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Thoracic pain radiating to my front ribs now.....

SherrySSherry Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Sherry Swearengin


  • You're hurting my ears! (G) Please turn off the CAPS lock as online forums and chat - it is deemed yelling. :)

    If your seeing "stars" you might want to get with your doctor as soon as you can! There are a lot of things that can cause you to "see stars." As for the pain your describing, fortunately I only go through that very infrequently. I have a constant "burn" in my ribs below my breasts that varies on its pain levels, and too I get the 'ice pick' in my lower thoracic.

    I can't think of any specific exercise short of gentle stretching that has helped me at times. Hot Hot Hot showers also help me - abet short term. My pool is now getting too cool to swim in as well. I miss my pool time! It's still warm down here, but the high 60's at night is killing the water temp fast! Please try and get with your doctor about your pain levels increasing, and too the stars you are seeing. Gentle *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I agree with Brenda, that it is worth trying gentle stretching of the muscles over your thoracic back. A warm shower feels good too and sometimes, when in pain, I use ice to try to help.

    Definately speak to your doctor to let him know that your pain has got worse.

    I am having an MRI scan done on Friday. I had thought that my doctor had ordered a cervical and thoracic spine scan, but the MRI Centre tell me it is only my cervical spine that they are going to be scanning. How frustrating!! I am having problems with my neck, but my thoracic spine is also screaming at me.
  • Hi Sherry,

    I truly am sorry to hear about your thoracic pain and rib pain. I battle these pains every day. (Please click my avatar for my history).

    Do you have a muscle relaxer you take? I would start with that and then lay down with warm moist heat all around your rib cages. Do the warm moist heat for about 20 minutes on your ribcages. After the warm moist heat, elevate your legs and place a heating pad under your thoracic area. If you have Lidoderm patches, you can place two (one each) on your front rib cages and these help to numb the rib cage fascia, which can very often be sensitive to touch.

    If you are prescribed any pain killers or an anti-inflammatory, take these as well.

    Heat, rest and try whatever works to distract yourself. The more we tense up during these episodes, the more intense the pain becomes.

    Please keep us posted with how you are doing.

    Also, keep a pain log going so you can share this with your doctor. I wouldn't recommend any stretches at this particular point, but your doctor might when you see him/her.

    Wishing you less pain,


  • I think that your advice for Sherry may help me too. Can you describe how you apply moist heat to your rib cage. Do you use warm, damp towels and wrap them around your body?

    I have still not had a definate diagnosis as to whether my chest/abdomenal pain that got me to visit ER during the night was due to my thoracic spine or gall bladder/pancreas problems.

    I am still awaiting an Ultrasound abdomenal scan to hopefully shed some light on it. Although I still have the tightening around my ribs and other stabbling and nerve pain, nothing like the severe pain of 3 weeks ago.

    How are you getting on Tammy? Hopefully improved since your flare up.
    Take care :-) >:D<
  • I am doing much better! Thank you for asking. :)

    I had a couple of nerve blocks and several injections about 10 days ago for my "waist down" issues and they are helping tremendously. I am doing the one finger typing at the moment, as my left leg and hip are not behaving right now... lol. I am laying on my right side and typing with my left pointer finger until things calm down. Feels like it's all nerve pain, so I am watching the clock for my next dose of Neurontin to take.

    Like you, I had my first ER visit a few weeks ago since 2008. I was thinking I had a kidney infection or bladder infection brewing, as my upper back and lower back were in excrutiating pain. I could not get comfortable at all. I have a history of kidney stones and bladder infectons, so my doctor told me to go to the ER. Turned out my plumbing is crystal clear and in good working order. That was really great to hear! The ER doctor took tons of blood, started me on an IV and pushed anti-nausea meds, several doses of Dilaudid and a hefty dose of Valium. She gave me a diagnosis of being locked up in hard spasms both in the thoracic area and lower lumbar area. The ER doctor and staff were incredible. They kept switching out hot blankets both under me and across my chest and ribs. Once my resting heart rate went down to 80 she released me and told me to follow up with my PM doctor. I went to my regularly scheduled monthly PM appointment and was asked how the Valium worked for me in the ER. I told them it worked very well and it really calmed my hard spasms. I was then prescribed Valium to take for any painful spasms I get.

