Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Why? multiple rib fractures no tramua

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 36 Replies
  • Posted By: scott stephen
  • April 22, 2007
  • 00:55 PM

Hi I was a healthy 31 year old male until last September. I thought I was just having some bad luck and unusually incidents, but now I am starting to worry. Just this evening I fractured 2 ribs without reason. A friend was playing around and faked like he was going to strike me in the stomach. I flinched (natural reaction) and fractured 2 ribs. This is the fourth time I have fractured ribs in just over 6 months, I have not been without rib pain during this time. I have also felt multiple pops around my strenum without do cause leaving me with weeks of pain and swelling. Just last week I was feeling much less pain then I had in some time so I was doing some light stretching and was struck with sever pain along my sterum. My doc states he ran blood test to check for potential causes. Levels that would indicate cancer and calcium, phosphorous along with a CBC.. everything was normal. Up until the time of my first rib fractures (from coughing) I was doing Yoga, swimming and working out 3-5 days a week. I have trouble getting out of bed and struggle to perform at work. Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas of what I should do or ask my PMD to do/test for next. My health insurance is through an HMO and would like to help direct my care so I don't get passed on or over by a overworked MD. Thanks, Scott
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  • Bone cancer doesn't always show up in test results unfortunately. It's only in cases where there is large destruction of bone (high calcium) or quick production of new bone tissue (elevated alkaline phosphate). Your problem is quite concerning and I'd only let an orthopedic oncologist (a bone cancer specialist) rule out the possibility.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I suggest they do a bone density test. This doesn't sound normal to me. Do you eat well? Drink any sodas or carbonated beverages or lots of caffeine? These things can leach minerals out of your system. Any other symptoms - digestive, respiratory, or others? Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3080 Replies Flag this Response
  • DOM, thanks for your reply. No I do not take much caffine, nor do I have a bad diet. I drink a large coffee 3-4 days a week. I will have a glass of OJ or Cran-Apple daily and then water (1-2 liters a day). In general I am fit 5'9" wt 175. My diet is pretty good and well balanced. My PMD has finally signed me up for a bone scan, however not a bone density test. I will follow up with him and ask if we can add this test. I am starting to worry that it may be cancer. They have tested me for cushing's syndrome and Spleen abnormalities that both can lead to problems with bone density. However all test were normal. So were my calcium and phosphoras. Thanks again for your relpy. Scott
    scott stephen 3 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi Scott. I'm also having bone related issues at the moment and have been doing a lot of research about bone cancer. Maybe I can be of some help. Cran-Apple, do you mean the juice by Ocean Spray? That's garbage, sorry to tell you. It's like 10% juice, 90% water, and 100% sugar. You need to go to a health food store (or find the health food section of your normal food store) and buy organic 100% fruit (or vegetable) juice. The general rule of thumb is that if it isn't organically grown, and especially if it's made by a major company (Ocean Spray in this case) it's actually not good for you. As I'm sure Acuann will agree, just about all commercially avalible food on the market is filled with "toxins", everything from processed sugars and fats to artificial chemicals to preservatives. As for the caffeine, if possible eliminate it entirely. It's something that the body can do without really. Bone scan might find something; it's basically injecting a radioactive contrast dye into your veins and then using an MRI or CT machine to "map" your bones. About the cancer issue- it's difficult to say, and perhaps even more difficult to think what type of cancer it could be. Did you have a CT or MRI of your chest? Did it show any kind of dark mass or other issue of concern? Bone cancer that weakens the bone itself usually shows up on x-rays or CT and so a radiologist would have been able to see some kind of destruction and presumably the mass causing it. It sounds more like you have osteoporosis or a type of bone disorder causing brittle bones. There is a medical condition known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta which causes easy fractures, but chances are that you'd have been diagnosed with this much earlier. It's suspicious that you would suddenly begin to experience these symptoms at your age instead of many, many years earlier.
