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Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Sudden back and rib pain


 4PtSake - Mon Dec 25, 2006 5:40 am

Hello and Merry Christmas.
Thank you for taking time to offer this service...it is greatly appreciated.
I am a 45 year old female with a history of degenerative disc disease in my lumbar and cervical spine, osteoarthritis in both hips, etc. I am currently taking Lexapro for depression and various OTC meds such as fish oil, glucosamin/chondroitin (sp?), and calcium.
Several months ago I was simply walking down a hallway and suddenly had extreme sharp pain in my spine (a little above the base of my shoulder blades) and a few minutes later it spread to the ribs at about the same level on the right side. It hurt a great deal to take a deep breath or move too much for a couple hours, after which it eased slowly and turned into a dull ache for several more days.
What are the most likely causes of this kind of pain?
I have never been tested for osteoperosis and was wondering if it could be a spine fracture or if it is more likely to be related to the degenerative issues...or neither one for that matter. I realize without an exam you can't say for sure but am looking for possible leads to information I can look up and discuss with my new doctor...unfortunately, due to the holidays I won't be able to see her for several more weeks and thought I'd put the time to good use.
Thank you again for taking time to answer questions and have a wonderful holiday!
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:18 pm

User avatar Hello,

It sounds like muscle spasm is the cause of your symptoms.

The back has a group of muscles that enable us to stand erect.
These muscles are attached to the ribs, being in spasm make the breathing difficult or painful.

Muscle spasm can also occur due overexertion of the chest wall muscles to maintain the chest in certain position to avoid pain of skeletal disorders like costochondritis or spinal problems, like disc problems as in your case.

Muscle spasm in many indiviuals is the result of inappropriate posture for long time like traveling, driving, carrying heavy objects, and certain types of work.

Self care and avoiding the precipitating cause will lead to a gradual but clear improvement in the pain.

If the pain is recurrent and is not relieved by conservative measures and analgesics, nerve compression due to disc prolapse should be excluded.

Direct clinical examination is essential.
I advise you to follow up with your doctor.
Keep us updated.
Best regards.

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