    Yes, I use warm/hot moist towels around my rib cages. Mike runs them under the bathtub faucet, wrings them out and wraps me up. We purchased a clear shower curtain that I lay on, while using the hot towels.

    Let me know how your ultrasound turns out. I do hope your gallbladder checks out okay. If you click on my medical history, read the part about another diagnosis I was given in August. See if it resembles your chest pain. It begins with a C... can't think of the name off hand.

    Those stabbing thoracic pains are so mean and cruel. Heat, heat, heat is how I try to diminish them. And, of couse, our meds. If only we could turn into mermaids and live in the water... it would take all that pressure off our spines and we would look pretty cute wearing some dazzling mermaid thingy's. What are those called? Brenda might know... she knows some really cool stuff and will be my pool noodle caretaker at our Spiney Gathering. I look so forward to meeting everyone. :)

    Wishing you less pain and thank you for asking about me. Happy to report that I am doing much, much better. :*

    Hugs and love,

    Tammy >:D<

  • to hear that you are doing much better. :-)

    Do you have any idea why moist heat is better than dry heat?
    I can't think what would make the difference. I am a person who likes to understand 'why' things are the way they are, and this is something that intrigues me. :?

    I hope that you will continue to improve.
    It sounds like you have a very kind and loving husband there. ;) He must be a keeper. :D

    Gentle hugs >:D<
  • I have a great moist heating pad called a Thermophore, and the 14 x 27 size is great for wrapping a good ways around the ribcage. I wrap it back to front then switch it around; the only thing is that it gets VERY hot. I am on heating pad #4... it is definitely my best friend!

    Something my physiotherapist suggested to me is laying on a rolled up facecloth; I put it right under my t-spine (it's around T6, I think, that I have the worst pain) and do deep breathing exercises. I also use a tennis ball in a sock when I'm sitting in a chair or standing against a wall.

    I haven't found anything outstanding that works for the pain in the front of the ribcage, other than easing off the pain in the back and doing as much deep breathing as possible.

    Take care, and good luck.


  • I use a the therapy trigger point massager it is the shape of a fish hook, I have a electric one. I have bad spasms in my T-spine and this help and I take 700mg soma and 4mg dilaudid also doing water therapy
  • Since I last posted on this thread, my ribcage pain worsened substantially, and I couldn't seem to get it to ease off.

    This past week, I went to see a doctor about Botox trigger point injections in my back, and ended up chatting with her about my rib pain. She felt around for trigger points and found a few that were extremely tender (by that I mean more tender than usual; I always have at least a dozen that are pretty nasty), so asked me if I'd like a few lidocaine trigger point injections while we wait for approval on the Botox.

    She did 12 or 15 lidocaine TrP injections, several of which were on the sides (both left and right) of my ribcage, and I have had HUGE relief for the past five days.

    I've only ever had these done right in my ribcage once, and it was several years ago, but I don't think I had the results that I had with this round.


  • For those of you you asked me to let you know the results of my ultrasound scan.

    They have found that I have several gall stones!
    Not sure what will happen now, but in a way I am relieved as the solution should be much easier than the solution for thoracic problems.

    I am not convinced that they are the answer to all my pains, but certainly the awful pain in the front that got me to ER was probably from the gall stones.

    Tracy, so pleased that you have achieved such good results with these trigger point injections. :-)
  • Tracy- that is great news. I hope that you continue to feel better.

    Jelly- I hope the gall stones can get taken care of quick.