    Mr. Concerned 10 Replies Flag this Response
  • unregistered and Mr. Concerned, Thank you both for your input on my situation. I am now scheduled for a bone scan and bone density test next week. My PMD has been very co-operative and responsive to my suggestions. Next time I talk with him I will ask if there is a orthopedic oncologist here in Hawaii. I know something is wrong with me I just don't know what to hope for in my diagnosis. Thanks again.
    scott stephen 3 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi SCOTT Reading your article gave me chills because I'm in the same situation.I'm so worried that I have cancer and it's not being diagnosed.6 months ago I broke my first 2 ribs from coughing (probable pneumonia)and since then have had multiple rib fractures.The first incidences of rib fractures were not found by the emergency doctors who thought that it was just pain from inflammation around my lungs.Then I started to see my family physician when the next fractures happened (at this point I didn't even know my ribs were fracturing-I just thought it was cough related pain). My doctor had me immediately in for a CT scan of my chest and a bone scan.Those results showed only that I have had multiple rib fractures. Now I'm having a full physical exam this week and am scheduled for more chest x-rays and a bone density scan in June.I am 40 yrs old with three small children and this is starting to consume me.I've done so much research and have come up with two possibilities,though my doctor is almost sure it's not cancer, I am leaning towards a diagnosis of either non-hodgkins lymphoma or a multiple myeloma.I have not yet had blood tests,but like you, they'll most likely be normal and then I'll be guessing again.I would just like an answer,either way.Please keep in touch so we can maybe help each other out. Ottawa,Canada
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Multiple Myeloma, as with most bone cancers, requires a bone marrow biopsy in the diagnosis. Usually there are a number of other indications (i.e. anemia, high ESR, etc) that would first suggest problems. Obviously bone fracturing is the most obvious symptom, however if everything else is perfectly normal then having a biopsy would probably be the best step. Unfortunately many people can have cancer and have perfectly normal blood tests so it's not that reassuring to know that "everything looks normal" in the face of CLEAR problems. Do keep in mind, though, that the rib bones aren't as sturdy as those in the limbs and thus can break much easier. Still, there is no reason that something as trivial as coughing should cause the ribs to break. For the most recent poster in the topic- though your doctor means well, I'd only let an oncologist rule out cancer. If at all possible you want to see an orthepedic oncologist as they specifically deal with cancer of the bone. At the very least get a referral to an orthepedic specialist who can run more specific bone tests (presumably including the biopsy).
    Mr. Concerned 10 Replies Flag this Response
  • Ottawa,Canada.... I have had the same thoughts and have gone over all the possibilities with my Dr. and my nursing friends. I just had my second set of blood work drawn on Friday. and more then likely it will be normal like my first set of test. With hodgkins or myeloma lab test should indicate something being wrong. Since I originally posted my problem I have cracked another rib. I have my bone scan and bone density test schedule the end of this week. I have a follow up set up with my PMD the following tuesday. I will keep you posted, and relay any information to you that may be helpfull. Much like you I was told my x-ray did not show a fracture when done in the ER. They were looking for pneumonia and did not do a specific rib series. Not until weeks later when my pain did not resolve did see my PMD and had a rib series done. Take care.. Scott
    scott stephen 3 Replies Flag this Response
