Discussions By Condition: Muscle conditions

Chronic rib pain under both breasts

Posted In: Muscle conditions 11 Replies
  • Posted By: dharmabummer
  • January 4, 2007
  • 10:21 PM

I'm posting to see if anybody has had a similar problem and find out how to treat it. For the past 8 years, I've been suffering from chronic pain in both sides of my chest, directly under my breasts, on the sides of my trunk (as far down as my waist) and armpits. The pain is greater on my left side. The muscles (serratus lats) are inflammed, hot to the touch, and react with intense fire-pain with moderate pressure. I also occasionally get pain in my back in the pocket of both shoulder blades. I've been in so much pain lately that I can't sleep on my sides because this puts too much pressure on my chest wall. :mad:

I have been through years of physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture and been given many diagnoses. Most recently I was told that I have hyperflexion in my ribs which keeps my chest wall muscles inflammed because they are under constant pressure to keep my ribs in their proper place. I also have hyperflexion in my knees. It's very easy to crack my upper back by just bending forward and pushing my back out or twisting my shoulders forward.

The pain started 8 years ago (I'm 33 now) right after I began my first desk job. I can't pinpoint a specific injury that started it. Doctors originally thought I had put too much stress on my chest & back muscles as I had been backpacking in India for 9 months prior to onset of the pain. But, another doctor told me that injury should have resolved itself within 8 years. Over the past 8 years, I have had periods of inactivity and periods of physical training and it doesn't seem to make a difference pain-wise whether or not I'm working out unless I pursue an activity that directly stresses those muscles, such as swimming or certain weight-lifting moves. The pain is always there. At its worst, it hurts to breathe deeply and hold my arms over my head (making blow-drying my hair impossible).

I've been receiving deep tissue massage lately, ice packs and taking OTC anti-inflammatories (Aleve). I'm not really sure if this is a long-term solution because the pain lessens about 3 days following the massage/ice treatment but returns after 2 more days. I'm currently training to lose weight and do a triathlon. Swimming definitely aggravates the situation, and I've been advised to avoid any physical activity that involves the upper trunk. How can I resolve this problem so I can continue work on my training goals?

Thanks!
Laurie

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11 Replies:

