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Rib Pain

Rib Pain and Difficulty taking a full breath: Chiropractic often can help

Aunt Shirley had a pain in her chest and difficulty breathing a full breath.  She went to the Emergency Room. The doctors there ruled out a heart condition after a hospital stay, EKG, Stress testing, and the rest of the cardiac menu.  They sent her home and said it was “musculoskeletal” after a great deal of insurance money and time was expended.  After two DNFT® Chiropractic adjustments by the author, the problem was solved.

The biomechanical issue that Aunt Shirley had was a complex of alignment issues, including rib alignment, vertebral alignment, disc bulges, and small ligament and muscle alignment difficulties.  When a vertebra in the thoracic area is subluxated, it rarely is “just a rib.” The ribcage limits movement and involves itself when vertebrae are affected and vice versa, subluxating along with it.  The cartilaginous disc can create nerve pressure, as can the joint capsules between the ribs and vertebrae as well as the joint capsules between the vertebrae.  The narrow window where the spinal nerve exits is bordered by the disc and the nerve capsules. A subluxation in this region typically includes all of these structures which cause swelling and thus nerve impingement.

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Vertebrae are subluxated when the joint surfaces are only partially touching. A dislocation or luxation is when the joint surfaces are completely not touching.  Subluxations are characterized by inflammation of the vertebral joint capsules and bulging of the intervertebral disc.  This combined swelling is the cause of nerve impingement.

Nerve impingement in the thoracic region is typically characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: chest tightness, difficulty taking a deep breath, rib pain, and radiating nerve pain in along the course of a rib or ribs.

Chiropractic adjustments correct subluxations. The approach towards correction varies according to the way the art of Chiropractic, known as technique, is performed.

The warning signs of a heart attack are mimicked by a thoracic subluxation at times.  There are some ways to differentially diagnose this problem.  If the pain is increased upon inhalation and decreases on exhalation, it is far more likely to be Chiropractic in cause. If the pain is more right sided, this increases the likelihood it is due to subluxation.  If pressure on the spine or ribcage increases the symptoms, think musculoskeletal.  Differential diagnosis for a structural problem is most competently performed by a Chiropractic Examination, not via articles or the internet.

Thoracic subluxation is a great mimic of many other problems, because of referred pain.  Referred pain is when the cause of the symptom is different than the location of the symptom.  An example of this is a gall bladder problem giving symptoms in the right shoulder.

Hippocrates said, “Above all, do no harm.”  Many modern physicians believe this means to start with the least invasive method and increase the invasiveness of the procedures applied based on results and increased risk factors.  Because Chiropractic is relatively risk free, it should be considered much earlier in the picture than it typically is.