PAIN IN RIBS OR CHEST MUSCLES
Pain from the ribs is usually described as sharp, stabbing pain. Often, you will feel increased pain when you take a breath. It is not surprising that people are often rushed to the hospital thinking something very serious has happened. If you have had a fall and actually sustained a fracture it is easy to understand and accept why the pain is there. However, if you have sustained a, so called, costo-transverse sprain, which often does not relate to any major trauma, it is much more disconcerting and people often think they are suffering a heart or lung problem. It is common for people to think they are having a heart attack, hence the name ‘pseudo angina’.
A costo-transverse sprain is an injury that people often wake up with. Sometimes it is caused by an awkward sleeping position, by turning in bed, or something that had previously happened but was too mild to cause significant pain right away.
Chiropractors deal with rib pain on a regular basis and do it successfully. Rib pain tends to be acute in nature and therefore respond very quickly, usually within 6-8 chiropractic treatments.
Rib dysfunction does not only cause pain in the rib cage, it can also be felt deep inside the chest simulating pain from the heart, lungs, stomach and food pipe (esophagus or gullet).
It can also give arm symptoms and frequently affects people with breathing difficulties such as asthma.
RECURRENT AND CHRONIC RIB PAIN
For some people the pain can become recurring and ongoing, for these people the problem can be a source of great frustration. When we see patients complaining of chronic rib pain, they have often had a number of chronic pain interventions. These interventions include long term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers, spinal facet and rib joint injections (cortico-steroids), which often give only short-term relief.
When chiropractors see patients with chronic rib pain there are other indicators such as a slouched posture with forward drawn shoulders. In our chiropractic clinics we often find that the pain is located at the apex of the curvature of the mid back (kyphosis) or if there is scoliosis. It makes sense, since that is the point under the most load and strain, making the muscles fatigue resulting in chronic strain of the supporting ligaments. This is often seen in people who are generally unfit with:
- Poor thoracic core muscles.
- Increased thoracic curvature (kyphosis).
- Sedentary occupations.
- Women with large breasts.
- People who carry loads for prolonged times.
- Scoliosis of the mid-back.
To help these patients in the long term, apart from treating the underlying spinal problem with specific chiropractic adjustments, it is extremely important to address the postural problem and core muscle weakness. Some of our female patients have had breast reductions, which has helped them to reduce the strain on the muscles in the mid back with great success.
CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT AND RIB PAIN
- Rule out serious medical problems.
- Detailed examination of the joints and muscles.
- Assessment of the movement of the individual. ribs
There are two types of movement of the rib:
- Caliper movement
- Bucket-handle movement
The aim of the treatment is to:
- Restore the movement
- Reduce pain
- Reduce the muscle spasm
This is done using a variety of different ‘hands on’ techniques and exercises. Chiropractic is such a versatile treatment that it does not matter how old you are, if you are affected by osteoporosis or other medical problems. There is always a suitable treatment method the chiropractor can use that is safe and effective for you.
Chiropractic treatment is always worth considering if you have any chest, shoulder or arm pain. Never delay having a check-up. The longer you leave the problem the more difficult it will be to treat.
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