Medical Specialty >> Pulmonology

Doctors Lounge - Pulmonology Answers

Back to Pulmonology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Can't Breath While Leaning Forward

 marytmary - Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:12 am

My name is Mary and I am a 33F. I was struck by an SUV while walking about 30 months ago. The back of the SUV hit me in the front, upper torso while I tried to protect myself with my hands. First symptoms were sore ribs, bump on back of head. X-ray came back ok. Chiro treatements not effective. Orthopedist who saw me for 10 seconds sent me to physical therapy. PT noted poor posture, shoulders raised, possible right rotator cuff injury. Popping sound and immobility in right shoulder, especially lifting right are straight over head. Left and right trapezius are excruciatingly sore. Slightly hardened muscle tissue in right side of neck and throat area. Breathing problems arose and this is why I am posting in this category. I saw a general MD to test lungs and heart. Lungs clear and heart good. Went back to orthopedist for 5 second visit. Provided sonogram of shoulder. Still waiting for result. Current symptoms causing me most alarm: pressure while breathing, difficulty breathing, shallow breath while leaning forward, standing, sitting upright, rotating shoulders forward and laying on side. Cardio activity fine. Breath normal while reclining or laying flat. Pain in neck and throat, right side. Trapezius muscles, muscles separating shoulder from spine, rotator cuff, all areas around clavicle, sternum, and between upper center ribs on both sides are all sore. New lump - bone cartilege between the ribs that are three inches north of belly button and slightly to right, possibly dislocated? Maybe the xyphoid process? Would appear to be the xyphoid process if it was always there, was never poking out so profusely, nor was it favoring the right side. The bone-cartilege area was an inch in diameter, connects center upper ribs near diaphragm, is tender to touch, possibly swollen and all ribs connected to it are blindingly sore. Maybe the diaphragm? Otherwise in good health, heart, lungs, blood pressure, no cough (although sometimes I have to clear my throat). I had an AVM removed successfully 5 years ago. Doubt it has any relevance but i do have titanium in the right rear skull if it matters.

God bless you if you have any clue what is wrong with me. My deep breaths hurt somewhere in upper chest throat while leaning forward and it is scaring the heck out of me. I have seen a neurologist, internist, chiro, orthopedist, PT, had x-rays and have been sent home with no help yet.

Thank you so much for reading and any guidance
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Oct 06, 2007 1:21 pm

User avatar Hi Marytmary,

Your description of the pain while breathing only in some positions makes me think that the issue is not with the lungs, as your general doctor has suggested. I suspect that what is happening is that when you lean forward you are putting more pressure on an area (be it a muscle, bone fracture or other problem related to the trauma) that is painful. When you breath in these positions it is likely causing these areas to either move more or be pressed on more causing the pain.

You may need to have some further imaging studies such as an MRI of the chest and neck to see if there is any ongoing muscle or bone problems. A CT scan may suffice also. I would recommend you continue to follow up with your doctor and orthopedist regarding this.

If you feel that issues are being missed it is always reasonable to seek a second opinion. Most physicians would not be offended by this as it is often helpful to have a fresh, outside evaluation of the issues to identify new ideas.

Best wishes.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us