I Have Excruciating Back Pain When I Breathe in Nepean ON

I Have Excruciating Back Pain When I Breathe in Nepean

I Have Excruciating Back Pain When I Breathe

(And why is this happening?!)

Dr. Surbjit Herr, B.Sc., D.C

At least a few times a week I will get a call or a patient comes in and says "I don't know what I did! I was fine and then suddenly I'm getting excruciating back pain, especially when I breathe."

The patient will point to an exact spot on the middle of their back and say it feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife. I've also heard people say that it feels like a pinch in my back or I'm getting back spasms.

Most of these cases can be due to rib problems in Nepean. There is a joint where the rib connects to your spine. People that have had this before will say they have a rib out of place. The rib loses its proper position up against the spine.

Rib pain is interesting because it can happen out of the blue. You may be working at your desk, grabbing something and twisting or turning too fast, waking up with it or lifting weights too heavy or not using good form.

Rib pain can be caused by structural shifts and can cause extreme amounts of pain or sometimes just a lingering annoying sensation.

WHY DOES IT HURT SO BAD? Ask your Nepean chiropractor

The thing that is puzzling about pain from the rib is how intense and it can be excruciating for such a mild issue. It's not like a herniated disc where you can have serious effects that result in debilitating pain and loss of function in the arm and hand.

The biggest reason it's so sensitive and produces an enormous amount of pain is because of the high density of pain-generating tissues in the area. What does that mean? The rib /spinal joint has lots of tissues and many of these tissues are highly sensitive.

When you look at this picture of the rib and spinal vertebrae, you see the ligaments. These ligaments connect the spine and the rib but they also house many nociceptors. Nociceptors are known as pain fibers, but what they actually do is sense changes in structure and send signals to the brain to relay the changes.

So, they don't send pain signals but send signals to let your brain know something is not quite right. The rib spinal joint has some movement but not very much and if the joint is not in the proper position, the tension on the ligaments or friction between the joint surfaces will send fast pain responses to the brain.

Your brain and nervous system then process this info and respond accordingly. The brain tries to brace the area by the muscles tightening up to prevent further injury and pain. So now with increased muscle tension, this may affect your mobility, nerves, and other tissues creating even more pain and discomfort.


Every time you breathe, your ribs move. They have to go up and down during the breathing process. Because breathing is a pretty important requirement for life. the more the ribs move the more it can aggravate the joint and rib area. Dr. Surbjit Herr, B.Sc., D.C.


Usually, the pain can settle on its' own within a few days. The body can release muscle tension and spasm. If it lasts longer, then some help may be required.

Most chiropractors can check to see if it is a rib problem and with an adjustment to the thoracic spine or ribs, you can get some relief. Some structural corrective exercises and a few visits can usually clear it up.

But, if you were like me when I was a student - hours of sitting in class and then lifting heavy weights at the gym (and probably sacrificing good form) this can become a reoccurring issue, as it was for me. It developed into some chronic issues for me where my classmates knew I had rib pain because it took me turning my whole body to speak to the person behind me in class.

I finally started to get long-term relief when I started structural chiropractic and started working on my Anterior Head Syndrome. I noticed that once my spine was closer to that normal ideal, I was getting less rib pain and that my spine maintained itself for months at a time instead of days at a time. I believe that the constant strain sitting at a desk with my headway ahead of my shoulders created tension on my spine and muscles leading to imbalances and rib pain.

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Capital Chiropractic

2210 Prince of Wales Drive, Suite 501
Nepean, ON K2E 6Z9

(613) 695-4377