  • It's almost a month now, and that nasty rib pain has not returned...touch wood!! I hope the trigger point injections might be a viable option for some of you out there!

  • I started out having pain in the middle of my Back and sharp pain coming from there around my bottom right rib cage. This was several years ago. Went to three different Doctors and they all said nothing was wrong. Not conveniced I went to one more. Ended up seeing a Nurse Pracationer. When I explain the problem she knew exactly what the problem was. She requested a MRI and It came back showing my T-6 and T-7 were inverted. And I had several bulging Disc in my Lower back. This whole thing has turned into a total nightmare. Started out with pain med's and cortizone shots. Got so tired of this routine, I went to a specailist at Vanderbuilt. Had another MRI done and I could not believe this Doctor told me there wasn't anything wrong with my Back. I told him there had to of been some mistake. He didn't want to hear it and blew me off. So I went to another Doctor and he looked at my MRI and couldn't believe what he saw. My T6 and T7 were so inverted, also covered with Arthritis. They had taken some more X-Rays and The young lady doing the X-Rays happen to be new and when she took the The X-Ray while laying on my side it looked like I had a curve in my Spine. I thought just great. But after futher examenation the Doctor said it wasn't curviture of my spine. Just alot of Arthritis built up. But the pain seems to get worse as the years go by. Now I take Three 60mg of ER Morphine, Roxy 30 three times a day for outbreak pain and Xanax and Soma. But It still getting worse. I hate taking these pills. They have ruined what life I had left after dealing with the pain on a daily basis. Now I have to go every month, take a Drug test and Take these Pain pills just to function. The morinings are the worse. This has really taken a toll on me mentally and physically. I'm only Fifty and I just can't see doing this the rest of my life. Now my Feet hurt, my hands are so dum it wakes me ups several times during the night. My back feels like someone is sticking a hot knife in between my shoulder blades. All I do is work and try to deal with this the best I can. My Doctor has me diagnosted as having Chronic Pain Syndrom. He doesn't seem to think I should be having all this pain. When I go in to talk to him every month I explain to him how things are going and he just seems like I want more pills. Hey, if it were up to me I wouldn't take another pill for the rest of my life. I hate them and having to take them. He milks my Insurance every month I go. I just would like to know if this is what I've go to look forward too for the rest of my Days. Because this is NO life, I feel awful most days. Every morning feeling so Dope sick until my med's kick in. And then in the evenings the pain is unbearable. I don't do anything I used to enjoy in life. I was a Power Lineman for Twenty Years and Raced Dirt Bikes. Never Fail off any poles but climbed a lot. Never had any Wrecks that were very serious, but I think I have wore out my body pretty much doing all the manual labor and my sporting hobbies. Water skied alot too. But I tell you this is the worst thing I've every went through. They say there is no surgury to help. Even if they could they would have to go through my Chest to get to the two inverted Disc in the T6 T7 area of my spine. Any help of advise would be greatly appreciated. I'm 50 But look 35, but feel like I guess a 75yr old man would. This is really depressing. Take Paxil for that.
  • Welcome to Spine Health Mark.

    I am really sorry you are going through this. I have very similar issues. Sadly the thoracic spine is one of the harder less desirable cases for neurosurgeons and orthosuregons to work on. Some "old schoolers" don't believe the T-Spine can be a pain area since the rib cage is supposed to keep this part of the spine stable. Sadly in recent years the number of cases like ours are coming forward and thankfully there are more options than just fusions.

    First of all I am going to recomend that you start a new thread since this is a very old thread and I am afradi you will get very little response to it. Hopefully you can answer some questions in the new thread telling us a little more about you (if you feel like it).

    Where are you located (generally) USA? Europe? etc...

    What kind of doctors have you seen? OrthoSurgeon that is fellowship trained in the spine? NeuroSurgeon specialinzing in Thoracic spinal recunstruction or Neurosuregon general spineal reconstruction, Genral Surgeon, Neurologist, Primary Care, etc etc

    There are many kinds of doctors- not all are any where near qualified to speak about thoracic spine issues.

