Rib cage & shoulder pain

by Heather
(Canada)

A first rib fixation causes nerve and arterial disturbance.

A first rib fixation causes nerve and arterial disturbance.

Rib cage & shoulder pain are common complaints at chiropractic help.

I have struggled now for years, & my condition seems to change or gravitate to another area of my body frequently. It started with a sudden aching pain in my front rib cage. My neck, shoulders & biceps then became very sore, & a good night's sleep is impossible because of the dull, aching, constant pain.

I now notice I have lower back pain, & just in the past few days, I have had my arms & hands "fall asleep." I can't get comfortable.

I remain active & walk daily. I have had some chiropractic treatments, have gone for massage therapy which feels wonderful, and have seen a physical therapist. I do stretches & take Tylenol & naproxen to manage the pain.

As you can imagine, I am anxious to know what is wrong with me, & develop an effective treatment plan. Fibromyalgia & costochondritis have been suggested as possible diagnosis but as of yet, there is nothing definitive.

Wearing a bra is uncomfortable to painful. My muscles ache constantly, & recently I have been feeling pain in my calves & thigh muscles, as well as in my forearms.

Any thoughts or advice? Could it be an impingement of some sort? What self tests or clues should I look for now?

Hello Heather,
Generalised pain of this nature suggests two things to me first of all.

1. Do you have a short leg giving you a scoliosis. Have your husband stand behind you, placing both hands on the iliac crests; it's best done with no blouse on. Are they more or less level? Then bend slowly forward. Does your spine have an obvious list to one side or the other? Is it reasonably symmetrical?

2. Secondly, is your diet high in omega-6 oils and low in omega-3?
A high ration of 6 to 3 is very inflammatory and will make you ache all over, including in your arteries. You might want to ask a dietician to evaluate it.
In short lower the omega-6 by changing to olive oil, and perhaps canola, though authorities are in disagreement there. And raise the omega-3 by enjoying fatty fish and freshly ground flax seeds.

If you press on your sternal joints are they tender? Is there a palpable lump? Costochondritis and Tietzes syndrome are miserable conditions that affect the whole rib cage, and are aggravated by heavy manipulation in the midback.

There are so many causes of tingling in arms and hands, but prime is a fixated first rib; ask your chiropractor to check it. It causes a so called thoracic outlet syndrome.

I could go on, but I think that's enough for now; our lower back exercises at chiropractic help would relieve your lumbar pain too.

Let me know how you get on. Don't expect instant miraculous change; the step up to better health is a process and by walking daily you're already at first base.

Good luck.

Dr B



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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.



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