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Chronic Myofascial Pain

Thoracic muscle tightness and spasm

Hi all

I am new to this forum and wanted to share my recent experiences to see if anyone has experienced similar or has any insights they could share.

Here goes ( its a long one ! )

A few months ago I was being treated for a ? Kidney infection . I always have urine and protein in my urine ( awaiting nephrology appointment ) however the positive urine dip along with raised infection markers and loin / abdo pain led to antibiotic treatment.

During antibiotic course I developed thoracic spine pain, shortness of breath and palpitations. Cardiac tape and chest xray were clear and was put down to muscar skeletal.

Muscles around thoracic spine, diaphram and ribs became very tense and tight and was little relief from massage. Had spasms at side of ribs and a deep ache in mid back to the right under shoulder.

Attended chiropractor which said I had a curved spine and adjustments should improve symptoms. At this point I had front chest wall tremors, numbness and pain in arms and acute back discomfort.

I intended to persist with chiro however after a back and nexk adjustment one day I developed facial numbness and twitching which lasted 2 weeks. I did not return to chiro and went to gp.

All bloods were fine but by this time I was experiencing muscular twitching in face snd limbs, a vibration feeling all over and head pressure with neck spasms and visual disturbances.

These symptoms were causing me to feel extremely anxious and was referred to neurologist ( still awaiting appointment ).

Over the course of the last few months symptoms come and go and change. The contast problem for me is the tightness around chest wall, back and diaphragm. Painfull spasms and what feels like reduced lung inflation capacity. I take daily supplements ( magnesium, alpoic acid , vit d 3 , vit c and vit b6 as well as using a toipical magnesium spray. I see a private physio ( who felt posture related ) do daily exercises/ stretches and regular massage. All provides little symptom relief apart from triggor point muscle massage.

Drs are unable to help with my symptoms and its a case of wait and see what neurology say....which will prob be several months before I get an appointment.

So there are the facts and here is how I feel regarding it all.

My first thoughts were that the antibiotics taken prior had had a toxic effect and caused the numerous symptoms, as a health professional I am aware of such cases however generally medics/ gp s do not agree with such theories.

I am open to the fact that anxiety can cause alot of muscular and neurology type symptoms and while I personally do not feel that this is all caused by anxiety I have made efforts to reduce any stress and anxiety (meditation, reiki, massage etc)' which may be a by product of unresolved symptoms.

Currently at a loss and with no diagnosis or insight into what has caused all this and a lack of self ability to find relief, I am emotionally and physicaly exausted and often struggle while working full time long day shifts.

I had no prior muscle issues before all of this.

I have been reasearching myofascial pain and trigger point therapy and have spoke to a practitioner in.muscle and skeletal health who feels that from my description I may be experiencing muscle hypertonicity and pain due to nerve entrapment and while masage and trigger point therapy may help it will not cure as the underlying cause has to be found.

I have an appointment for asessment re this next week and hope I can get more answers / relief.

Anyone had similar problems/ experiences ?

Appologise in advance this exhaustive post :)'

4 Replies

I'm new and here for your reasons exactly. I get the most pain in my upper back, chest, and shoulders. I see a chiropractor, massage therapist and have had my fair share of dry needling with a physical therapist. I, too, have anxiety although I feel it may be the pain causing the anxiety! I'm 38 small framed and active. I find some relief from a self per cussing massager dug into trigger points. My muscles feel like bones (per all of my specialists). This all started last winter around the time I had some stomach issues. I practice deep breathing, calming music, multi vitamins , magnesium, and extra hydration. I've not gone as far as a neuro but seems like logical next step. I can't help but feel it's something more than posture and stress.


Hi Dee, thanks for your reply and sorry for what your going through ! Since this post I have been to a clinic which feels it is muscle tightness and trigger points causing my symptoms.

Spine is missaligned ( always has been ) and they think at some point there has been an injury, maybe due to lifting etc that has caused triggor points in muscles which has spread like wildfire and cause other muscles to tighten and compensate etc.

Funnily enough mine all started with abdo pain also.... I think now it was maybe pain referred round from lower spine. Im getting cupping therapy, trigger point therapy, acupuncture and adjustments.

Tight muscles around neck and spasms at base of skull would explain my vision problems ( occipital nerve irritarion ) and pains in face....... happy to say I am free fron these symptoms at present.

I still get intermitent breathlessness and pain around ribs but not as bad. Currently have a chest infection due to not being able to breathe properly a few weeks ago as diaphragm was so tight.

Gp said that tight muscles would not cause a feeling of breathlessness...... funny that ....seen as triggor point therapy was what gave relief to it :)

Cupping aand massage help ....but so far accupuncture has irritated it more.

Amazing what muscles can do and they symptoms they cause. I think because gps dont know that much about muscles and spine, they tend to fob you off or just do not understand your symptoms.

Sometimes best to be in the hands of those who know (chiro, physio) and even then it can be a case of trial and error till things start to improve.

