Rib Motion test is a thoracic spine examination procedure that tests for costal hypermobility or hypomobility and scoliosis.


Patient should be awake and cooperative for a Rib Motion Test. There are two ways to perform this test.

  1. Patient is in a supine position. The examiner asks the patient to take deep breaths while he examines for rib movement. The examiner places his hands over the patient’s chest or ribs and palpates for anterior and posterior rib movement.
  2. Patient is seated. The examiner checks the lateral intercostal spaces with his fingers. The patient breathes deeply while this is done. The patient also flexes laterally from side to side while the examiner palpates for rib motion.

Examiner palpates A-P rib movement; examiner palpates lateral intercostal spaces.


Positive Rib Motion Test

There is positive Rib Motion Test when there is noticeable non-uniform motion. This could indicate costal hypermobility or hypomobility, scoliosis or limited range of motion due to pain or discomfort.

Clinical Notes

Nonuniform motion during expiration may be due to an elevated lower rib. Nonuniform motion during inspiration may be due to a depressed upper rib.