Deep upper back pain after manipulation from a layperson

by Morgan
(Midland tx)

Hello, I am a 21 student athlete and I've been dealing with an issue that's really sucked the life out of me for the past year and a half. In March of 2016 I had one of friends attempt to pop my back while I lay face down on the ground and my head turned to the left. (Every person and Doctor's first response is always,"Well why did you do that?", so if you could spare me that response I would much appreciate it, I tell myself enough that every day)

Anyway, my friend is about twice my size and he gave max effort into this "crack". At first I felt fine, and got back on the couch and started watching tv. About 5 minutes in I began to get "tunnel vision" and felt as if I was about to pass out. Not too long after I experienced one of the worst and most uncomfortable pains of my life. (I've broken my arm before and always felt I've handled pain very well, but this type of pain has consumed me for the past year and half).

About 20 minutes into the nonstop pain I called the ambulance. I was in full on panic attack. They took me to the hospital, did a couple of X-rays that came back negative. Over the next 7 months I had taken MRi's, Ct scans, bone scans, and X-rays of all areas of my spine to my chest, head, and neck. The only test that showed any kind of problem was the bone scan taken 7 months after the injury. The scan showed a lot of light directly on and to the right of where a rib connects to the sternum.

Now the most evidential aspect of all this to me is that this spot near my sternum actually protrudes from my chest where there was no protrusion there all my life. (I will include a picture of this). The strange part about it was I haven't really experienced too much pain in that area, however I have felt that my breathing has been obstructed in this area every since the injury. Also a feeling of being choked or gagged. It's hard to finish a cough and I've even felt like my voice is more shaken than previous years. I've also dealt with headaches, shoulder and elbow pain, and a sort of brain fog if you will. I've just felt in a daze ever since this happened. Perhaps it's just the overwhelming pain. The most noticeable symptom that constantly reminds me something is wrong and a lot of doctors just brush off, is the constant cracking in my neck, shoulder blades, and sternum. I've tried soft and hard touch chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, PRP and cortisone injections all with very little to no relief.

I'm almost to the point where I get my friend to do the same manipulation back the other way. I know this sounds barbaric, but is this a type of case where someone manipulated me too hard, and I can't find a chiropractor that wants to be responsible for using that type of force in the opposite direction?

I've had to quit baseball and drop out of college because I can't sit upright and focus being in this much pain. As much as I miss going to school and playing baseball, I just want to be pain free again and be able to feel comfortable and relaxed again, something I haven't felt in a long time. If you have any advice for me, I'm willing to do anything. Thank you.

Hello Morgan,
What I don't quite follow is whether he thrust straight down on your midback (with your head turned), or if he cracked your neck.

The upper back is a difficult area; it could be a local rib, or spinal injury, or it could be referred from your neck. Those midback muscles are supplied by the C5 nerve root; from the cervical spine.

If it affects your breathing then it's most likely a rib, especially as it's done something at the sternum as well.

It would seem to me that everyone has missed exactly where the precise injury is; and that's easy to do because this is a minefield.

My best suggesting is you try to figure exactly which movements cause the pain, and precisely where it hurts. For example, do movements of your neck provoke the pain? Where?

And of course it may have affected more than one joint, seeing your head was turned. Brute force plus ignorance has given you a dreadful injury.

Having located where the injury is, to the best of your ability, start looking for another highly skilled and experienced chiropractor in your area. Stay away from your friend!

I wish I had more to offer. Alas not.

Dr B

» Deep upper back pain after manipulation from a layperson

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