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

SherrySSherry Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:47 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.
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  • 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<
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  • 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. :-)
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