Mid back knots causes chest discomfort

by Cynthia L
(Los Angeles CA)

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Mid back "knots in the muscles on the left side only - for years now - causes chest discomfort and fast heartbeat

For years I have had a bad back, mostly left side. I am a female, 60 years old and weigh 200 lbs (yes, I know, part of the problem.) I have a mild curvature which I think is getting worse as when I lie down, my ribs on the left side visibly stick out further than on my right side. You can also see this when I am standing up.

I have had MRIs of the cervical spine years ago (10 years or more) that showed bone spurs at three C levels (I think they were C3, C4 C6). I had the MRIs because I was getting various symptoms from my neck including pain, headaches, inability to turn my head to the left or right (at different times, different sides).

Now, at 60, I can no longer lift anything, even a 12-pack of soda. It doesn't hurt at the time, but that night I will pay the price with waking to numb hands. Or worse (only one time that really scared me) I couldn't lie down without immediately feeling the numbness in my hands (first three fingers only).

I also have a secondary problem in my upper mid back, left side. This is the reason I am writing to you today. For years now, if I lift something wrong, or sleep wrong, I will get a knot in the muscles on the upper left side of my back (trapezius area near the spine). If I don't do something about it, and it gets worse, it begins to affect something inside that makes me feel the muscles might be squeezing around an artery. I think this, because when the knot is at its worst and the knots have extended up and down the left upper mid back, I will feel a very uncomfortable tightness through the inside to my chest but deep inside. If I bend down, turn and reach for something, or other extension movement, I will feel dizzy, fast heartbeat, ill. It makes me stop dead in my tracks when it happens. Are the knotted muscles squeezing around an artery, or my heart, or aorta? Relief comes when my daughter will use her elbow to rub out the knots. She says she can feel them - numerous, sometimes large. Also, if I remember to do so, stretching my arms in front of me helps to pull out or stretch out the knotted muscles before they get to the point I described above (really reaching and stretching like I have my arms wrapped around a big tree trunk in front of me and I am trying to touch my fingers together on the other side of the trunk).

Also, to pinpoint further the pain and muscles involved, when I am feeling this, I can make the tight muscles ache by extending the left arm around in a big arch in front of me (like I described above about the tree trunk), and rotate my head as far right as possible. Or drop my chin to my chest while doing the same with my left arm.

Hello Cynthia,
What surprises me is that you make no mention of ever having consulted a chiropractor. But you live in the home of chiropractic, and LA in particular has one of the best chiropractic colleges in the world. These are the kind of symptoms that face chiropractors on a daily basis.

The midback is one of the most difficult areas as, it can be:

1. be referred from the neck. Deep upper back pain ...

2. be caused by a midback subluxation.
Thoracic spine pain ...

3. Or midback arthritis.

4. Or a subluxated rib. Rib pain treatment ...

5. Referred pain from an inner organ like the lungs, stomach, pancreas...

All of these need to be considered. The last (5) is unlikely since it's chronic. If you had pancreatic cancer, you would have died a long time ago!

The rib conditions certainly give one tightness of chest and sometimes referral to the breastbone area. A condition called Tietzes syndrome can occur too. Use the Search this site … for these terms.

Most likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome ... which affects the first three, and sometimes the ring finger too. It's virtually always connected to that lower cervical spine arthritis that you describe.

None of these are caused by your obesity, it's simply an aggravating factor. That pain you are getting when you lift a six pack of sodas is trying to tell you something! Don't lift them, especially in the supermarket. They come in two forms, one with sugar which makes you fat, the other chemicals that make you sick. Take your pick.

Address these issues, Cynthia, hard though it may be, or the rest of your life is going to be miserable. You haven't mentioned it but I'll lay my last dollar down there's foot pain, knee pain and others lurking there too.

The best way to lose weight, the only way as far as I'm concerned to do it healthily is to get back to fresh fruit, salads, vegetables and strongly limit the starches in your diet. Sodas, potatoes, white rice, bread, pasta... The diet your grandmother enjoyed.

Go from Mid back knots causes chest discomfort to Chiropractic Help home index page …

Find a good chiropractor may be your next step.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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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 have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is 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 is 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 pain-free. 

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 is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has 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 stroll 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; he has a short leg.

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. X-rays 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 few months 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 is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year 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 could not 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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

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