Several visits to the chiropractor and still hurting

by LaDonna
(Farmington, Mo.)


Tietze's syndrome

I had a car accident back in the beginning of Nov and it is now the end of March. I have been going to the chiropractor for probably 2 months now and I'm still dealing with pain on the right side of my back right below the shoulder blade and on my side and below my right breast. There for awhile I was having a numbness in my right arm all the way down to my elbow but that is gone.

I started out going to the chiropractor 2-3 times a week and finally last wk he said I could start coming once a wk because it was only a tad out of place now (rib #3-suppose to be 2 of them out of place though). The problem is I'm still hurting and why has it taken me 11 visits to the chiropractor to even get this far?

On top of this I have headaches a lot. I had an x ray done of my head and neck but there wasn't any concerns found. Is it normal for this process to take so long?

I read online about the slipping rib syndrome so I'm hopping I don't have that. Maybe there is something I can do to help it stay in place?

I've tried resting but after a few days I have to clean up; I have 4 kids and a husband. LOL! I appreciate your input because I don't have insurance and I'm really getting frustrated because it is taking forever to heal and its getting expensive.

Hello LaDonna,
Let's focus firstly on the positive. The most serious injury was to your lower neck, pinching a nerve with numbness in the arm. If you go to our neck pain page, find it using the search function at Chiropractic Help, you'll see that's a serious grade 3 injury. Thus far you can be well pleased; this could have easily resulted in surgery.

Oddly, the less serious injury on the face of it, has responded less well. Ribs usually respond well to chiropractic adjustments; the question is whether the injury was more serious than meets the high. Did you have a cracked rib, or even a mild fracture of the vertebra. Were xrays taken of your midback? Did you have pain on taking a deep breath in the beginning? And now? Ask you chiropractor if he's doing an "anterior thoracic" technique. Usually lying on your back with his hand under your spine.

Has hubby or one of the kids got good hands? Try lying on your left side and, using some oil, ask him to poke around until he finds the offending rib; then gently run his thumb between the ribs, all the way from the spine to the breastbone. No monkey business! Not too hard, it will be tender, but not so hard that it hurts. Do this for a couple minutes every day.

Of greater concern to me is the headaches; how frequent and how many pills do you need to take? You don't sleep on your belly? Is your chiropractor adjusting the upper neck? Talk to him about it; sometimes a change to adjusting the occiput instead of the atlas, or axis, or vice versa is the solution.

The long and the short of it is that a serious car accident always leaves its mark on you. I hear your concerns, but on balance, I'd say you are responding reasonably well to the treatment.

The greatest single concern is that research shows that with neck pain, and the headaches associated with it, if you still have pain after six months, you are now at five, you'll have pain for the rest of your life, no matter what treatment you have.

That's a big negative, but the reality is that car accidents almost always leave their mark.

I'm a great believer in gut feel; yes, it's costing you money, but on balance I'd say, looking from a distance, you shouldn't be too unhappy. Can you talk to your chiropractor? Will he take the time to listen? I'm reluctant to suggest a change to another chiropractor, but sometimes that is the solution. Is there another chiro in the same practice?

We chiros have thick skins. Ask if he would mind if you have a few treatments from a colleague.

Maybe an xray of your midback? Any tenderness of the breastbone itself on the right? Then he should start thinking of Tietze's syndrome.

I hope this all contributes. Let me know in a month or so how you are getting on.

Dr B

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Mar 27, 2015
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It's me again
by: LaDonna

Thank you for your time in answering me back. I just wanted to add that even though my ribs hurt, thankfully it doesn't hurt when I breathe.

I have seen the chiropractor again today and my ribs were out once more but I did do some heavy house cleaning over the week. He did say that if I'm doing well when I come back next week I can start coming every two weeks.

Hello LaDonna,
These things are a struggle; better health always is, and after an awful injury like that, it's no exception.

If you chiropractor hasn't yet given you any exercises, ask for some; gentle stuff that you can do at home. If you have access to a swimming pool, that would be a good idea; every woman has to be strong enough to do housework.

It's good that breathing was never painful; it means you never broke a rib, or subluxated the joint between the rib and your spine; then every breath is murder.

Try to make sure that every week you are doing just a little more; too much and it'll set you back.

Good luck; write again in a month or two.

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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