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Christine Conway – 20 July 2019
A few months ago I discovered the Costochondritis.org website, via an internet search, and saw that Michael Durtnall was listed as the only UK specialist. I live in the north of England so the journey to see Michael in London, involving sitting for 2 hours on a train, was a daunting prospect, when I could only comfortably make short local journeys. However, I took the plunge and contacted him, and I’m extremely pleased that I did.
My initial hour long appointment with Michael involved x-rays, discussion, better posture suggestions and treatment. Remarkably, over just a few months the 6 x 30 minute treatments I’ve had, followed by an hour with a Sayer Clinic physio, have already helped to vastly lower my pain levels, allowing me to get on with my life much more normally.
Michael’s treatment involves working on my exposed chest, spine and shoulders, and he gives me exercises to do to meet my specific needs, which become my homework. His mantra is “keep moving”. He uses a combination of techniques including chiropracty, deep tissue massage and a vibration tool. He is highly professional throughout the treatment and very knowledgeable about Costochondritis, which is very reassuring. I feel I am in safe hands. His interesting and often humorous chatter helps to distract me from the treatment and puts me at ease.
Last week I returned from a holiday abroad, something I couldn’t have considered doing a few months ago, which indicates the progress I’ve made in a relatively short period of time. I’m looking forward to my next appointment because after each visit I feel better than the last. I’m very grateful to Michael and his team and have no hestition in recommending them.
Tanya Hayes – 24 July 2018
I cannot express my gratitude enough to Michael Durtnall. For nearly a year my 12 year old daughter had been experiencing severe chest pains, to the point that she was barely attending school, she had given up all the sport she loved and was spending more and more time in bed. Despite extensive tests the NHS were unable to diagnose the issue. There were scarey words being banded around like M.E. / CFS and fibromyalgia and an ever increasing cocktail of prescription drugs which did not seem to be helping.
After spending many hours on the Internet trying to find some help I stumbled across the Sayer Clinic website. I didn’t know if anyone could help but was so desperate I figured we didn’t have much to lose.
Within 10 mins of the initial consultation Michael diagnosed my daughter with Costochondritis and said he could help. I wanted to cry and hug him with relief.
It’s taken 10 sessions and we have had a 2 hour journey each way to get to the clinic but my daughter is now almost pain free, she’s back at school full time, and beginning to enjoy sports again. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Michael for giving my daughter her life back and hopefully she can now go on and enjoy her teenage years pain free.
I started experiencing chest pains, extreme tiredness and heart palpitations in September 2017. I was referred to a children’s specialist who told me it was all in my head and that I would just have to deal with the pain. As the pain got worse I stopped being able to do a full day at school, I was having to sleep during lesson time and at the worst point not going into school at all. I loved doing lots of sports but I had to give them all up because I was so tired and in so much pain the next day that I couldn’t function. I was given prescription medication which just made things worse.
Then my mum found Michael Durtnall and my first appointment was on 17th of May 2018. He was able to tell me exactly what I had, and that he could treat it. 10 weeks later I am now doing full days at school again and a full range of sports again, and am even having pain free days.
Caroline Elliott (Age 43) July 2018
After suffering for 2 weeks with debilitating chest pain, I went to see my GP, who sent me to A&E, to have an precautionary ECG. As someone who had a history of previous heart issues, and had surgery, this was my overriding concern. All tests (inc blood) were clear, and so the A&E consultant examined me. He prodded my chest a few times (which nearly sent me through the ceiling!) and diagnosed me with Costochondritis.
I asked what I should do to get rid of it, and he said that I should just ‘carry on as normal’, which included, according to him, being perfectly fine to keep cycling on my road bike with dropped handlebars.
I kept telling myself it must be all in my mind as I was enduring a period of extreme stress in my life, and I was an otherwise fit, and very active 42 year old.
The pain in my chest, the extreme tight feeling, and not being able to take a ‘proper’ breath, got progressively worse when I exercised. I took it upon myself to stop all strenuous activity, especially as it made my symptoms much worse!
I became very sensitive to vapours, breathing in air fresheners, aftershave or perfume, or any cigarette smoke, literally felt like a fire inside my chest. My shoulders were so tight and painful too. I could not tolerate a bra of any kind.
I returned to my GP around 4 months later, still complaining of the same symptoms, though some of the pain had relocated to another area in my chest, my lower ribs. He said I should take anti-inflammatories for 6 weeks, and rest. Neither of these things were possible for me, as I have issues with stomach acid (worse thing to do is take Ibuoprofen), I was a full time carer for my disabled Mother, and was running my own business, so rest was not an option.
