Swollen around sc joint

I was on vacation with my family and know I was pulling luggage and carrying my heavy laptop bag which I always do for work. On the second day of vacation we were out all day and I carried a light backpack about 4 lbs on my back most of the day. Two days later after walking to a meeting with my laptop bag I felt an ache in my right collarbone and neck area. I placed my hand over my collarbone where the pain was and noticed a lump over my sc joint. I panicked! I looked in the mirror and it was obviously protruding slightly. In certain positions you couldn't tell but in others it was very clear. When I roll my shoulder back (to a proper posture position) I hear cracking and popping on this side. I also have some tightness and tenderness on my neck where it meets my shoulder and across my collarbone. When I lean my head on the opposite side (stretching that muscle) I get pain and discomfort.

I have had pain on the joint area before but it comes and goes. I see a chiro regularly because of arm pain and tingling but adjustments of my neck always make it better. My chiro says that my shoulders roll forward automatically and are very weak. I work from home at the computer 8 hours/day. I also have a bad habit of holding the phone with my head tipped to my shoulder instead of using a headset while I type.

I had an urgent care doctor look at the lump. She said it is soft and seems swollen. She said its not a lump but more like a swelling to the area. She couldn't feel a defined lump but can see the bulging directly on and below the AC joint. I have an apt with my chiro tomorrow but I'm really worried. I'm scared of what this could be. I looked at old pictures and realized that my right AC joint was maybe always a bit bigger but I know I never had a bump or swelling this big. I'm scared this is a lymph node and something serious but I can't feel an actual lump. I dig around the area and it's swollen and feels soft and squishy but nothing defining an actual lump. I'm really worried. I trust my chiro but sometimes he is quick to say it's chiro related and I want to trust him and be certain it's nothing serious to be worried about.

It's either a strain of the Sterno Clavicular joint or, more likely, a condition called Tietze's syndrome which affects either the SC or costo sternal joints.

It's not serious in the sense of being cancer, but it certainly can be very painful and debilitating.

There's no proven medical or chiropractic treatment, but I successful treat it by mobilising the joint and doing soft tissue work around the joint and along the clavicle.

Are any of the rib sternum joints tender? Swollen? I recommend no heavy posterior to anterior adjustments in the mid back; it will often aggravate Tietzes syndrome. An anterior thoracic technique is better.

Get out of that telephone habit. A good headset from Amazon is about the cost of one chiropractic treatment.

Because the brachial plexus of nerves passes through a gap just behind the clavicle, Tietzes syndrome is often associated with tingling in the arm. Read the page at Chiropractic Help. https://www.chiropractic-help.com/Tietzes-syndrome.html

Perhaps print this out for your chiropractor.

Let me know what transpires.

Dr. Barrie Lewis

Comments for Swollen around sc joint

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Dec 01, 2014
by: Anonymous

I don't have any specific trauma but have always had shoulder pain, numbness down my arm, my ulnar nerve bothers me when I leave it against the table on that side only. So the only trauma they think is overuse of the arm specifically sitting at a computer and on the phone a lot. I don't see a way to attach a file. How do I send a picture of it?

A tender swollen lump over the SC joint, in the absence of any specific trauma is, in my book, Tietzes syndrome until proven otherwise.

A thoracic outlet syndrome would be confirmed by a positive Adson's test.

And pinched nerve in the neck by a positive Upper Limb Tension Test, and Spurling's Sign.

I have after many years of struggling with the treatment, there's no scientifically proven treatment, worked out a procedure that works most of the time; may not cure it, but reduces the discomfort and tingling. Your chiro could skype me if he's interested.

Send the attachment to Contact.

Dr Barrie Lewis

Nov 28, 2014
Update on Tietze's lump
by: Anonymous

Thank you. I did get a new headset and started using it. My chiropractor said my collarbone was dislocated and that it was just swelling in the area. I saw a regular doctor about it because I was really worried that it looked so much like a lump and you are right I am scared it could be cancer. My regular doctor thinks it is a cyst. He said it could be from continuous trauma that causes the cyst to come and go depending on over usage. They could do further tests but he suggests waiting 6 months to see if it gets better or not. I'm not sure why I'm not 100% satisfied but seems like I get so many guesses. Thanks for your feedback and advice from your experience. I will watch over the use of my arm and with the help of headset and carrying things more often on my other arm I might notice a difference.

I don't remember you mentioning trauma, but yes a sprained joint is certainly one of the differentials.

Can you send me a photograph? It's quite difficult to get it to show up, you have to play with the light.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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