  • Have any chiropractors assessed the anterior, or front, joints of your ribswith your sternum (breastbone) ? Ribs have joints along your spine, but also on the front of the body. Both joints of each rib are supposed to move correctly. They generally do not have a lot of movement, but IME if the front is "stuck" it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and difficulty taking a deep breath and or lifting your arms above your head. Some people have swelling in those joints, which is called costochondritis. When I have treated patients with these joint fixations, a small instrument called an activator works well.IME, though, many chiropractors do not adjust these areas. Not sure why. Have any massage therapists or others worked along the muscles between the ribs? These muscle are short, of course, and have heavy fibers. They seem to "twist" the ribs, due to the ribs being oval and going down and around the body. Not too straight a connection, like a muscle across your wrist, for example. Any previous traumatic injuries to the area on or near the breastbone ?Tough cases I have seen have often had injuries in this area.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 6, 2007
    • 11:33 PM
    • 0
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  • I have had chiropractic work before for this issue and the chiropractors I've seen were more interested in solving the problem by working on my back. I've never had x-rays of this area. I had a massage therapist, years ago, who did Swedish in between the ribs, under my armpits, and pecs. It was very painful but got less so over time. I saw her for about 6 months but stopped because I moved out of area. I'm massaging the area myself now (to the extent that I can) because I notice relief for a few days afterwards. I have never had any traumatic injury, with the exception of spraining my tailbone in a fall down some marble stairs in 2005. I will be going back to my doctor soon because I don't see massage as a long term solution. I'll ask about the things you mention. My trainer suggested I see a specialist -- I think he said thoracic? What is your speciality? Thanks!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 7, 2007
    • 07:47 AM
    • 0
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  • Adjusting the front rib attachments: Patient moves breast tissue towards the outside, using the hand on the same side. Put side of hand on breastbone and slide it outwards. Doc can then mildly push on rib near the joint to see if it moves OK. If not, an activator can be set to light pressure to then be put on the rib and the force is applied towards the outside of the body. An activator is a small spring loaded adjusting tool. Some docs use them only. The pressure can be set so light infants can be adjusted this way. Very good for colic and constipation in little ones. Call some DCs in your area and see if they have heard of this or do it. Some apparently feel that only the spine should be adjusted but that has not been my experience. Shoulders, elbows, knees, feet, hips, hands, wrists all have joints, too. I am a DC, primarily working at this time with nutrition for many types of conditions - autism, ADHD, allergies, hormone imbalances, digestion, etc. Use a BioMeridian Stress Assessment machine, which is based on Chinese medicine, for evaluation. It is a combination of ancient medicine ( I feel the Chinese may have learned a few things in the last 5,000 years ) and computerized technology.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 7, 2007
    • 02:20 PM
    • 0
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  • i too have had chronic pain along my left rib area spreading to my back for almost 9 years. i have been to every type of doctor they could think of. i have been hospitalized, drugged, poked, and prodded. medications, nerve blocks, massage and none of them work. i took a tricyclic antidepressant years ago and it did relive the pain for a while but also aggravated my thyroid and now i have a super hyperthyroid. currently i am undergoing botox therapy, which does give some relive but does not make the pain go away totally. some days i am ok and it is tolerable but others its so painful. i feel like i have knives stuck in my side and a crushing pain like some one trying to squeeze the breath out of me. it is some what nice to know that there are others out there that have these mystery pains that no doctor can explain. my biggest hurdle is that bc alot of my scans and test come out normal doctors think i am making this pain up or its not as severe as it is. it is very depressing to be in constant pain from the age of 17 to 26. all i can do is take the medicines they give me and keep putting this toxin botox in me till i hope it goes away. if anyone else knows of a possible treatment please let me know...thanks
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 11, 2007
    • 01:58 AM
    • 0
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  • I have also have similar pain in the area of my left chest that radiates to the same level in my back. I have suffered from this for +/- 30 years. It gets worse and better seemingly without reason. I attribute it to two separate injuries during my more daring youth. I am now 60 years old. I started today with my doc to try to deal with it again. Due to my age, I am first getting all the tests necessary to rule out heart problems. That is one of the worst side effects of this condition - you never know for sure if its your heart. You would think after so many years one would rule that out and realize that its the same old pain, but when it really flairs it can be very painful and frightening at the same time. Its like many other uncommon conditions - our medical community is challenged to diagnose the exact cause, and therefore recommend an effective exact treatment. I wish us all luck. Prayer can help too.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 12, 2007
    • 02:30 AM
    • 0
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  • look up costochondritis
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 21, 2007
    • 02:14 PM
    • 0
