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Thread: Intercostal (Rib and chest wall) Pain?

  1. #1

    Intercostal (Rib and chest wall) Pain?

    Has anyone else experienced this? I've had tons of x-rays, CT scans etc and nothing is broken or fractured and isn't caused by shingles(can attack a rib). This only leaves the muscles in between being bruised or stretched. It is an intense, ongoing tenderness, gnawing and throbbing in the entire rib cage, front and back, top to bottom. My chest wall and sternum as well, making even breathing uncomfortable

    Ironically, it started before finding out I had gallstones. After my gallbladder removal, it was still there. They assured me it was the gas used to expand the area during surgery. It only worsened. Then she referred me gastroenterology thinking it must be my liver. Thank God, no. Pain Management tried an epidural nerve block with no relief. He is too scared to try applying nerve blocks to each rib due the proximity to lungs etc. I went down the path of strong narcotics scheduled until the hallucinations started and I could no longer stand sleeping all day considering they did nothing. He added morphine to my baclofen pump which has decreased the intensity and I no longer cry at least. This started in November and I've only been stuck in the bed from the pressure sore. Bedrest doesn't ease it either. I'm trying what stretches I can and have requested in home PT. A lot of what I read makes it seem to either be permanent or a 4 to 6 week ailment.

    Anyone experience this? The cause is unexplained.
    Last edited by quad79; 06-05-2016 at 01:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    Has anyone ever mentioned costochondritis to you? It's inflammation of the chest cartilage. I'm not qualified to diagnose, but I've got it and it can present as you described. I'm actually surprised no one suggested it. Supposedly it resolves in a few days, but mine is chronic. I've had it since before I got sick, over twenty five years ago. It flares up at times, but luckily I do have periods of less pain. We did test after test to rule out the worst issues, but always came back to costochondritis. Gas can make it worse and I have a lot of GI stuff, so it can be really rough when that's active, but mine, unfortunately, never completely disappears.

    Being in bed all day could aggravate it, if it's costochondritis. If morphine is needed for relief, that's out of the ordinary, but if you already have high pain it could make sense. I know it may sound silly, but have you tried arnica cream or gel? It's fairly inexpensive and it shouldn't hurt. Just do not apply to open wounds. Perhaps worth a try? I am sorry you're in such excruciating pain. 😞 I hope you figure this out. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Thanks for the input. In the beginning, I heard several conditions thrown out there. I didn't mention strained cartilage with the bruised muscles but that has also been mentioned. I also have many GI issues and omg does gas and needing to poop make it worse like you say. Naprosyn helps a little. It will ease sometimes with alternating heat and ice. Sometimes I can't stand it even with the morphine dispersing straight into my spinal cord! I only chose that option when suggested to avoid the oral route. I'm beginning to think this will be my forever enemy like yours has become.

    At its worst, do you also have a painful tugging in that side of your lower abdomen? I've had ultrasounds and the dr check that area during my partial hysterectomy. Nothing there.

    I'll try the Arnica gel and also want to try out Capsaicin as it is supposed to calm nerves beneath the skin. Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by quad79 View Post
    Thanks for the input. In the beginning, I heard several conditions thrown out there. I didn't mention strained cartilage with the bruised muscles but that has also been mentioned. I also have many GI issues and omg does gas and needing to poop make it worse like you say. Naprosyn helps a little. It will ease sometimes with alternating heat and ice. Sometimes I can't stand it even with the morphine dispersing straight into my spinal cord! I only chose that option when suggested to avoid the oral route. I'm beginning to think this will be my forever enemy like yours has become.

    At its worst, do you also have a painful tugging in that side of your lower abdomen? I've had ultrasounds and the dr check that area during my partial hysterectomy. Nothing there.