  • Scott.... thanks for responding so quickly...I was anxious to hear from you. At least your blood work is normal-I think that's great, but the unknown is so hard. I will be really interested in the results of your bone scan. I wanted to mention that although my scan showed the multiple rib fractures, it also determined that my other bone structures were very solid-like my spine and sternum (I don't seem to have the pain that you have with the sternum). There were however some "pockets" around the rib bones which are probably inflammations the doctor said, but that's why I'm having more chest x-rays done (in June).I also have an incredibly hard time getting up and going in the mornings - I force myself to get up to get my son off to school, but then fall back into bed for the next couple of hours. I work part-time afternoon/evening shifts and saturdays and feel like I really have to force myself to get through it, and fall back into bed as soon as I get home.Laundry is piled up, bills are piled up and I have so much to do but don't have the energy. I also have always been very fit and healthy and this feels awful now. My physical is this Friday so I'll let you know what happens with this. Please let me know how your doctor visits and tests go. Until then, take care.... Kelley from Ottawa.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have the same problem, and had all the tests done. I've been trying for over a year to get answers. I've seen Hematology & oncology, Orthopedics, Arthritis, osteoprosis, &Autoimmune Diseases, Dr's.Blood work everything comes back normal. I hope you have better like then i did. chadder
    chadder 2 Replies
    • November 19, 2008
    • 02:43 AM
    • 0
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  • I would not say my luck is better, however the cause of my rib fractures is multiple myeloma. I have had a transplant and headed toward a second. I am not an expert on diagnosing problems, however make sure they are running all the test you can come up with to find the problem. If you have seen the specialist and they have not found the reason.. It may not have presented itself or may be something completely different from what the are looking for. Keep testing and keep looking online... take the knowledge you get online to them. Look up MM and test performed to diagnose MM. make sure your MD or Oncologist has run those test. Do the same with any other diesease people have that match your simptums. Also if you have not thought about it. Contact an Affleac Insurance person... sign up for the works now before any Dx has been reached. If I would have got that one piece of advise this process would not nearly as ******n me or my family.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • November 19, 2008
    • 05:10 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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  • My ribs were snapping like green beans, too, and finally a doctor did a bone density test and discovered it was osteoporosis. I just take calcuim and that helps a lot but make sure it's good quality.:eek:
    Monsterlove 2921 Replies
    • November 19, 2008
    • 11:42 PM
    • 0
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  • I have the same problem, and had all the tests done. I've been trying for over a year to get answers. I've seen Hematology & oncology, Orthopedics, Arthritis, osteoprosis, &Autoimmune Diseases, Dr's.Blood work everything comes back normal. I hope you have better like then i did. chadder Thanks for the info. My DR is sending me to a Metabolic Bone Specialist, I'm hoping they can figure it out. But I'm going to look into this other just in case. Hope your doing well. chadder
    chadder 2 Replies
    • November 25, 2008
    • 02:55 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I've been going through this for FOUR years! I've been tested OVER AND OVER every time I get a new fracture. At my second rib fracture, the bone scan showed an uptake in the left 7th rib (fracture was in the right 5th). The "hot" rib was removed and biopsied, results were negative. Later it was deemed I had a vitamin D deficiency. That was rectified with 150,000 I.U.s / week of vitamin D. Time went on....and two rib fractures later, I JUST finished diagnostics and testing at the Mayo Clinic. NOTHING! THEY HAVEN'T A CLUE!! I left there in tears, and I'm a strong person!! This is way above frustrating, to say the least! I've been checked for everything under the sun! What in the ***l is this???? I've even researched the Gene I.D. 444***---as crazy as this sounds---because the number 444 kept showing up all over the place. Yea, call me crazy but this is enough to DRIVE one nuts!! I'm grasping at straws here!!Now I am resigned to the fact that I will live my life as healthy as possible and every time that I break a rib, just know I will be out of commission for about 3 months while the thing heals!! This is TRULY bizarre, frustrating and disturbing. If ANYONE finds out ANYTHING about this "mystery disease" PLEASE post!!! I will be checking from time to time! There HAS to be an answer!! Thanx!*** http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=gene&term=444 (((This gene is thought to play an important role in calcium homeostasis.)))