    Have you looked at other treatments? Epidural teroid Injection/Blocks, Spinal Cord Stimulators, Tens Units, PainPumps, RFA, etc (more than what I have listed I am sure).

    I hate the pills to. Each month I go in for my meds as well.

    I look forward to getting to know you more. I am sorry it is on such bad terms. I will be looking for your new thread.

    Feel Better- Smile you made a new friend today >:D<


  • Hello Julie

    Sorry I has taken me so long to get back to you.
    I live in Tennessee. Thanks for all the advice.
    I haven't had the time to get back on here and read all the messages I've got. Maybe when work slows down
    I can read more about my problems. Thanks Again.

    Best Regards,

    Mark Gentry
  • TereniaTTerenia Posts: 1
    edited 02/18/2014 - 1:28 AM
    Hi All,
    Ooooof, do I feel your pain. I am scheduled for T10-12 surgery in March at xxxxx. They are expensive but fantastic. The way that I am currently dealing with the muscle spasms is as follows; Sears still carries the Longline bras that are like corsets. Just make sure to get the brand that has the hook and eye closures in the FRONT. Then I wear that over a tank top and stick 2 ThermaCare heat pads longitudinally in the back of the bra on each side of my vertebrae. It really helps. Hope this helps :)

    EDITED to remove the name of the medical institution
    18/2/14 Jellyhall

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 02/18/2014 - 1:31 AM
    I see this is your first post, so welcome to Spine Health.
    I have edited out the name of where you are going to have your surgery. That is because it is a rule that doctors or medical institutions names are not posted on Spine Health. 'You agree not to post specific physician names or health care facilities names on Spine-Health.com.'

    Here is a link to the rules of the forum.


    I hope that you will find this a useful place to learn about your condition and the surgery to deal with it.
    This forum is also a great place to be able to chat with others who are, or have been, suffering with spinal pain too. Coming to talk to others while in your recovery after the surgery is very supportive.

    Thoracic surgery is more rare and a difficult journey, but the pain that leads to surgery is tough too.
    I do have some thoracic heriated discs that cause me pain into my ribs and spasms especially if I try to twist, but I have not had surgery there. I have had a lumbar fusion and also a neck fusion though so I do understand the pre-surgery nerves!

    I hope that you will post a new thread of your own which should attract more attention that this post because this is an old thread made almost two years ago.

    Do ask any questions you may have and take a look at the useful items for after surgery at the top of the Back and Neck Surgery thread.


    Looking forward to getting to know you better. :-)

  • I do some exercises in the heated pool. I walk forwards, backwards and sideways, do some calf raises, squats, holding onto corner of pool and kicking etc. That routine was designed by an exercise physiologist.

    I have some exercises I do at home as well which were prescribed by a physical therapist.