I sought professional help from a local Physio who helped a little with some gentle massage, but I only had small relief for a few hours, and then the intense discomfort returned.
I tried ice packs on my chest, hot packs, drinking lots more water, massage, and various creams and rubs, but they all only provided fleeting relief. In short, nothing really made much difference to the condition.
Eventually I did some research online and discovered Costochondritis.org. They had a link to advise of practitioners who could help treat the condition effectively. I was stunned to see that there was only one name listed world wide! This is Dr Michael Durtnall, whose clinic is in London.
I made an appointment for a consultation with Michael, and that was without doubt, the best thing I have ever done. He took a number of X-ray images of my thoracic region, cervical (neck), and pelvis. I found out some very interesting information about myself from these X-rays! During this first visit, Michael began some treatment to help with my discomfort. When I left, I already could feel a slight improvement in my symptoms, and I was much wiser about my physical state, and the way forward.
The key thing about the treatment Michael provides for Costochondritis is that it is completely targeted to the individual, and the deep tissue massages, (and I mean deep) combined with Chiropractic treatment, is what generates this effective lasting relief. It is not like any treatment you may have anywhere else, because the chest is exposed while Michael, with total professionalism, works on the affected areas in the chest and upper back. He massages very firmly, into the muscles between your ribs directly on your skin, without towels, which would dampen the effect.
I have had around 6 treatment sessions, each for 30 minutes, and I can already say, I am 75% better. Of course I have some very good days, and then some bad days, but none as bad as before seeking help from Michael. The stretching exercises, and understanding the importance of keeping moving, especially if you feel discomfort, is all fantastic advice from Michael. He is thoroughly professional, and reassuring.
I travel up to London by train from the south coast, but if I had to travel thousands of miles to be treated by Dr Michael Durtnall, I would. I will continue seeing Michael, and any members of his Physio team for as long as I need to. I am very hopeful that I will be cured completely.
Costochondritis is a painful, changeable, and at times, quite worrying condition. If you are suffering with it, and you are able to, PLEASE seek help from Sayer Clinics in London. You absolutely WILL find help here, to treat this horrible condition.
All the very best.
Katie P. 12th July 2018
Jacqui Asad, June 2018
Dr Durtnall has given my daughter her life back.
The NHS acknowledged her pain but didn’t know how to treat costochondritis. After months of tests and chronic pain not getting any better, we were told her only choice is pain management, leaving a 17 year old girl potentially a victim of severe pain for the rest of her life, on a huge amount of painkillers.
That was until we saw Dr Durtnall. He’s patient, kind and just amazing! Turning her life around from the first visit. We travel nearly 2 hours to get the best treatment there is from a leading expert whose knowledge and dedication is second to none.
It’s so great to see her be able to walk again and not rely on a wheelchair. It’s even better to see her smile and less tears in pain.
Seeing Dr Durtnall is the best thing we ever did and I don’t know what we’d do without his support. He’s just wonderful.
Laura, Feb 2018
My costochondritis started when I was 21 weeks pregnant. The condition become so debilitating I was signed off work. I work as an orthopaedic nurse on a high dependency ward. The pain was constant and so intense (stabbing and burning around my left rib cage) often bringing me to tears. The GPs answer was to take strong opiod based medication and nothing more could be done. I became very down. Taking daily painkillers was not a route I wanted to go down while pregnant so I started to do my own research on the condition and began to see different practitioners including physiotherapists and osteopaths. Unfortunately nothing worked. After a couple months of exhausting what I thought was every option I stumbled across Sayers online stating to be specialists in costochondritis. This was my last hope and I was praying they could help.
My partner came with me and I saw Michael Durtnall for a very thorough hour long consultation taking an extensive history. He used an ultrasound on the area around my left rib cage as he was unable to x-ray due to the fact I was pregnant. He explained it was good news that my tissues within that area were all intact but this then did confirm what I had was Costo with all the symptoms I had been describing. After the examination he used a combination of manipulation and deep tissue chest and musculoskeletal massage. The treatment was not painful at all unlike when I had seen other practitioners including physios and osteopaths who aggravated my condition often leaving me in bed for several days unable to hardly move.
Michael was very honest in managing my expectations, explaining it would not be a quick fix but I should certainly see an improvement after the treatment. I left Michael’s and for the first time in months I had no pain whatsoever. I couldn’t quite believe it. Unfortunately the pain did come back later that evening but I knew this was the start of the healing process and it was the first time in months I had felt positive that I could get better. Seeing Michael was a breath of fresh air. