Tietzes syndrome after a bad chest

by Linda

» Tietzes syndrome after a bad chest.

When my daughter was 14 she had a really bad chest; after her chest was better she said she had a pain in her back between a rib and would get quite breathless.

She was sent to see a consultant; by the time we had the appointment she was really ill she was sleeping all the time so much so she would fall asleep in school even in mid sentence, she had pain all over her body.

She had cramp like pains from her neck all the way down her spine and into her feet; she could not concentrate and her memory was affected.

She was diagnosed with ME and her life just changed within a couple of months. She had to be driven to school and could only go part time she went to hydrotherapy once a week for a year.

Eventually she felt slightly better but the pain between her ribs never went away she was sent to see a cardiologist who had an interest in ME who diagnosed Tietze's syndrome then gave her an injection of steroid and lignocaine.

I got my daughter back; she could function normally again but then he discharged her. After the injection wore off all the pain and chest infections returned she was eventually sent to see a Rheumatologist who started to give the injections again; she has been having these now for four years she has completed uni been travelling and now has a job she loves. We went for her injection which she has between her ribs at the back, not in her breast bone even though to touch there hurts.

It's the constant pain between the ribs that affects her, to be informed that after this one she needs to go for a bone density scan and that he is referring her to a surgeon to see about surgery to remove inflammation or to kill the nerve. I have been reading things about the two procedures and it's not good reading but then will her life go back to not being able to function again.

Hello Linda,
Your daughter obviously has a complex case and I think it's not appropriate to comment on the specifics of her case. I haven't had the opportunity to examine her.

But in general terms, what we see commonly in chiropractic practice is that a person develops a cough for whatever reason. Sometimes it's the coughing, but a good sneeze can do it to, but a rib head becomes subluxated.

There are three joints between each rib head and the spine, and one or more can be sprained by coughing or sneezing. It causes incredibly sharp pain in the midback, every breathe being a nightmare.

Untreated the sharp pain gradually subsides and sometimes no doubts heals itself. But in others a dull ache remains and, because the fixated joint affects the rhythm of the rib during breathing, it starts to affect the other end of the rib: the joint between the rib and the breastbone. At first just tenderness begins there, then it may become painful and eventually form a swollen nodule at the joint; that's the true Tietze's syndrome. Often there is indigestion along with it, as the diaphragm is attached to the underside of the ribs.

The chiropractic treatment of the initial "sprung rib" as it's called is usually very simple and dramatic; reducing the subluxation of the rib head is something chiropractors are faced with frequently and it's cured without drama; if treated within a few days or weeks.

Once it becomes chronic, deep seated inflammation begins and spreading pain along the rib under the armpit and towards the sternum it becomes more difficult. It still responds to chiropractic care, but a "cure" becomes less likely, as with many medical treatable, but not curable, conditions.

So where does this leave your daughter? Certainly before surgeons get their knives in, I'd recommend you have a consultation without treatment with a local chiropractor. Weigh what he or she has to say and make your decision. Take any xrays and scans with you, and perhaps print this out. The find a good chiropractor link below may be of help.

One caution: there are two chiropractic manoeuvres that are classically used. One is on the rib head, from posterior to anterior. If a heavy manipulation is done, it will probably aggravate her condition.

Better is a gentle posterior to anterior adjustment, as above, and then the second type which is called an anterior thoracic adjustment. This is what really helps with a condition like your daughter has. Plus some massage between the ribs, all the way from the spine to the sternum.

I hope this contributes; let me know how you get on.

Dr B.

» Tietzes syndrome after a bad chest.

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