Mid back pain - ribs or maybe lats?

I'm a 55 year old female, quite active with sprint triathlon training. I first visited my chiropractor 5 weeks ago after pulling my hamstring whilst running. I'd felt a tightness in my lower back immediately before the pull and hoped the chiropractor could loosen it. By the time I made the appointment the hamstring was almost better and I was in 2 minds whether I should go but I thought I may as well give it a try.

I came away with a schedule of twice weekly appointments for 3 weeks and then a review. I must admit, at the time I thought this was a bit excessive since I'd only given my discomfort level 2 out of 10.
Every treatment my back was cracked. Once, my neck was cracked. After the 5th treatment, I noticed that my back and neck seemed to be stiffening up and I had pain on my right side when breathing deeply. I went out running on the morning of my 6th treatment and was feeling quite a bit of discomfort just below my shoulder blades on the right by the end of the run. That afternoon, I had my chiropractor appointment. He cracked my back again and by the time I got home I was shivery and in quite a bit of pain. My back hurt a lot at night and I had considerable trouble sleeping for 2 nights. 10 days later I am still having trouble bending, lifting our dog who weighs about 16lbs and even long walks hurt afterwards. I have a very sore spot around a rib about half way up my back and as the day goes on I get stiffer and stiffer. I am icing and occasionally using heat.

I'm too scared to go back to the chiropractor since I'm in a lot more pain than I was initially and considerably worse off financially.

Hello Diane,
You have legitimate concerns and raise a contentious issue in chiropractic: should one treat only the presenting complaint, in your case lower back and leg pain, or the full spine?

Those who belong to the first philosophy state, if you go to a doctor for appendicitis, how would you feel if you woke up to find your tonsils had also been removed? If it's not broke, don't fix it.

The second group point out that there's strong research that the overall benefits of chiropractic are greater with a full spine adjustment.

I confess to having a foot in both camps. Initially I usually treat only the presenting complaint; I would have started with your lower back and leg pain only, and later decided whether it was wise to look to other areas that weren't actually complaining, after discussing it with you, the patient. It is after all your body, and it behooves doctors to get your consent for treatment for other areas.

Pain with deep breathing is usually suggestive of a rib subluxation; was this a temporary discomfort after treatment, or is it still a lot more painful than when you first consulted him? Iatrogenic, or doctor-caused illness doesn't only pertain to Medicine.

Were you given any exercise for your lower back; that I think is really important after any injury; perhaps the lower back exercises that you will find in the navigation bar on the left at Chiropractic Help may be relevant; you will find them rather twee, being a serious athlete, but after injury one has to start again at square one.

I'm a great believer in gut feel, Diane. I would recommend you start by discussing these feelings fully with your chiropractor; if he listens and takes your complaints seriously, then work with him. If he fobs you off, then vote with your feet; refuse further treatment.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

» Mid back pain - ribs or maybe lats?

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Apr 05, 2017
Mid back pain after chiropractic care
by: Dr B

Hello Diane,
In fit people like you, the body has amazing healing properties, but do get into those lower back exercises, and give it a chance to heal before gung-ho.

Swimming would be a good start.

Dr B

Mar 23, 2017
by: Anonymous

Thank you Barrie. Your advice is really helpful. After 2 weeks my condition is gradually improving. I'm still sore but not as much and I only notice pain breathing after I have been breathing deeply for about 20 minutes. The chiropractors did say they would give me an appointment free of charge to look into the problem but I've decided to go for a gentler, less aggressive approach and just give it time. I find walking helps a lot and I can bike with no pain. Gentle massage helps too. I'll take a look at the exercises you recommend.
Fingers crossed things will sort themselves out and I'll be back to normal soon. Thanks again.

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