    I'll try the Arnica gel and also want to try out Capsaicin as it is supposed to calm nerves beneath the skin. Thanks!
    Yes. I do have pain in my lower abdomen during bad times. I've brought it up a few times over the years; I'm always told it's gas. So, for me when that happens, I push aside worry of worse issues, and I build on what I've been told. I surmise it's the costochondritis being aggravated by my GI stuff all of which, in my case, docs say there's not much else they can do to help.

    I started taking Mirilax this autumn which has helped immensely. At least I'm more regular now, but I still have my autonomic nervous dysfunction episodes kicked off by the overactive vasovagal response. My doc said there's nothing known that can help that. 😶😯 (This is something I hear a lot.&#128547

    Years age I began my "finding the best way to eat" journey. It brought me to where I am now: food allergies and sensitivities up the wazoo, basically vegan diet with necessary supplements, tablets for the electrolyte imbalance that kicks up during the GI stuff and menses...the list goes on, but if you haven't tried to find the best food for you with all your current issues, I highly recommend it. On the advice of my allergist, I did the elimination diet. It's hardest at first, but it's well worth it. I now know all the things I need to be wary of and what's safe. Plus, over the years, after healing my system some, I've been able to add some foods in again! 😁

    That all takes time, but three more quick recommendations then I'll stop: 1-make sure you are hydrating, 2-you may benefit from some extra, basic electrolytes, and 3-if you don't already take a probiotic, I suggest it. Anyone with GI stuff will most likely benefit. I personally like Renew Life, but there are loads to choose from these days. As for electrolytes, I drink the Original Nuun. I have electrolyte imbalance, especially during a vasovagal episode, and they help immensely. It's worth the extra money for ease and peace of mind.

    Good luck! It's so hard when you have bad pain that docs dismiss, especially when it doesn't go away. I hope you find some relief from one of these remedies. I like arnica best. Capsaicin didn't do anything for me, but everyone is different. Toprocin is another one you may like; I use it for my EM flares and neuropathic pain. It doesn't stop either, but it does lessen the pain a bit until meds kick in better, or when I've reached my med limit or I'm out. It is expensive. I have to buy the jar; it's the one I can access best. The others are tubes or lotion bottles. I really hope you find some relief soon. Please let me know if anything I suggested help. It's interesting to see what works for different people...I should have gone into medicine! 😄

  5. #5
    I've yet to come across someone who has symptoms like mine until you! It is refreshing although I don't wish them on anyone!

    My GI issues flared up 6 years ago. Due to a long period of nausea and vomiting along with hearing virtually no useful information, I started my own trial and era with foods. Finding my sensitivities and cutting them out greatly improved my life. Every now and then, I've tried to sneak foods back in only to regret it. Although, I was able to enjoy a steak after labs showed anemia. I almost feel like I'm going to have now weed through seasonings though as intense trapped gas is an issue as it feels my intestines are being tied in knots at times. I have regained sensation throughout my trunk so it's unbearable at times. Now this rib pain has made it harder to deal with. I thought my days of dysreflexia were over (hadn't had it since I started feeling) but the combo has sparked some pretty sweaty nights. Amitriptyline can help but it makes me but it knocks me out anymore. I have found some comfort with Bentyl. I do take Miralax daily as well. I'm going to give the Arnica a try. I don't trust prescriptions anymore and they sure don't mix well with GI issues. The morphine is only because I could add it to my baclofen pump. It has helped some. I don't cry as much and I think you questioned it before but ,yes I do have chronic pain elsewhere. Sorry you also know the struggle and thanks for your input.

    Have you also had to resort to rubbing your chest and upper belly to burp? It isn't a natural function these days. Many times I have to massage my entire belly to release it from the other end

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by quad79 View Post
    I've yet to come across someone who has symptoms like mine until you! It is refreshing although I don't wish them on anyone!