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  • Update: I was recently told by a massage therapist friend whose father is also a massage therapist specializing in lymphatic conditions to stop wearing underwire bras. She said it would take a few weeks for the pain to stop. I've been wearing wirefree bras for about a week and can tell no difference in level of pain yet. I asked my massage therapist (different person from above) to try lymphatic drainage. I had the treatment last week and can't tell a difference yet. I met with a new physical therapist who believed all my problems stemmed from unresolved emotional issues. He proposed no plan of treatment except confronting my mother regarding a long-standing conflict. I did talk to my mother and had a relatively pain-free week following that conversation. The pain did return however. I asked my doctor about costochondritis and he did an exam, pushed around the lower edges of my ribs a bit and asked if I had pain there. I didn't have any pain where he was pushing so he said I probably didn't have costochondritis. I took Neurontin for years for another condition (Bi-polar). I recently got off all my bipolar meds in July 2006 to prepare for getting pregnant. Thinking about this, I observed an increase in my chest pain starting last July. My doctor offered to put me back on Neurontin, but I want to wait after the pregnancy. So, beyond trying these things, no answers yet.
    dharmabummer 4 Replies
    • February 21, 2007
    • 07:16 AM
    • 0
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  • Get a MRI of the entire spine. Sounds like disc herniation. After three years of bad bad tests and a fibro diaginos my left side went dead and MRI was ordered many many herniations in my back. The nerves ALL come from the spine and can cause weird symptons. Hope this helped. LoisGet
    loiskerr 29 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have been through years of physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture and been given many diagnoses. Most recently I was told that I have hyperflexion in my ribs which keeps my chest wall muscles inflammed because they are under constant pressure to keep my ribs in their proper place. I also have hyperflexion in my knees. It's very easy to crack my upper back by just bending forward and pushing my back out or twisting my shoulders forward.Have you seen a rheumatologist about these symptoms? Do your knees bend so far back it's as if your knees are on backwards? It's the same with the elbows in many of the people with the condition yet not all. Has anyone ever mentioned double jointed ness to you? If you are very flexible or ever have been check out Ehlers Danlos Syndromes on google. Many of us suffer from the rib pain etc you mentioned, once diagnosed physios can manage the several problems you mentioned though there is no known cure.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • HI, i HAVE ALL THE SAME EXACT SYMTOMS THEY SAID I HAVE DERCUMS DIEASE
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I'm posting to see if anybody has had a similar problem and find out how to treat it. For the past 8 years, I've been suffering from chronic pain in both sides of my chest, directly under my breasts, on the sides of my trunk (as far down as my waist) and armpits. The pain is greater on my left side. The muscles (serratus lats) are inflammed, hot to the touch, and react with intense fire-pain with moderate pressure. I also occasionally get pain in my back in the pocket of both shoulder blades. I've been in so much pain lately that I can't sleep on my sides because this puts too much pressure on my chest wall. :mad: I have been through years of physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture and been given many diagnoses. Most recently I was told that I have hyperflexion in my ribs which keeps my chest wall muscles inflammed because they are under constant pressure to keep my ribs in their proper place. I also have hyperflexion in my knees. It's very easy to crack my upper back by just bending forward and pushing my back out or twisting my shoulders forward. The pain started 8 years ago (I'm 33 now) right after I began my first desk job. I can't pinpoint a specific injury that started it. Doctors originally thought I had put too much stress on my chest & back muscles as I had been backpacking in India for 9 months prior to onset of the pain. But, another doctor told me that injury should have resolved itself within 8 years. Over the past 8 years, I have had periods of inactivity and periods of physical training and it doesn't seem to make a difference pain-wise whether or not I'm working out unless I pursue an activity that directly stresses those muscles, such as swimming or certain weight-lifting moves. The pain is always there. At its worst, it hurts to breathe deeply and hold my arms over my head (making blow-drying my hair impossible). I've been receiving deep tissue massage lately, ice packs and taking OTC anti-inflammatories (Aleve). I'm not really sure if this is a long-term solution because the pain lessens about 3 days following the massage/ice treatment but returns after 2 more days. I'm currently training to lose weight and do a triathlon. Swimming definitely aggravates the situation, and I've been advised to avoid any physical activity that involves the upper trunk. How can I resolve this problem so I can continue work on my training goals? Thanks!LaurieThanks for your greatly needed information. I have the same exact thing along with low back pain. The pain transfer over to my right shoulder and not able to do arm rotations at all. I'm always in pain since 2000. My back went completely out 2009 August. There is a surgery for the lower back, but I attended a group session and found that many people that had the surgery already had to repeat the surgery at least three times. I'm now unable to work says my MRI and just trying to live with my pain, moving around, trying to sleep the best way I can without any serious drugs, taking aleve and trusting in God for a healing or to send someone to heal me.Freda
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 21, 2010
    • 11:54 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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