Several visits to the chiropractor and still hurting

by LaDonna
(Farmington, Mo.)

I had a car accident back in the beginning of Nov and it is now the end of March. I have been going to the chiropractor for probably 2 months now and I'm still dealing with pain on the right side of my back right below the shoulder blade and on my side and below my right breast. There for awhile I was having a numbness in my right arm all the way down to my elbow but that is gone.

I started out going to the chiropractor 2-3 times a week and finally last wk he said I could start coming once a wk because it was only a tad out of place now (rib #3-suppose to be 2 of them out of place though). The problem is I'm still hurting and why has it taken me 11 visits to the chiropractor to even get this far?

On top of this I have headaches a lot. I had an x ray done of my head and neck but there wasn't any concerns found. Is it normal for this process to take so long?

I read online about the slipping rib syndrome so I'm hopping I don't have that. Maybe there is something I can do to help it stay in place?

I've tried resting but after a few days I have to clean up; I have 4 kids and a husband. LOL! I appreciate your input because I don't have insurance and I'm really getting frustrated because it is taking forever to heal and its getting expensive.

Hello LaDonna,
Let's focus firstly on the positive. The most serious injury was to your lower neck, pinching a nerve with numbness in the arm. If you go to our neck pain page, find it using the search function at Chiropractic Help, you'll see that's a serious grade 3 injury. Thus far you can be well pleased; this could have easily resulted in surgery.

Oddly, the less serious injury on the face of it, has responded less well. Ribs usually respond well to chiropractic adjustments; the question is whether the injury was more serious than meets the high. Did you have a cracked rib, or even a mild fracture of the vertebra. Were xrays taken of your midback? Did you have pain on taking a deep breath in the beginning? And now? Ask you chiropractor if he's doing an "anterior thoracic" technique. Usually lying on your back with his hand under your spine.

Has hubby or one of the kids got good hands? Try lying on your left side and, using some oil, ask him to poke around until he finds the offending rib; then gently run his thumb between the ribs, all the way from the spine to the breastbone. No monkey business! Not too hard, it will be tender, but not so hard that it hurts. Do this for a couple minutes every day.

Of greater concern to me is the headaches; how frequent and how many pills do you need to take? You don't sleep on your belly? Is your chiropractor adjusting the upper neck? Talk to him about it; sometimes a change to adjusting the occiput instead of the atlas, or axis, or vice versa is the solution.

The long and the short of it is that a serious car accident always leaves its mark on you. I hear your concerns, but on balance, I'd say you are responding reasonably well to the treatment.

The greatest single concern is that research shows that with neck pain, and the headaches associated with it, if you still have pain after six months, you are now at five, you'll have pain for the rest of your life, no matter what treatment you have.

That's a big negative, but the reality is that car accidents almost always leave their mark.

I'm a great believer in gut feel; yes, it's costing you money, but on balance I'd say, looking from a distance, you shouldn't be too unhappy. Can you talk to your chiropractor? Will he take the time to listen? I'm reluctant to suggest a change to another chiropractor, but sometimes that is the solution. Is there another chiro in the same practice?

We chiros have thick skins. Ask if he would mind if you have a few treatments from a colleague.

Maybe an xray of your midback? Any tenderness of the breastbone itself on the right? Then he should start thinking of Tietze's syndrome.

I hope this all contributes. Let me know in a month or so how you are getting on.

Dr B

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Mar 27, 2015
It's me again
by: LaDonna

Thank you for your time in answering me back. I just wanted to add that even though my ribs hurt, thankfully it doesn't hurt when I breathe.

I have seen the chiropractor again today and my ribs were out once more but I did do some heavy house cleaning over the week. He did say that if I'm doing well when I come back next week I can start coming every two weeks.

Hello LaDonna,
These things are a struggle; better health always is, and after an awful injury like that, it's no exception.

If you chiropractor hasn't yet given you any exercises, ask for some; gentle stuff that you can do at home. If you have access to a swimming pool, that would be a good idea; every woman has to be strong enough to do housework.

It's good that breathing was never painful; it means you never broke a rib, or subluxated the joint between the rib and your spine; then every breath is murder.

Try to make sure that every week you are doing just a little more; too much and it'll set you back.

Good luck; write again in a month or two.

Dr B

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