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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Okay, so for a month and a half or so I've been having stabbing pain between my shoulder blades every morning. On a scale where 0 is no pain and 10 is throwing up and losing bowel control from the pain, this was about an 8. Neither my LMT nor my family physician had any idea what it could be, so I promptly googled to see about possible causes and found several very long threads worth of people going "oh my god, you too?! yeah, my doctors don't know what the hell it is either!" which was, needless to say, a bit depressing. It wasn't acting like a slipped disc or bone spur at all, no tenderness on the spine anywhere, and not like a pinched nerve either; we were all stumped. And, in my case, in increasingly intense pain.

Having spent a solid two weeks sleuthing through physiology with my LMT, I can report at least one cause of this kind of pain: my ribs were misaligned and locked up, and referring the pain up related back muscles. Causes and treatment reported below, for the benefit of posterity and the next poor sucker wondering why they're in agonizing upper back pain after lying still for several hours.

Best guess is that the ribs got mis-aligned, the left-hand costovertebral joints buckling down a bit while my LMT attempted to correct a persistent left-rotation in my thoracic spine (oh the irony), and all the intercostal and iliocostalis and mutiphedus muscles just got more and more overstressed as I tried to breathe fully and couldn't. But, and this is the kicker, I could still breathe enough for day to day despite the bottom lobes of my lungs being cramped, and during the day I moved around enough to keep the muscles from seizing painfully. They were still cramping and locking up, just not in a way that was actively agonizing as long as I was upright and moving. It wasn't until I laid down--on my side, in my case, which aggravated the problem on the side that was down--and was still for four or six hours at a stretch that everything settled into one position and bound up there. So the instant I moved upon waking from, say, my second round of deep sleep or so, everything spasmed agonizingly as every muscle pulled on every other muscle, eventually terminating right between the shoulders in a perfect storm of muscles going AAAAAAAAAUGH!

After a few tries, treating the back muscles themselves, I finally insisted on trying the ribs. I had observed that they did seem stiffer than usual, and thought that might be the root of the problem. Sure enough, my LMT found that all the intercostal muscles were like rock, except way more painful, and worked on releasing the left side, since that seemed to be in the worst shape. She sent me home to float in warm water for a while, and that night the pain was indeed reduced! There was great rejoicing! And I found that rubbing a hand firmly inward over the front of my left ribs (start at the outside and press in/down) made things go "proing! ssstreetch, sproing!" in my back on the left side (the costovertabral joint slipping back into proper place). So, the next day, I did quite a bit of that, fairly forcefully, and spent a good bit of time with a heat pad against my back. And that night, lo there was no pain on the left!

There was much rejoicing, and possibly some tears of hysterical relief, and I went back to get the right intercostal muscles released also.

So, the ideal solution is probably massage for neuro-muscular release along the ribs and back, followed by promptly seeing an osteopath who can manipulate the ribs in a more scientific manner than one can manage on oneself. Heat pads and hot baths seem to help with the inevitable "ow, fuck, ow" of muscles releasing and stretching and re-settling.

But if you don't have access to suitable specialists: lay your palms flat along the front of your ribs to see if they're crooked. If this is the source of your problem, one or both sides really will be notably canted up and out. Once you've warmed everything up with a day of hot baths and heat pads on low, lie down on your back, place your hand flat on the "up" side, put the other hand over it to increase your leverage, and press in toward the center of your body and down. Firmly. If this is what's really wrong, your ribs will feel very hard and won't want to move at all, and doing this will likely cause a bit of bruising before it really takes and stays. Do this as often as you think of it over the course of the day (you can also do it sitting up, as long as you have something solid to lean back on). Keep it up until your ribs move springily instead of being rock solid. Your back will probably ache, low on one side, where those rib muscles feed in to the diaphragm and spine. More heat pad helps, as does large arm movements.

Again, if this is the problem, then once your ribs are moving springily, and you can inhale all the way again, you're likely to get a bit of a head-rush from the increase in oxygen. Enjoy it.

For me, it took a couple days of maintenance-pushing at my ribs to get everything back where it's supposed to be and moving regularly, even after sleeping, but by god it worked. Good luck to any fellow sufferers who stop by this post!

Date: 2015-08-09 04:55 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: me, in the woods (enchanted woods)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Also probably any poor sucker who is here because they also are suffering this probably already knows this from their research, but just in case: an osteopath in the US will be a physician practicing under a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) -- they have all the powers of an MD but were also trained in the spinal manipulation (which most M.D.s are not). I believe elsewhere in the world, osteopathy is more of a separate paramedical speciality, although I could be mistaken!

But more to the point, I will note that failing access to an osteopath, a competent chiropractor should also be able to do these kind of manipulations.

Of course, a competent chiropractor who is not also crazypants can be incredibly difficult to come by. (I quite luckily have one, and even then he has his occasional moments that make me eyeroll. Chiropractic school tends to stuff their heads full of a bunch of all other manner of nonsense as well, sadly. :/)

Date: 2015-08-10 02:23 am (UTC)
umadoshi: (sleeping on a book)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
YIKES. I'm glad you were able to clear it up!

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