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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    119

    Question A strained sternum? How the heck?

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    Normally, I don't get injured much for all that I do. However, I woke up yesterday morning unable to move or breathe without a significant amount of chest pain! I'm way too young for a heart attack, and I couldn't remember doing anything traumatic to myself, so it was a bit of a mystery. Today I noticed that my sternum was swollen about 2 inches below the top, and decided to get it checked out. The doctor claimed that I've damaged the soft connective tissue around my sternum, and we figured out it was probably job-related (I'm a geologist and recently spent over 20 days in a row hauling awkward, heavy 5-foot lengths of rock core around all day). Apparently the repetitive motion of picking up the core and twisting my body to be able to walk with it was simply too much.

    My question is, does anyone have any experience or recommendations with this type of injury? Running is out due to the arm motion, biking is out because I can't support my upper body on the handlebars without pain, and I'm having problems even deeply breathing or driving a stick-shift car or sleeping comfortably. How long can I expect to be out of commission, and what if anything can I do to help this heal?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Vernon, British Columbia
    Posts
    2,226
    I imagine our PTs will have some words of advice for you - Wahine? Pika?

    I for one, recommend very gentle exercise, like the most gentle of yoga movements, and walking. And I would think ice should help.

    I can't imagine how awful this must be, but I do know that you need rest. You need to give your body a chance to heal! It hurts to not be able to do what you want to do, but you will recover with time, patience and lots of love and support.

    Hugs and healing butterflies,
    ~T~
    The butterflies are within you.

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/picsiechick/

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,565
    TT - it's sounds like a rib subluxation or a good old fashioned costochondral joint irritation.

    I would recommend getting in to see a manual therapist, a PT would work if they have manual therapy credentials. Unfortunately, in WA state PTs are not allowed to do spinal manipulation. You may need one. So I would look for a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) or ask around to find a good chiro. I would go for the DO first. If it's a subluxation it may be treated in a few sessions with manipulation and other treatment techniques. Either the DO or Chiro could do this. However, if it's a costochondral joint strain with inflammation but no subluxation, a chiro could make it worse.

    Ice is always good and some Aleve (make sure you're OK to take it by checking with the pharmacist). Avoid sitting too long, repetitive twisting and bending.

    As for exercise, gentle movement like LBTC suggested would be in order. You won't be able to tolerate impact right now, that's whay you can't run. No weights. Swimming might be OK. You would have to go easy, stick with backstroke to start out with.

    These suckers really hurt and you can significantly decrease recovery time with a little help. So go see someone, kay.

    Pika - Other ideas? My brain's dead. I still have a virus.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
    2010 Custom Tonic cross with discs, SRAM
    2012 Moots YBB 2 x 10 Shimano XTR
    2014 Soma B-Side SS

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,324
    How about even just kicking with a kick board at the pool. I know it's kind of boring, but if you add fins that jazzes it up a bit. I know I can get my heart rate up pretty high just kicking.

    V.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    a good Osteopath in South SEattle (burien) is Dr RObert Perry
    12610 Des Moines Memorial Drive
    Seattle, Washington

    (206) 243-7818
    common sense, bicycling family.
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,565
    Thanks Mimi. I always feel better when people get referred to someone by word of mouth.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
    2010 Custom Tonic cross with discs, SRAM
    2012 Moots YBB 2 x 10 Shimano XTR
    2014 Soma B-Side SS

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    257
    TT Sounds like wahine covered most of the bases- I agree with her with regard to seeing an osteopath-since manual therapists (PT) may not be able to do what you need.(if it is against the "rules" -out of their scope of practice- soo glad that isn't the case here)
    I have found that a criss-cross of tape over the joint can serve as a reminder not to twist or pull too much- again as long as it is a strain and not subluxed- the DO will be able to help you know one way or the other.
    wrt swimming- I think Veronica has the right idea- I am afraid even back stroke may pull the ribs and sternum too much- kicking may be the way to go-Kicking on your back holding the flutterboard by your tummy may be best because any arm movement overhead may also be too much.
    Good luck- those doo hurt like a bugger but the good news is if you treat them right from the get go your down time will be shortened significantly.
    The cure for anything is salt water;
    sweat, tears or the sea

    Isak Dinesen

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    Posts
    10,557
    thread hijack:

    I am amazed at how limited PTs scope of practice is here in Washington. The PTs aren't even allowed to do things that I (a PTAsst) was doing during my stint in the midwest. (spinal mobs and METs, for example) And if the doctor's script says "shoulder", then only the glenohumeral joint gets treated. Nothing done with the clavicle or first rib or anything else in the neighborhood.

