For most of us chest pain is
pretty serious stuff, and indeed it may be a prime indicator of
a disease process that is best rapidly identified and dealt with.
However most chest pain may not be immediate “serious stuff” but many of us in our panic and knee
jerk reactions to pain, spend a lot of time and money in the wrong office
getting a wait-and-see diagnosis. Then after an arduous course
of EKG’s, x-rays, physical exams and a plethora of other avenues of
investigation, “just to make sure” we are left alone to wait and
OK, well and good. For
40% of us the first symptom of a heart attack is
For the other 60% there may or may not even be any chest pain.
So if you get over the obstacles
in the doctor’s office and comply with all the tests and referrals,
and the chest pain persists, especially for more than several days,
what do you do about it now?
Drugs of course are the treatment
of choice for most of us. Drugs to stupefy us and knock out the
awareness of pain are sold daily by the boxcar loads.
We have pains. Most of
us constantly, especially as we age.
But most chest pain isn’t
a heart or lung or other organ problem at all. Most chest pain
is due to physiologic bone and muscle pain.
Because most of us aren’t
armed with information about our anatomical or functional nature, about
what we are and how we work, we make the call and the visit to the Doctor’s
office. The mystique of what cannot be seen, what is “in the
dark,” our pain, needs to be enlightened. So we go to the Doctor
to “shed a little light” on our problem, we see this as the
thing to do.
But the busy Doctor may not
know about the physiology of your chest wall either. He may be
a well educated man but if his professors didn’t think outside of
the pale then he may not have the armament to deal with our concerns,
our unique chest pain. He may just let us go and live with it
Not good enough. Chest
pain is telling us something and it should be interpreted and solved.
Again, most chest pain is from
a musculoskeletal origin. Muscles and bones are designed to function
in a very precise and peculiar manner. When they cannot fulfill
that function, when they cannot express their abilities to be healthy
and do their work, we often feel the result of the restrictions as pain.
Think of our chest wall like
this with me. Think of a bell jar, remember them from high school
labs? A bell jar, the chest wall, is placed over the heart, aorta,
the lungs and the esophagus. Then the bottom of the jar is sealed
with a complex muscle sheet called the diaphragm. The walls of
the chest are lashed together with muscles running from the spine to
the ribs and the ribs to themselves. These muscles are called
intercostals, pectorals, deltoids, and serratus to name a few.
Our job with the chest wall
is that of breathing. But even as important, is another
job, that of making a strong stable base for us to do work from.
Healthy bodies do work.
By design inside our chest
we have five bladders we call lungs. When we wish to do work with
our arms, neck and trunk we may inhale deeply, close our mouth and larynx,
hold the air in and bear down to create a greater pressure inside than
that of the environment around us. This action stiffens the bell
and allows a platform for our extensions such as the arms and neck to
have a secure base to perform work from.
Sounds simple enough doesn’t
it. And it is for most of us so long as all of the parts are contributing
to this essential function as their design intended.
But many of us alter the original
design. Then when we attempt to do our work we may feel the result
of a slight incorrect shifting of the parts and the subsequent binding
and jamming of the joints and the strain, the pain.
There are 24 ribs, twelve on
each side (male and female are the same). The ribs originate from the
twelve thoracic vertebral bodies and their discs. The ribs then
reach around and down to the front of our chest to join up to the edge
of a cartilage plate. The plate then joins an edge of a flat bone
on the very front of our chest, the sternum. The seams from the
ribs as they join the edges of the cartilage plate and the plate to
the edge of the flat bone are prone to respond to shifts in position
and may become very painful if the ribs are stressed as they reach around
the wall from the spine.
The ribs of our body
have a multitude of connective joints that allow them to move as we
exhale and inhale and splint our chest walls to do work. In fact
in our mid back we have about 100 joints enhancing the movement of the
ribs and their thoracic vertebrae.
Ideally these 100 joints would
always be exact in their positions and in their range of motion (ROM).
However our bell jar chest cage is not unlike a wicker basket with its
vertebrae, ribs and flat front cartilage and bones.
Now imagine that we take the
wicker basket and twist and distort it’s symmetry. Imagine the
forces that are applied to the “parts” as they join to form our
chest at the front, run along our sides and at the joints in the back.
Suppose in our zeal to get
“healthy” we recently picked up some small weights and tossed them
around allowing the arms and the shoulder holding muscles to pull sharply
on the ribs, where they originate, causing the rib joints to
(see earlier columns)
Perhaps an accident, in the
car or a fall or a strain from reaching, pulling, pushing or carrying
something, may have stressed and distorted the cage.
Many times a much earlier strain
of the chest wall is later compounded by a seemingly insignificant event
but added together they pull the ribs from their joints and produce,
you guessed it, chest pain.
Left alone the compromised
chest wall often leads to shoulder, neck and arm pain along with limb
weakness and loss of function. Even hand pain may ensue.
Left alone the compromised
chest wall reduces our capacity to meet our work potential showing as
pains within our shoulders, limbs and neck.
Over time we may heal the parts
to the point of compromise with little pain but we become a time bomb
waiting for any small incident to re-create our chest pain symptoms.
How do we deal with our acute
and our chronic chest pains? Consult your chiropractor.
For his education does not fall beyond the pale. Chiropractors
are thoroughly instructed on “how and why we do as we do.”
Only the chiropractor can assess and then correct, with high velocity
low impact specific spinal and rib adjustments, our subluxation complexes (mis-alignments)
that often cause chest pain.
About the author:
Dr. Brian Blower has been a licensed chiropractor for 35 years
practicing Applied Kinesiology and has been in private practice on
Grand Bahama Island for the past
10 years. He is a founding member of Applied Kinesiology Canada and was
educated at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. He has treated
many celebrities and also specializes in sports medicine. Dr Blower is
currently in practice at the
Center across from the Rand Hospital, Freeport. He can be reached at 242-351-5424 or 727-2454.
can also find Dr. Blower on Facebook HERE
Feel free to contact Dr. Blower with any of your questions or comments at BodyByBlower@yahoo.com