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Pip, London, UK – March 2017
I’m so happy I saw Dr Michael Durtnall at Sayer Clinic Kensington for my severe flares of Costochondritis, rib and chest pains which radiated around my ribs to my breastbone from my middle back. I had repeated attacks for four months and was worried sick about it. My GP sent me for heart and breast checks which were normal so I went straight to the Sayer Clinics because I knew their great reputation.
I’ve been receiving incredibly specific spinal manipulation plus deep diaphragm stretching massage and chest mobilisation from Michael and excellent physiotherapy treatment from Karolina. I had been so worried but having received such wonderful treatment from Michael and Karolina they put my mind at rest and took away all my worry.
I’m feeling great and I highly recommend visiting the team at Sayer Clinics for all your physio and chiropractic needs. I’m so pleased I did.
Dominique N, March 2017
Lexi Watson, March 2017
I was ‘diagnosed’ (as much as a person can be diagnosed with Costochondritis!) 7 years ago when I was 19.
I had had glandular fever and was just starting to get over it, so went back to uni lectures, and whilst pulling my chair forward I felt a sudden stab in my chest, just to the left of my sternum. I went home, lay in bed for a week before going to A&E and they ran every test in the book on me to make sure I didn’t have a blood clot/hadn’t broken a rib/wasn’t having a heart attack etc etc. When they didn’t find anything, I was told to take ibuprofen and it would go away. 7 years later, obviously, it’s still here. Wonderful.
Naturally I have tried pretty much everything to try and alleviate the pain or cure the issue; from seeing acupuncturists, osteopaths, chiropractors and masseurs to having my own blood injected into the site and steroids injected straight into the junctures between the two painful ribs, which, by the way, was excruciatingly painful (and I had it done 6 times, that’s how much I wanted that to work!) But nothing seemed to even remotely help. I basically just felt like I wanted to cut into my own chest and rip the cartilage out, it hurt that much.
The only thing that has seemed to help at all has been seeing chiropractor Michael Durtnall at Sayer Clinic. He made me see how ridiculously stiff and terrible my posture had become (after years of hunching over to protect my ribs) and got straight to giving me exercises to start loosening up my chest and back, as well as directly getting to treating the source of the pain with back adjustments and massage to the area. This has helped a lot with the pain that had started to radiate out from my painful cartilage into other parts of my ribcage. I have had maybe 12 sessions and I would say the main source of pain has improved around 50% (which is nothing to be sniffed at!) and I’m hopeful that it will improve further as well.
I also invested in a BackPod which is pretty painful (I won’t lie) but it really helps stretch out and separate the ribs, which seems to help movability. GPs tend to be rubbish when it comes to things like Costo, because they can’t physically see it and there’s not a lot of research into it, but asking for a referral is definitely the best thing to do, I’m still waiting to get a referral to a thoracic specialist, but apparently they are the people to see if every other avenue fails.
Also, my final piece of sage wisdom, would be to get a portable TENs machine. They are lifesavers, honestly. They help to mask the pain and mean you can actually get from wherever you are when the pain starts to home with relative ease (compared to when you haven’t got one and you basically just want to curl up into a ball in the middle of the street!) I keep one in my bag at all times just in case. I’m hopeful that my Costo will resolve itself in time, because to be honest I’m sick of feeling like an old lady at 26 years of age. It’s easy to feel pretty beaten by it all when you’ve spent your entire twenties in pain, but there really isn’t anything to do except battle on and be willing to try anything that might help. I’ve found that chiro and massage is by far the best thing I have tried so far, so that’s what I would recommend starting with, but make sure you see a specialist (like at Sayer) so that they don’t just mess up your ribs more!
Natalie Lucia, March 2017
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY. HEALING FROM COSTOCHONDRITIS
Fed up of feeling like you’re having a heart attack, like someone is stabbing a searing hot knife through your chest, you can’t breathe properly and your rib cage and sternum are so sore you can barely touch them? Tired of being scared all the time, confused by conflicting information and constantly worried the doctors have ‘missed something’? How about being pumped full of medication that at best makes you bloated and at worst leaves you feeling sick, dizzy and even hallucinating?
With commitment, positive thinking and the right help, I believe you can not only take control of costochondritis, but beat it too.