    PTAssts are even more limited in Washington. I only get to do even simple peripheral joint mobs maybe once every couple months, if I'm lucky! I've forgotten most of what I learned in school, and just about ALL of what I learned in the courses I was taking toward my CIMT. (I *never* get to use my advanced coursework here, so I haven't continued to shell out the $$ to finish the certification.)

    End hijack.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,565
    Pika - Good idea re taping. I like V's idea about the flutter board and kicking. You might have to play with the board position a bit to get comfortable. Maybe even try being on your back and holding the board into your chest like you're hugging it.

    Knott - This is a very big reason why although I live in Washington State, I work in Oregon. I can do spinal manips etc there. Now if only I could figure out how to legally be able to do acupuncture.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
    2010 Custom Tonic cross with discs, SRAM
    2012 Moots YBB 2 x 10 Shimano XTR
    2014 Soma B-Side SS

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    Knott, Wahine, I had no idea they taught you guys so much, you're right,
    it's criminal that you learn all that and then you can't use it!
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    119
    Some very good suggestions- I am going to try icing and Aleve and see how far that gets me- and just stick with walking for excercise for now, although I did stick my bike on a trainer and may just pedal sitting upright and see if that works. I found I can sleep relatively comfortably if I put my arms above my head- while that's not exactly the best sleeping position ever (cold hands!), it appears to let me breathe easier.

    Fortunately, I'm spending the next two days volunteering at two different PT clinics- and one of the PT's will have a look at it and see if there is anything they can suggest for me. I'm really hoping no subluxation is involved. Thanks so much for the word-of-mouth referrals- I will check and see if my insurance covers those folks!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    West Tennessee
    Posts
    2

    Thumbs up So glad to find others who have had the same injury...

    Hi, I am new to Team Estrogen and wanted to let you know how grateful I was to find that someone besides me had strained their sternum. I called my orthopedist and they refused to give me an appointment. They told me to go to the ER. What the ? They don't do ribs? Those are bones and connective tissue too, like the rest of the body! I managed to make my chest pop when doing a push-up. It was bizarre, almost out-of-body for a second. The pain was intense and has been with me now for over 10 days. This forum has given me a starting point to get on the road to recovery. Tennessee must have those same restrictions on PTs, so I am going to try to see an osteopath this week. Guess this means no bike for a couple of weeks. If I get to see the doc, I'll post a follow-up on the treatment. So glad to have found you guys!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,131
    Bullitgirl, welcome to TE! Sorry, I have no advice to offer. I just hope you find someone soon who can help you find relief.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

    2007 Rodriguez Adventure/B72
    2009 Masi Soulville Mixte/B18
    1997 Trek 820 Step-thru Xtracycle/B17

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    2,032
    ow, ow, ow - poor thing.

    when I was eleven, I ran full-on into a horizontal bar on on the playground.
    I seem to remember it hurt for months, that cartilage is a sucker to heal.

    Surely you could stationary bike in a while in a recumbent or upright position. Or stepper. Or just go for long walks.
    It's a little secret you didn't know about us women. We're all closet Visigoths.

    2008 Roy Hinnen O2 - Selle SMP Glider
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    119
    Bullitgirl: If it makes you feel better, I DID eventually recover! The only thing is, I can't carry a messenger bag on that shoulder or it twinges in the original injury location. However, I probably shouldn't carry lopsided weight anyhow, so no biggie. I think my PT eventually decided it was a sternoclavicular/costoclavicular issue (where sternum and clavicle join, essentally). Rest, ice, and careful sleeping positions helped enormously. Good luck!

 

 

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