Upper Back Muscle Fatigue, affecting raising arms overhead

by Deborah
(Vista, California)

Is there pain or tenderness where the rib articulates with the breastbone?

Is there pain or tenderness where the rib articulates with the breastbone?

Many years ago I started noticing more weakness in my arms while washing my car. After retiring I started having more upper back muscle achiness radiating to the front left outer side of left breast near underarm area.

It has also started to affect my breathing when pressing against this left breast area. I have to be careful raising arms to exercise because it tires the muscle making it sore. Could this be TOS or simply weak pectoral muscles since this started as I got older. I sometimes have trouble sleeping because this side breast muscle will ache laying in different positions.

I do have poor posture with forward head position, this has always been a problem for me. Don't know if seeing a chiropractor would help or an orthopedist. Could massage soft tissue help.

Tired of being tired and having these muscle aches. I am able to do yard work bending down but any overhead activity wears me out.

Good morning Deborah,
It would be wise to start with a breast examination; just to be absolutely certain that it's not an issue.

More likely it's an issue related to your posture, affecting the rib cage, possibly the first rib, and hence the possibility of TOS, and the shoulder girdle.

The head forward position you mention is significant; you may have what's known as kyphotic neck from an old whiplash and that puts chronic low grade pressure on the nerves supplying the upper back muscles and the shoulder girdle.

It's difficult for me to advise; what's really needed is a thorough, careful examination to identify the underlying causes of your pain.

You could start with a biokineticist for a month or two of postural exercises, or should go to a local chiropractor. But I'd start with a breast examination.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B



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