I was diagnosed with costochondritis five months ago. After a severe bout of adult chickenpox and then an inflamed lung, I was rushed to hospital with chronic chest pain and shortness of breath. Like many others before me, the blood tests, X rays, CT scan and ECGs all came back clear, but I was in agonizing pain, unable to breathe, walk or sleep properly. Today I’m 80 per cent recovered and looking forward to a full recovery. The road to healing is a personal one, but here’s my top tips:
- Find a specialist
Costochondritis is primarily a musculoskeletal condition, that in my case was triggered by an inflammatory virus, but in fact has many underlying causes, including bad posture and years of working hunched over desks and laptops. This causes your chest to drop down, the joint that attaches your ribs to your back to lock and this in turn overworks the connected joint at the front of your chest. Your connective tissue – which is stronger than steel – then sets over these locked joints, pinching nerves, tightening your chest and causing chronic pain. Check out New Zealand costochondritis expert physiotherapist Steve August’s brilliant video for a clear explanation.
First and foremost find a specialist, who can unlock those hinges and break up the connective tissue that’s tightened around your body. My weekly musculoskeletal treatment with Dr Durtnall at Sayer Clinics combines physical manipulation, with deep tissue massage on my chest, diaphragm and ribs. It’s slow, it’s painful and if you’re woman like me, it means not being shy about someone seeing or touching your chest. This won’t fase a professional and their lack of embarrassment will ensure any embarrassment you feel is fleeting
- Flood your body with nutrition
Remove all foods from your diet that cause inflammation and replace them with wholesome, nourishing foods that will boost your immune system and give your body the best chance of fighting back. After speaking with the brilliant nutritionist Candice Caskey at the Facebook Group Healing from Costochondritis & Tietze’s Syndrome, I adopted a gluten free, dairy free, meat free, refined sugar free and processed food free diet. And I pumped my body full of nutrition, including green vegetables, wild fish, good fats and inflammation busters like turmeric, pineapple and spinach. I drink a fresh green juice every day and if I want treats, I opt for raw chocolate like Ombars that are packed full of micronutrients.
At first it was difficult, but within a fortnight of eating whole, clean foods, my pain had halved and my energy levels had soared. With so many incredible, delicious and easy recipes out there, from Deliciously Ella to The Earth Diet, I can honestly say I would never go back.
- Correct your posture
When I was X-rayed at Sayer Clinics we discovered that my chest had fallen down, tightening my diaphragm and scrunching all the nerves in my sternum. My left ribs were pushed in front of my right and my posture was horrendous, which was causing all kinds of strain on my skeleton. A big part of my recovery has been around getting my chest upright and making postural changes that will stop this condition recurring.
First up I ditched sofas, armchairs and any thing else that would cause me to drop my chest. When I watch TV I sit on the floor with my legs outstretched, with a foam wedge propped against the sofa. I have a sit/stand desk at work and I do postural exercises every day, to get my body into alignment.
Mainstream medicine will tell you to ‘rest and take anti inflammatories and in six weeks it will go away’. Not only is this not true for thousands of costochondritis sufferers, it’s the opposite of what’s going to help in the long run. When I went to my specialist unable to walk and with searing stabbing pains in my chest, he made me get up and push through the pain. He taught me that we have to remobilize the chest, to break up the fascia that is constricting the rib cage and hence breathing. I took to doing three brisk walks with my chest up and my arms swinging, every single day. I went from not being able to walk to the end of my garden, to doing hour-long walks at pace! I’m now reintroducing exercise like pilates, swimming and ballet, to help with my posture, keep my body supple and to strengthen my core.
- Ditch the underwires
Ladies , tight rings of metal pushing down on your sternum and ribs will make what’s already sore 10 times worse. If you can, ditch your bras altogether. If like me you need the support, opt for a softer bra like a crop top or Bravissimo’s Sophie Non-Wired Bra. In fact I overhauled my entire wardrobe, cutting out heels, handbags and anything that had a negative impact on my posture. Trust me, when I was told to buy a backpack to wear to work I baulked at the idea, but now I realize nearly everyone is wearing them and the right brand can look pretty stylish!
6. Take supplements
I take Vitamin D to strengthen my muscles and cartilages, a strong multivitamin to boost my immune system and Turmeric Complex to fight inflammation in my body. I drink Clean Greens everyday and I get muscle-repairing magnesium into my body every evening with an Epsom salts bath.
