Monday, September 7, 2009

Costochondritis- Q & A

Okay, here are some great questions on a forum I'm a part of...insert sassy, adorable, authoratative voice here "please use your own discretion and consult your doctor for all your medical questions." =)

Medical Massage Therapist:


Could you please talk a little more about what type of therapy
the therapist does? You mentioned massage therapy, and I
know when I've tried that in the past, I could not tolerate it
at all, and I got terribly ill for days after with what seemed like
a horrible flu. Does the therapist massage the front of your
ribcage? That might be a little difficult, I would imagine, but
I do remember thinking quite often "if I could get these
muscles to release throughout my ribcage, esp. under the
breast area...the thought of it though just makes me cringe.

You are SO SO SO right! Before I found my medical massage therapist, when I went to nor
mal massage therapists, I would walk out in SOOOO much pain. Laying on my stomach was YIKES, OUCH, and oh CRAP THAT HURTS! So laying on my stomach with someone pushing into my back would leave me bed ridden for days afterward in pain.

However, my back was killing me, so I found this medical massage therapist who works at my physical therapists office. And for 2 months, I did massage
s sitting in a chair (on my back only), much more comfortable and less painful. I wouldn't let her put me on the table. But I got little relief from it in terms of the Costo and the back relief was very temporary. My therapist asked me for 8 weeks if she could please work on the Costo. I was like "over my dead body, chick-a-dee." =)

Then one day she looked at me and was like, "I've had Costo before, please let me work on your ribs"...after a shocking minute, I said, "okay, 10 minutes." So this is what the first session looked like:

1) Lay on back

2) Therapist VERY lightly would lay her finger on the tender spots in between my ribs(at the sternum around the 7th rib) and stay there for about 2-3 minutes until she felt the sore spot lightly release. She would work her way outward to the sides. She started on the left side of my rib cage and then moved over on the right side. I was so tender, the pressure she used was equivalent to a light touch to the lips and I still screamed and she was like "breathe woman!." However, when I left that day, my chest was opened up a little and I wasn't in more pain when I left than when we started like I normally was with a message therapists. It shocked me.

For the next 8 weeks, that was our drill. VERY light (penny on your stomach) pressure, me laying on my back. As we continued the therapy, my chest muscles started opening up and every week I could take a little more pressure and breathe a little deeper. Melissa (my therapist) said she was literally pushing out the inflammation and opening up the chest muscles.

Starting on the ninth week, I could take more and more pressure as she got deeper and deeper into the inflammation. It's a light talking session. Her constantly asking how the spots feels and me answering. I had no idea until I started the therapy that there were pockets of inflammation ALL OVER my ribs, not just where it hurt like crapola to breathe. And my BACK started to feel better!! That rocked.

After 8 weeks, we would do part of the therapy laying on each side. She would start the light pressure with one hand at my sternum on rib 7 and with one hand and on my back on the same rib on my spine and work her way together with her hands until they met in the middle. ....always following along the same rib.

Currently, out we start on each side and then I lay on my back and she does repetitive strokes starting at the sternum in between the ribs and working her way out again. She also stretches the rib cage, diaphragm, and neck muscles. And she has me doing the stretch every day where you stand in the doorway and step through to stretch the chest muscles (do the stretch with your hand near your shoulders and then again, only with the hands higher up on the door frame).

I've been going for 3 1/2 months...Melissa feels my pain will resolve in about 6 more months...we shall see. That would a miracle. =) My results so far are that I can breathe soooo much better, which I'm so excited about. After everything I've tried, I'm staying with this since I'm seeing results.

Anyhoo, so that's the dealio. It's been a huge blessing to me. My back is almost pain free. Pretty Cool. =) I know that was really long winded. Hope it helps. =) Oh- and I didn't really see progress until I married the therapy with no talking. Yup, the cruddy no talking policy. But it helped me. The less irritating we can be to our ribs, the better.

How do you go about finding the right medical massage therapist?
I'd call around to the physical therapist offices in your area and ask if they have a massage therapist who deals with chronic illnesses or costochondritis. If you can't find one, then start calling the massage therapists and see if you can find someone who has worked on Costo.

Did you ask about if they had experience helping people with costco?
Definitely. If they aren't familiar with the condition or willing to do the research on the condition, then run! =)
If you find someone you think would be a fit but hasn't worked on Costo., I'd meet with whomever you choose and basically interview them first, and print out info on Costo. Also, print out my previous post on how the massage is done by my therapist and take with you and talk to her/him.

FYI: If they ask you to start the massage laying on your stomach...bolt out of there, they don't know what's going on and you'll walk out in a lot of pain.

Is the type of massage different?
The biggest difference for me is that even though we work a lot on the chest, neck and back muscles, we spend most of the time working on the cartilage inbetween the ribs, gently pushing the inflammation from the sternum to the lymph nodes, then from the spine to the lymph nodes under the arm- and stopping a LOT when we land on a spot that is tender to keep the light pressure on the spot and once it releases a little bit, she continues working her way out. It's a very slow process. Since the ribs have such a low blood flow, massage can help get blood flowing and circulating in your ribs...and that is a beautiful thing.


And I believe it was Lucy who said the Intercostal blocks weren't beneficial for her

because she's had costo over 2 years (?). I suppose since I've had costo
for decades (over 3) that doing this then would probably not help, is that
what you're saying Lucy?

I think it's different for everyone. Unfortunately for me, my Costo wasn't diagnosed until 2 years later. I'm currently going on 3 yrs right there with you. Ick!! Had mine been diagnosed off the bat, I personally think the intercostal shots would have really worked. However, I was a personal trainer at the time, and still searching for a diagnosis, I continued lifting weights. The WORST thing I could have done! AHHH!! So my pain got worse and worse and I got desperate. Now I can't lift a pen without pain. You know how that goes. (However, I can breathe deep without pain, now. Yay!) So I think I contributed to my inflammation greatly over those 2 years. But for those who haven't exasperated the pain, shots may be a wonderful tool through the journey of healing. Some speculate they only mask the symtoms. For me, they didn't work, but I really hope it works for someone else.

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