As an osteopath, I have encountered many patients who present themselves in my office with a non-pathological chest pain. They describe a pain under their sternum, an oppressing chest feeling, a tightness in their thorax, a feeling of restricted breathing when inhaling deeply, a discomfort that sometimes pulls in the upper back. On some occasions, the patients describe a feeling of anxiety in addition to their pain.
These patients usually have taken a wise and cautious approach to treating their pain. They have consulted a doctor either in the emergency room or they consulted their family physician. They have undergone all appropriate diagnostic testing and their results reveal no abnormalities. At this point they are discharged and since major medical conditions have been ruled out, their pain may be of muscle, joint or ligament origin.
Clinically, these patients respond very well to osteopathic treatments. The osteopath will alleviate the tensions in the muscles of the chest. They will ensure proper joint mechanics of the sternum, ribs and vertebrae of the upper back, as well as any structure that may be infringing on their proper movement. They will normalize the ligaments and linings of the chest. Finally, they will review physiological and proper breathing patterns with the patients.
From personal experience, these patients respond very well to such an approach and their symptoms typically resolve. However, if anyone experiences any of the signs or symptoms listed below they should call 911, not an osteopath:
- Squeezing chest pain
- Problems breathing
- Abdominal or back pain (more common in women)
- Cold, sweaty skin
- Skin that is bluish or paler than normal
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaw pain
Note: Not everyone experiences chest pain during a heart attack.
During a heart attack, many women, elderly people, and people with diabetes tend to experience “soft signs”, including:
- Mild, unfocused chest discomfort that:
– Comes and goes
– Doesn’t feel like pain
– Starts mild and gets continually stronger
– Gets better with rest
– Gets worse with activity
- Gastric discomfort
- Flu-like symptoms
Note: Men may have these signs as well.
Taken from the Canadian Red-Cross website.
Once that all appropriate medical testing has determined that your pain is not of a pathological origin, then, and only then, you may want to consider calling an osteopath.