- Use heat to manage the pain
When I came to Sayer Clinics I had previously been pumped full of medication including NSAIDS, steroids, stomach liners and a host of other nasties. From chronic digestive issues caused by anti inflammatories, to insomnia and a horrendous hallucination caused by steroids, my body was so out of whack I couldn’t tell what pain was caused by medication and what was costochondritis. Dr Durtnall took me off all pain medication overnight. Instead, I started using hot baths every evening, full of Epsom salts, heat patches for my chest, tiger balm patches for my back and arnica gel for my ribs. These natural remedies not only have no side effects, but they encourage blood flow to the damaged areas, helping them to heal.
- Sleep like a pregnant lady
Sleeping through the night was near impossible for me to begin with. So I bought a new, firm mattress with a soft foam topper and I learnt to sleep on my side with one pillow under my head and another between my legs. If your ribs are really tender and you can’t quite manage this yet, try sleeping on your back, with one pillow under your head and another under your legs. Getting a good nights sleep is so important for your healing, so make it a priority.
Keeping your muscles supple and stretching out your connective tissue is so important with this condition, especially when you start correcting your posture and moving muscles and tendons that haven’t been used in years. I have a deep tissue massage every week and I do a ton of stretches every morning, at my desk and all through the day. The trick is to flex your cartilages enough to keep your chest moving, but not so far that you cause more damage. You really have too listen to your body with this one. Some people find Steve August’s BackPod a great way to stretch the back and shoulders out, but start gently and build up.
- Don’t make costochondritis a part of you
I point blank refuse to refer to the costochondritis in my body as ‘my costochondritis’ or ‘my costo’. My boyfriend and I have taken to calling it ‘Mother F***er’. Why? Because it’s an unwelcome guest that’s passing through. In short, its not part of me and I will not let it define me.
Yes its important to be patient with yourself and sometimes we just need a good cry to get it out. But don’t let the unfairness of this condition eat you up, because it will only hamper your recovery. When you are unwell, try to focus on your healing. When you feel pain, breathe through it and think of something that makes you happy. When you focus on how horrendous this condition is, you get lost in it, releasing stress hormones and adding to the tension you’re already holding in your body. I find inspiring radio shows like The Earth Diet really motivating but anything that makes you feel positive and happy will help keep your mind where it needs to be.
For me, the biggest part of my recovery has been about empowerment. I had been scared silly by doctors and hospitals, who said I might have a blood clot, then an inflamed heart, then chronic fatigue syndrome, then something else and something else. It wasn’t until I blocked out my fear and took control of my recovery that I went from a place of darkness and panic, to getting on the road to health and wellbeing. I’m not 100 per cent recovered yet, but I’ve come a long, long way from being bed bound, unable to breathe and wracked with pain.
I congratulate myself every day on how far I HAVE come and the belief that I will recover fully pushes me through any set backs. William Ernest Henley sums it up perfectly in his poem Invictus, when he says:
“I am the Master of my fate. I am the Captain of my soul.”
Why? Because we’re not helpless bystanders when it comes to our bodies. The people who recover from this condition are those who are willing to try everything until they find a combination that works for them. We have the power to affect our recovery and we chose whether we fight costochondritis or are defeated by it.
Emily B, London, February 2017
Marta and Sofia at Sayer Clinic cured my Costochondritis.
I was in horrible pain in my sternum after a jogger ran hard into the side of my chest while I was standing quite still, innocently watching roller hockey in Hyde Park. For weeks afterwards my ribs hurt especially if I lifted anything, sat at a computer or twisted the wrong way. I had a sharp pain as if a knife was being stuck into my sternum.
At different treatment appointments I saw Marta and Sofia, expert physiotherapists at Sayer Clinic in Kensington, who treated me with deep-tissue chest mobilisations and musculoskeletal massage. They helped me with postural re-education and gave me clear exercises.
After the collision I started subconsciously tensing my body when I was about to do something that I knew would aggravate my costochondritis. Even going on the tube at rush hour was a daunting prospect in case someone knocked into me. Marta and Sofia were fantastic by making me aware of this and helping me to relax. They showed me how to do frequent, short bursts of exercises to maintain muscle mobility and regain my confidence.
I am so grateful I was treated by Marta and Sofia at Sayer Clinics and I appreciated their effective musculoskeletal approach instead of drugs or cortisone injections.
Thank you Marta, Sofia and Sayer Clinics.