I feel like I have been made to feel like a hypochondriac in relation to symptoms reporting and seek of relief of symptoms when going to gp. My symptoms have been very real and at times affected me greatly ...... but its a case of " you have been referred to bla bla ,nothing else I can do "

Your then left for months, no relief, no insight, just suffering and waiting ...... all you can do is do your best to seek out answers from other diciplines and modes or relief. I hope your continuation with your treatments gives you relief, it might take time, but like me , along the way you get used to the pain and you learn what helps and what doesnt.

Im still awaiting a neurology appointment however I no long feel my neuro symptoms were due to a neuro problem but rather due to a muscular problem.


Hi, I have had such a nightmare over the last 3 years.

Started off with right, frozen shoulder which came on out of the blue. It was decided that it stemmed from neck. Developed symptoms on left hand side of neck, down arm and around shoulder blade. Feels like I’ve been kicked in my side most mornings. Anyway, have been having continual physio for this etc. I have Lower back issues as well.

About 9 months ago I had an episode of crushing chest pain right in centre of chest going through to back or vice versa, hard to tell, also going up left side of neck and down left arm, much more intense than normal. I’m aware of symptoms for cardiac issues due to previous career but felt a bit silly to call an ambulance so just sat in Tesco carpark till it passed.

Happened a few times so I spoke with GP and said it didn’t feel cardiac somehow. He told me that next time it happened to phone an ambulance. I was seen in chest pain clinic two weeks later and had all usual tests which came out ok. They then agreed it was muscular.

My issue is that I don’t know how to prevent it. I have physio, massage, cupping etc and know that if I do things like walk on uneven surfaces or do a lot of over arm things, like fishing around in cupboards etc, this will bring on pain a day or few hours later. I have just been told by pain management team to avoid those movements (Don’t really know how I can) and to maybe go to A&E, again, pain doesn’t last long enough for that.

I was due to have trigger point injections from pain management team but I’m seeing a new physio privately now who believes the chest pain is caused by trigger points coming from neck and back issues and says that if he manages to sort out all issues then it should prevent/reduce episodes and has advised against injections as they just cover up the issues not solve them. He’s the 3rd person to tell me to avoid injections now so I have to listen.

The pain completely stops me in my tracks and I just don’t know what to do with myself for the duration of pain which normally lasts around 10 to 20 mins. Work always think I’m about to have a heart attack. I can’t talk or sit still through it and an area on my thoracic spine remains tender for a few days after and if I’m not careful enough and reduce arm movement, it can start again. I am not an anxious person but have tried to reduce any stress and put things in place to help me relax. My sleep isn’t that great due to pain from neck and back, that would be the only thing I can say.

I have so many trigger points everywhere that are so tender and I don’t know who can tell me why I have so many. Literally everywhere, lower legs, ribs front and back, thighs, arms can they all just be caused by my spine?

If you find anything that helps then please let me know. I think the physio may try acupuncture after I’ve tried to confuse the nerves in my neck to see if I can reduce the spasms in my arm and shoulder blade from over sensitive nerves. He thinks this will help.


Hi Ann, sorry for what your going through, it really impacts your day to day life doesn't it? I have been going to a practitioner for months now, who feels my thoracic spine pain, muscular pain and chest wall pain is widespread hypertonicity of muscles with thoracic nerve impingement.

This all came on suddenly after a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics caused extreme short lived anxiety and I feel either the muscle tension arose from this or it was a perfect storm of poor posture, already vulnerable spine (due to job) with some anxiety thrown in for good measure :) I'm waiting to see neuro due to some neuro symptoms ( I don't feel it is neurological In nature).

I have had months of acupuncture, cupping, myofacial release, trigger point therapy and massage. It helps for a few days and the pain always returns and changes day to day. Muscles in arms and legs often stiffen at night and it's excruciating to move them for several minutes.

The worst pain ive had like yourself has to have been the chest wall pain that can stop you in your tracks. It doesn't feel cardiac in nature but it is intense, I too have had cardiac causes ruled out after an admission to hospital with pain and tachycardia.

My understanding is when it comes to trigger points, this can quickly affect adjacent muscles and then spread like wildfire. I no longer have the rib and thoracic muscles spasms but I get them in my neck causing migraine and facial pain.

For me it's been trial and error. Just wanted to share some things I find help me.

Magnesium salt and Epsom salt baths.

Regular massage and physio delivered and self trigger point therapy. I got trigger point balls and trigger point roller cylinder along with a book on myofacial release and trigger point therapy.

Daily stretches and posture control.

Biofreeze gel and heat pads.

I often massage the trigger points I can feel around the front of chest wall which can quickly relieve pain for me.

I'm thinking of taking up swimming as warm water and exercise helps.

As a health professional myself I have felt rather let down by the system and the lack of knowledge and insight into muscular disorders. I currently await a 20 weeks neuro appointment wait and other than work with my physio was told there's nothing else they can do to help. It seems it's a poorly understood area of medicine when it comes to general practitioners.

I wish you all the best Ann and hope you find resolve or improvement soon xx