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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: left sided thoracic pain

 jenny2 - Sun Feb 12, 2006 4:45 pm

I am a 32 year old mother of a 2 and 4 year old. A few months ago, after awakening (sleeping on my left shoulder), I felt some pain in my back and chest when bending my neck. The chiropractor said my ribs were out of alignment and I have been having adjustments for the past 3 months. Most of the rib pain is gone, and now I only feel it if I bend my neck forward while dropping my left shoulder. For the past week, I have been experiencing intermitent burning or tightening like pain on my left side of the back in the thoracic area. I don't know if it is a spasm or a cramp, but it does come and go throughout the day. It is generally relieved when I sit or lay down. I went ot my PCP and he gave my lower back exercises to do (but its not my lower back). He also suggested massage, which I did yesterday and now it is much worse and the shoulder area discomfort seems to be back as well. I did notice the back pain the morning after I had been bending over cutting out fabric and also doing some neck exercise. I have no past diagnoses of back or spine problems.
My question is
1) How long should a "muscular" injury last- also when palpating the muscles in that area, they are not tender therefore I am wondering if it is muscular)
2) Is there a possibility this could be an issue with my spine
3)How long should I tolerate the discomfort before wanting further evaluation and who do I see then?
Thanks for your help!!
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:36 am

User avatar Dear jenny2,

In most of the cases with back pain, strain of the back muscles and ligaments, is the primary cause. This usually results from wrong or heavy lifting, or following a sudden improper movement.

Muscle spasm alone can cause this pain which can be an unidentified cause but in many cases is the result of an inappropriate posture for long time like travelings, driving and certain types of work.
In these cases, self care and avoiding the precipitating cause will lead to a gradual but clear improvement in the pain. Home treatment includes the use of analgesics, cold or hot therapy.

Rest for maximum two days is also beneficial. If these measures fail to relief the pain or to improve symptoms in 48 hours, otherwise the pain is more likely to be due to other causes, like:
- Herniated disk, in which the inter-vertebral disc press on his nerves,
- Spondylosis which is similar to arthritis but affects the spine etc.
Thoracic outelet syndrome should be excluded also, although your symptoms are not typical but your other posts suggested similar clinical picture.

MRI is of choice in the diagnosis.
These are conditions that need specific therapy.

Follow up with your doctor is essential. Only by complete history and physical examination, the correct diagnosis can be reached.

Hope you find this information useful.
Best regards,

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