essential-osteopathy-logo.png
Instagram.jpeg
facebook.jpeg

Mid back, chest & rib pain

Mid back, chest and rib pain can be alarming but is most often caused by poor posture, for example, from working at a laptop or a computer for prolonged periods. It is often linked to reduced movement of the thoracic spine (back) and the ribs as they are then unable to freely move. This can sometimes create a cracking noise – nothing to worry about however it often indicates that the area is restrictive and tight and needs treating. Occasionally, there can be spasming of the intercostal muscles between the ribs which can create pain all around the side of the ribcage or chest.

 

Mid back pain can also be associated with what we call 'viscero-somatic' pain. Firstly, to explain the difference between somatic and visceral pain:

  • Somatic pain – is caused by the stimulation of pain receptors in the musculo-skeletal tissues of the body. It is usually described as dull or aching and is commonly related to chronic abnormalities such as inflammation, repetitive trauma, excessive activity, vigorous stretching and contractions due to inactivity and misuse. It is usually aggravated by activity and relieved by rest.
  • Visceral pain – is the pain felt when our internal organs are injured or damaged. Viscera refers to the internal areas of the body enclosed in a cavity (essentially they are the organs of the body). Visceral pain occurs when certain receptors in these organs activate a pain response. Usually the pain is not very focal and is 'pressure-like', deep squeezing, dull or diffuse and results from distension, perforation, inflammation and constipation. Associated symptoms can include nausea, fever and malaise.

With respect to the visceral pain, what can happen is that it can 'refer' pain to otherwise normal parts of the soma (musculo-skeletal tissues) as the brain gets confused as to where the pain is coming from. This explains why you can get mid-back pain from an underlying intestinal or stomach problem or, indeed, jaw and shoulder pain when you are having problems with your heart.

Specifically, the reason for this 'referral' of visceral pain is the lack of dedicated sensory pathways in the brain for information concerning the internal organs. The sensory neurons or nerves that take information from the viscera (internal organs) converge with the sensory neurons which take information from the soma within the brain. The brain then interprets the signals originating from the viscera as coming from the muscles and skin. This is known as a viscero-somatic reflex.

The reason this is of interest to the Osteopath is because it is important to differentiate between true musculo-skeletal pain and viscero-somatic pain. In the case of a patient presenting with viscero-somatic pain, it is key to refer the patient to the appropriate healthcare professional to have the underlying viscera (internal organ) examined and treated. Only once this is achieved will the patient recover adequately and the musculo-skeletal pain reduce or disappear.

Whether the pain is musculo-skeletal or viscero-somatic Osteopathic treatment can help to ease the symptoms using a combination of soft-tissue treatment and joint articulation, manipulation and stretching. Acupuncture and cranial osteopathic treatments may also be used as appropriate with exercises and advice given at the end of the treatment(s).

 

NB: Patients with a fever, breathing difficulties or a severe cough with frontal chest pain should consult their GP

Essential Osteopathy Blog

Blog Categories

Back Pain (13 Articles)

August 15, 2018

Upper Body (12 Articles)

September 9, 2018

Lower Body (11 Articles)

September 9, 2018

Pregnancy & Babies (8 Articles)

September 9, 2018

Sports Injuries (8 Articles)

September 9, 2018

Arthritis (2 Articles)

May 4, 2018

Clinic matters - gift vouchers and more (9 Articles)

September 13, 2017

Advice - exercise, stretching, workstation set up and more (10 Articles)

September 13, 2018

Other conditions treated by Osteopaths (9 Articles)

September 13, 2018

Pain (4 Articles)

September 13, 2018

Osteopathy - information on treatments, principles and more (6 Articles)

September 13, 2017

Chronic pain (1 Articles)

September 13, 2018

Movement (2 Articles)

September 13, 2018

What is the difference between Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists?

February 24, 2020

The Essential Osteopathy YouTube channel

February 24, 2020

Iliotibial Band Syndrome / Runner's knee

February 24, 2020

Osteoarthritis - Self-care and Osteopathy

February 24, 2020

Back pain - Causes and what you can do about it

February 24, 2020

Coronavirus - Essential Osteopathy Clinic update

March 17, 2020

Essential Osteopathy - Temporary Clinic closure

March 24, 2020

Essential Osteopathy - Virtual appointments

April 9, 2020

COVID Clinic Changes

June 15, 2020

Essential Osteopathy re-opens for face to face appointments

June 26, 2020

Christmas & New Year availability / Gift vouchers

December 9, 2020

Follow up appointment (30 min) changes

January 6, 2021

Exercise therapy in the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis (NCOR Snapshot Summary)

January 13, 2021

Tendinopathies

January 13, 2021

Back pain: Prevention is better than cure

January 13, 2021

Cranial Osteopathy: Treatment of babies with colic, reflux and other issues

January 13, 2021

All Content Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved