injure yourself.

If your rib cage is slightly uneven and not causing any serious health concerns, your doctor may suggest exercises or physical therapy to correct the issue. If the unevenness is severe, you may need surgery or a corrective brace.

If your uneven rib cage is due to serious trauma, contact a medical professional immediately.