Sudden sharp upper back pain after stretching

by Angelina
(Driggs, ID)

During a long bike ride, I felt a sharp pain in my left rib, I actually thought for a moment it was a heart issue.

However, two days after the event, I made a small arm movement, and suddenly felt a strong, sharp, and acute pain in my upper thoracic region, I'm guessing close to my t1-4 or maybe even in the neck area.

After reading various posts I now suspect the rib/heart pain was actually a back issue caused by long hours on the bike. When the pain hit, it was centralized, restricted my movement in my upper back and my neck. The pain did not seem to radiate much aside from some pain in the left shoulder blade. It went away after about 3-4 weeks. On a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the worst) it started at about a 7.

This was two months ago. Earlier this morning, I stretched my arms above my head, and boom, the pain hit and was stronger than the time before. I'm young, in my 30s, female and in good shape. I do spend too much time on a computer and my posture needs some work. Any ideas on what I've done to myself?

Hello Angelina,
A few questions.
1. Does it hurt if you take in a deep breath?

2. Does rotating your torso, and then tilting it to the side cause pain?

3. Do movements of your head and neck cause pain?

4. Any chest conditions we should be concerned about? Asthma, hayfever, smoker? Persistent cough?

5. Old injuries to the neck or upper spine?

Let me have some answers. From your computer please.

Dr B

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Apr 08, 2018
Shoulder blade pain for months, much worse since terrible bouts of coughing
by: Wait

Wait, I have been trying to diagnose my back pains for a while now, and as I read the questions listed I can say yes to all of them. What does that mean? I've had back pain for months now, centered in my right shoulder blade. Recently I've been dealing with a cold and terrible bouts of coughing ensued for a week. Now, my entire upper back hurts and something feels off or tightened near my left shoulder blade. My neck hurts, my shoulders ache, and it hurts to stretch or breathe deeply. What's going on guys?

Hello Wait,
It would be simplest if you were to go to Chiropractic Help and start your own thread; I can't easily access those questions to which you are saying yes.

I don't believe in rushing off to doctors for every snivel or pain, but you've waited too long for this. Remember, once you have had neck pain for six months, you've got it for life, regardless of the treatment.

The good news is that at least part, and perhaps all of this is related to a rib head subluxation; hence pain on deep breathing. It generally responds well to the chiropractic adjustment.

More difficult is that neck pain; you don't give me enough information to comment.

Dr B

Jun 21, 2017
I have this pain too
by: Anonymous

To answer your other questions, NO for all. I'm only getting this sharp pain after a stretching.

Give it a week or too, staying away from that stretching and gym work and, with luck it may settle down. A massage, and alternating cold and warm would help.

If not, it needs an examination.

Dr B

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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've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's 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's 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 painfree. 

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's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's 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 walk 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.

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. Xrays 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 year 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's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 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 couldn't 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 shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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