    Have you seen a PT?
  • jamieleebeejjamieleebee Posts: 2
    edited 02/26/2014 - 7:36 AM
    I have really bad upper back pain right now. I'm currently sitting at my desk job, with a 7-up bottle of hot water presed against my ribcage. I wish I had one for my back, too. On the bright side, it blocks out the sciatic nerve pain in my left butock and thigh. Are these things something I should go to a chiropractor for? I've both thrown out my lower back, and had my lower back reset numerous times (It popped out of place about 12 times on Christmas about 4 years ago, gradually getting more painful each time. The chiropractors say since it pops into place so easy, it's going to pop out of place really easy), and that's been paining me for about 5 years now, but the lower back has gotten worse in the past 3 1/2 years. When I was 12, I fell down my front steps and hit my spine on the edge of the steps, and rotated 4 vertebrae in varying locations on my spine. Now I'm not positive, but that might have something to do with this upper back pain. Maybe my boobs are too big, maybe I have bad posture, or maybe I have some freaky disease. I'm 22 years old. I don't know, but I know an ample supply of hot water bottles and ibuprofen relieve it after a day or so. Someone tell me something I can do for this. Both the upper back pain and the sciatic pain together are driving me crazy.
  • tegettege Posts: 1
    edited 04/02/2014 - 5:19 PM
    I am 23, male and 6'1" . i have been pretty much a healthy person up until about 3 years ago. i have had several issues going on in my body that i'm not sure are related, but it all started with pain in my throat back 3 years ago. went to ENT after ENT, MRI's of throat, neck, Cat Scans, Endoscopy, steriod injections in my neck. found some minor disc degeneration in c-levels. But doctor said that is not causing my neck pain. . i have lived with this pain since. the one thing that was diagnoised is that i have acid reflex which i take Nexium for. nothing helps then about a year ago, i was working out in a gym and injured my upper back from lifting too heavy of weights. went to ER and had x-ray. everything clear. pain continued for weeks. went for PT for a month. no help. finally got an MRI of the Thoracic and nothing found. pain is in T-10 area on right side, i do sit in front of a computer for many hours in a day. i bought a very good chair that gives me good posture. i have done back stretches. i have gotten injections in the L5 level, i have gotten trigger point injections in the Thoracic..i tried about 5 or 6 sessions of acupuncture. nothing is helping. I have tried Nurotin, anti-inflammatories, Celebrex...and so many other meds. i am so tired of taking drugs. about 2 months ago, out of nowhere i began to become short of breath which caused me to feel like i have to cough,and do. no flem though. i thought it was a cold coming on or even pnemonia, but went to family doctor and he loaded me up with several medications and an inhaler to help me with my breathing. it was not a cold or virus. and i am still short of breath. i still have pain in my T-10 area and I still have throat pain. i have spent a ton of money in 3 years and no results and no relief. if anyone reads this and can give me any insight, i would so appreciate it. i am currently just going to a chiropractor and massage theraphy. not much improvement, but i've got to give it a try. i'm wondering if my shortness of breath has anything to do with my thoracic pain because the pain is right near my rib cage and wondering if something near my T10 area is pressing against rib cage causing shortness of breath. i just don't know since the shortness of breath just started 2 months ago and my back pain is almost a year old. so bummed about this, but trying to hold on to hope.
  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-spine-health-how-get-started

    I am including a couple of links that might help you figure out if the thoracic pain might be related. The first is called a dermatome map, which shows where each level of the spine innervates a specific area of the body. http://admin.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/dermatome-map

    Xrays are done to check for fracture and alignment of bones or to see if there may be tumors present but they aren't any good at deciphering if there is some nerve compression in an area of the spine.....A MRI or CT scan or both might be a better option.
    The second link that I am giving you is at the Step by Step Guide to Getting treatment for chronic back pain....it might be wise to see a surgeon to rule in or out any suspected areas of compression of the spine..... .http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step
  • My back pain is worst in the mid-back and it wraps around as well. I don't think there are any specific exercises for this, it is just a matter of trying to relieve the pain with the same techniques that one would use did the pain not wrap around. Meds, stretching, PT, injections, surgery etc. Since this is a new pain for you make sure you discuss it with your doctor.
  • elaineann52eelaineann52 Posts: 1
    edited 09/22/2015 - 10:35 PM
    hello ladies I have just found this site and read your comments, and I feel now that I am not going crazy.i have suffered this pain in my thorasic area for 30 years after having an accident at work. I tried to live without strong pain meds but now I cant hold off so I am on tramadol,and amitryptaline.i live in England ,and my doctors are not helping me at all I asked to go to the pain clinic and they keep refusing to let me go.i have a question for you all the radial pain you get in the front,ribs etc does it effect your digestion I feel that when the terrible cramping comes the muscles in my ribs area it makes it difficult to eat and digest, just wondered if anyone else gets this also is there a facebook page for this site? best wishes elaine

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