Q. Is stiffness in thoracic area during movement a serious problem?

Answered by Dr. James F Geiselman and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.


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Hello doctor,

I had this stiffness, almost something pushing in my left thoracic area just under my shoulder blade, for the past six months and I feel it most when I am moving my left arm forward or keeping it forward or upward for some time (like for example when I wash plates). It is not painful, but annoying, though it stops when I move my hand down, or I hold my hand backward. It is only on one side, my left side. When I am sitting or lying, I am normal. I suspect an injury while doing free weights, cause this everyday annoyance came suddenly.

I am being treated by a chiropractor for the last two months, who is slowly working out all my thoracic points (and says that I might have T6 and T10). What I would like to know is since this is a feeling present only at certain mechanical or postural movements, can it be anything more serious than a back injury (I have slight scoliosis and my shoulders are a bit arched)? How many treatments should it take for the stiffness or pushing to go away completely? Do I need an MRI to exclude more serious health conditions? (right now I am quite worried and would like to avoid MRI)

I have been feeling like this for past six months but the stiffness is getting less often now, so it is improving. But I still feel it when moving my left hand and sometimes when I am standing, and it gets worse towards the end of the day. I do around three sessions for 20 minutes of cross-trainer every day. It does not affect me when I am doing it, but could it be responsible for my stiffness? Otherwise, I feel extremely healthy, though during the last period I felt a little tired mentally with all the overthinking related to this injury, cause I am used to being perfectly healthy.

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Dr. James F Geiselman


Welcome to icliniq.com.

I have reviewed your question. After reading your post, I immediately thought you might have a rib subluxation. This is very common with scoliosis (I myself have frequent rib issues). Since you know you have scoliosis, this will explain why this issue appears to be chronic. To specifically answer your questions, here are my answers.

  1. You may have persistent issues since scoliosis is a chronic issue. However, you simply cannot predict whether it will get worse or not. Most cases of adult scoliosis are stable and do not tend to get worse (though you may still have problems).
  2. Everyone is different. With that being said, your problem is long-term. So, in my case, I always have some degree of discomfort.
  3. At this point, I do not think an MRI is necessary. This would show soft tissue pathology such as a disc injury and it does not sound as though that is your problem.
  4. Keep training. Even if you have some level of discomfort, the movement is key. The most important thing is that you are improving.

If you were my patient, I would perform a chiropractic examination and would most likely recommend chiropractic adjustments and exercises if you were a candidate for care. Since you are not my patient, I recommend that you continue to go to a local chiropractor for treatment and proper care.

For more information consult chiropractor online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/chiropractor

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