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 15, 2009
    • 11:21 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Scott.... thanks for responding so quickly...I was anxious to hear from you. At least your blood work is normal-I think that's great, but the unknown is so hard. I will be really interested in the results of your bone scan. I wanted to mention that although my scan showed the multiple rib fractures, it also determined that my other bone structures were very solid-like my spine and sternum (I don't seem to have the pain that you have with the sternum). There were however some "pockets" around the rib bones which are probably inflammations the doctor said, but that's why I'm having more chest x-rays done (in June).I also have an incredibly hard time getting up and going in the mornings - I force myself to get up to get my son off to school, but then fall back into bed for the next couple of hours. I work part-time afternoon/evening shifts and saturdays and feel like I really have to force myself to get through it, and fall back into bed as soon as I get home.Laundry is piled up, bills are piled up and I have so much to do but don't have the energy. I also have always been very fit and healthy and this feels awful now. My physical is this Friday so I'll let you know what happens with this. Please let me know how your doctor visits and tests go. Until then, take care.... Kelley from Ottawa.I have had this same problem! Nobody believes me and Ive even been asked if my husband had hit me! I have fractured 6-7 ribs on the rights side, now I have two on the left--for no apparent reason. I have had the bone density test, and was put on Boniva. I was told I had Osteoporosis. I too am worried about cancer--as I cannot see how this can keep happening.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am a 32-year-old female with up to 6 spontaneous rib fractures. My PCP has run blood tests (which all came back normal), and a bone and CT Scan (both did not show anything conclusive to pursue). My Dr. is at the point where she doesn't want to do anything else (other than wait and see), and no other specialist are willing to see me. I am basically now at home on the couch with constant fatigue, nausea, headaches, and horrible rib pain on both my left and right side. I used to be a very active/athletic person, and now I have no quality of life. I am lost about what to do next. Any feedback from anyone here would be greatly appreciated.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have the same problem, and had all the tests done. I've been trying for over a year to get answers. I've seen Hematology & oncology, Orthopedics, Arthritis, osteoprosis, &Autoimmune Diseases, Dr's.Blood work everything comes back normal. I hope you have better like then i did. chadderI have had the same issues. Have you found out anything new?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • i never found out why. mine have heeled after 21/2 years. im careful of what i do now, i havent rode my snowmoblie in 3 years because im afraid i will fracture more. i seen all the dr's and they told me it was probably because i was a 47 year old female and sometimes it happens. not that i have ever had fracture but i turn 47 and i get them. i only knew i had one fracture, untill i had xrays and ct san, found out i had seven. i told them they were full of it. i have taken calcium for 15 years. so i havent found out anything, let me know if you do.chadder
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • i never found out why. mine have heeled after 21/2 years. im careful of what i do now, i havent rode my snowmoblie in 3 years because im afraid i will fracture more. i seen all the dr's and they told me it was probably because i was a 47 year old female and sometimes it happens. not that i have ever had fracture but i turn 47 and i get them. i only knew i had one fracture, untill i had xrays and ct san, found out i had seven. i told them they were full of it. i have taken calcium for 15 years. so i havent found out anything, let me know if you do.chadderThank you for getting back to me. :) It is interesting to me that you stopped breaking ribs. That kind of supports my doctors latest theory of 'maybe these things just happen without any diagnosable cause'. I am curious whether or not you experience any daily pain? I have been dealing with this for several years now, and it started out just as pain that would come and go, then the pain increased and just never went away. Then this past year the breaks started happening. It seems like whatever it is is progressing, and I am now experiencing daily debilitating pain. So I am curious if any of this rings true for you, and if so how do you deal with the pain. I have more tests to come, and I will be happy to share anything I find out with you. Thank you for sharing your story. :)
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I've been going through this for FOUR years! I've been tested OVER AND OVER every time I get a new fracture. At my second rib fracture, the bone scan showed an uptake in the left 7th rib (fracture was in the right 5th). The "hot" rib was removed and biopsied, results were negative. Later it was deemed I had a vitamin D deficiency. That was rectified with 150,000 I.U.s / week of vitamin D. Time went on....and two rib fractures later, I JUST finished diagnostics and testing at the Mayo Clinic. NOTHING! THEY HAVEN'T A CLUE!! I left there in tears, and I'm a strong person!! This is way above frustrating, to say the least! I've been checked for everything under the sun! What in the ***l is this???? I've even researched the Gene I.D. 444***---as crazy as this sounds---because the number 444 kept showing up all over the place. Yea, call me crazy but this is enough to DRIVE one nuts!! I'm grasping at straws here!!Now I am resigned to the fact that I will live my life as healthy as possible and every time that I break a rib, just know I will be out of commission for about 3 months while the thing heals!! This is TRULY bizarre, frustrating and disturbing. If ANYONE finds out ANYTHING about this "mystery disease" PLEASE post!!! I will be checking from time to time! There HAS to be an answer!! Thanx!*** http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=gene&term=444 (((This gene is thought to play an important role in calcium homeostasis.)))Your story sounds so incredibly frustrating! Have you been able to find anything out yet? I hope you have found some answers by now and are feeling better.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
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