    My GI issues flared up 6 years ago. Due to a long period of nausea and vomiting along with hearing virtually no useful information, I started my own trial and era with foods. Finding my sensitivities and cutting them out greatly improved my life. Every now and then, I've tried to sneak foods back in only to regret it. Although, I was able to enjoy a steak after labs showed anemia. I almost feel like I'm going to have now weed through seasonings though as intense trapped gas is an issue as it feels my intestines are being tied in knots at times. I have regained sensation throughout my trunk so it's unbearable at times. Now this rib pain has made it harder to deal with. I thought my days of dysreflexia were over (hadn't had it since I started feeling) but the combo has sparked some pretty sweaty nights. Amitriptyline can help but it makes me but it knocks me out anymore. I have found some comfort with Bentyl. I do take Miralax daily as well. I'm going to give the Arnica a try. I don't trust prescriptions anymore and they sure don't mix well with GI issues. The morphine is only because I could add it to my baclofen pump. It has helped some. I don't cry as much and I think you questioned it before but ,yes I do have chronic pain elsewhere. Sorry you also know the struggle and thanks for your input.

    Have you also had to resort to rubbing your chest and upper belly to burp? It isn't a natural function these days. Many times I have to massage my entire belly to release it from the other end
    It feels good to connect with someone who gets it! Though of course, I am sorry you have to go through this too. I used to have to massage my belly from gas. I would do mini crunch movements in bed too. It was painful. Drinking San Pellegrino helps me with gas a lot. My gas isn't nearly as painful and trapped now. I also eat a vegan diet, mainly well cooked frozen veg, low oil because too much doesn't stay down, and I supplement with fresh fruit and sometimes salad as tolerated. It's a daily balancing act and I don't always get it right.

    I cannot eat grains at all or dairy; I have horrible reactions to both, intolerance that kicks up my autonomic dysfunction: shaking, profuse sweating and weakness, then BAD gas followed by expelling from both ends simultaneously. Not pleasant to say the least. Since the dietary changes, my gas acts up mainly around my cycle or if I try to add spices. Though I have successfully been able to incorporate a few without problems. I took it slow and steady. The probiotics helped me too. In my experience, they really heal the gut. If you don't take them already, I recommend looking into it.

  7. #7
    that is where all my sci pain is? across my chest and under arms mainly. you may have a pinching nerve? you need an mri of your spine.

  8. #8
    from nipple line down and the more I do the more it burns. tortures me to the point of insanity everyday. didn't sleep well. bad mood

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by stevegalliazzo View Post
    that is where all my sci pain is? across my chest and under arms mainly. you may have a pinching nerve? you need an mri of your spine.
    I'm not sure yours is the same. I've had scans with no pinched nerves. Somehow the muscles in between the ribs get strained and the pain which is different than nerve pain. Mine is full on muscular skeletal. Good luck with yours.

    Yours sounds like what I still have as well from years ago that is nerve pain referral to as "the band of fire" or " MS hug" as MS sufferers have it too. It burns and also feels like a constricting hug around the chest.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur Wheelz View Post
    It feels good to connect with someone who gets it! Though of course, I am sorry you have to go through this too. I used to have to massage my belly from gas. I would do mini crunch movements in bed too. It was painful. Drinking San Pellegrino helps me with gas a lot. My gas isn't nearly as painful and trapped now. I also eat a vegan diet, mainly well cooked frozen veg, low oil because too much doesn't stay down, and I supplement with fresh fruit and sometimes salad as tolerated. It's a daily balancing act and I don't always get it right.

    I cannot eat grains at all or dairy; I have horrible reactions to both, intolerance that kicks up my autonomic dysfunction: shaking, profuse sweating and weakness, then BAD gas followed by expelling from both ends simultaneously. Not pleasant to say the least. Since the dietary changes, my gas acts up mainly around my cycle or if I try to add spices. Though I have successfully been able to incorporate a few without problems. I took it slow and steady. The probiotics helped me too. In my experience, they really heal the gut. If you don't take them already, I recommend looking into it.
    I wrote a long reply of success and other stuff only to lose it. I'll try over again soon. Grr

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