Rib cage & shoulder pain

by Heather
(Canada)

A first rib fixation causes nerve and arterial disturbance.

A first rib fixation causes nerve and arterial disturbance.

Rib cage & shoulder pain are common complaints at chiropractic help.

I have struggled now for years, & my condition seems to change or gravitate to another area of my body frequently. It started with a sudden aching pain in my front rib cage. My neck, shoulders & biceps then became very sore, & a good night's sleep is impossible because of the dull, aching, constant pain.

I now notice I have lower back pain, & just in the past few days, I have had my arms & hands "fall asleep." I can't get comfortable.

I remain active & walk daily. I have had some chiropractic treatments, have gone for massage therapy which feels wonderful, and have seen a physical therapist. I do stretches & take Tylenol & naproxen to manage the pain.

As you can imagine, I am anxious to know what is wrong with me, & develop an effective treatment plan. Fibromyalgia & costochondritis have been suggested as possible diagnosis but as of yet, there is nothing definitive.

Wearing a bra is uncomfortable to painful. My muscles ache constantly, & recently I have been feeling pain in my calves & thigh muscles, as well as in my forearms.

Any thoughts or advice? Could it be an impingement of some sort? What self tests or clues should I look for now?

Hello Heather,
Generalised pain of this nature suggests two things to me first of all.

1. Do you have a short leg giving you a scoliosis. Have your husband stand behind you, placing both hands on the iliac crests; it's best done with no blouse on. Are they more or less level? Then bend slowly forward. Does your spine have an obvious list to one side or the other? Is it reasonably symmetrical?

2. Secondly, is your diet high in omega-6 oils and low in omega-3?
A high ration of 6 to 3 is very inflammatory and will make you ache all over, including in your arteries. You might want to ask a dietician to evaluate it.
In short lower the omega-6 by changing to olive oil, and perhaps canola, though authorities are in disagreement there. And raise the omega-3 by enjoying fatty fish and freshly ground flax seeds.

If you press on your sternal joints are they tender? Is there a palpable lump? Costochondritis and Tietzes syndrome are miserable conditions that affect the whole rib cage, and are aggravated by heavy manipulation in the midback.

There are so many causes of tingling in arms and hands, but prime is a fixated first rib; ask your chiropractor to check it. It causes a so called thoracic outlet syndrome.

I could go on, but I think that's enough for now; our lower back exercises at chiropractic help would relieve your lumbar pain too.

Let me know how you get on. Don't expect instant miraculous change; the step up to better health is a process and by walking daily you're already at first base.

Good luck.

Dr B



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