Severe Tietze's syndrome

by Virginia
(Morehead Kt)

In my early 20s I experienced my first case of costo. Never having to really be treated for the condition but was always cautious of my movements and it always felt a little stiff in my sternum area. Five years ago (age 33) I was reaching up to retrieve an empty box and heard a loud pop. The pain gradually got worse. So bad that I didn't think I would make it through the nights as it was hard to breathe and felt as if something had went through my entire upper chest. Did not seek medical attention at the time due to the fact my mother had recently passed and I was experiencing extreme depression at the time also. I know crazy; right?

Nevertheless I survived and the pain did ease some. Since then I have had a knot or what feels like a dislocated rib at the sternum (approximately 2nd rib from clavical on right side). I feel the dull pain everyday and flare ups are horrible; swelling, bruising, numbness and nerve pain of right arm, stabbing pain behind right shoulder blade, and the most severe muscle spasm I have ever felt. Flare ups are a complete torcher.

Within the past 2 years I have also been having the experience of what feels like my ribs have shifted and is putting pressure on my throat. This has happened a few times and its hard to swallow and breathe during those times. Seems like the more time that passes the worse it gets. Muscles in my neck seem to be pulling 24 hrs a day. My doctor has done a lot of research on this and has helped with the symptoms as much as he can and it has allowed for me to at least maintain a job. Have only had to take off 2 1/2 months during 5 years of employment but he and I both worry that arthritis has set up in these areas also due to the improper treatment early on.

Took 2 1/2 years to get my medication to where I could at least be able to function somewhat normally. During those years I had many exams, xrays, and countless blood works done; just to make a sure it wasn't something else. Heart palpitations and hot flashes was a common occurrence with me and come to find out it was from the tietze; tricking my brain into thinking I was having a heart attack and I would go into panic mode.

Last xray showed compression fractures in spine; now I'm afraid where my body is catering to the tietze it has put extra pressure on my other bones and muscle. I feel as if I am breaking in half. This is a horrible condition that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Hello Virginia,
It is nasty condition and as far as delay in treatment is concerned there is no proven treatment in the literature; so don't feel bad about that. Still you must be a strong lady to have endured that pain for so long before seeking help; most unlikely to be the cause of arthritis.

My main concern is about those compression fractures in your midback. Have you had major trauma. At 38 that is certainly unusual. There was no reference to Scheuermanns? Could you send me the x-ray report? Is there osteoporosis?

Because Tietze's syndrome often affects the joint between the collarbone and the sternum, it's not unusual to have the arm pain; pressure on the throat I suppose is a possibility but I'm glad other things have been ruled out.

Although there's no recognised treatment for this condition, because I have been puzzled by it for many years, I have worked out a protocol that helps a lot. It's not a cure, but most folk find 50% plus relief.

If you want to find a local chiropractor who would like to contact me, I'd be very happy to contribute via skype or email.

But my life is complicated; I leave shortly first for a holiday and then to do a locum in Dordrecht, Holland and not sure when I will be available to speak to him or her.

There's an outside chance I'll be in the Ashford area in late August; is Morehead in Kentucky or Kent? Since I'm not registered in the UK there's no possibility of treatment, nor would there be a charge, but we could perhaps arrange something.

Best is to find a local chiropractor who is willing to think beyond the normal.

Look to your food too; being on an anti inflammatory diet would contribute. Olive oil and fatty fish regularly would be a good start.

I hope this contributes.

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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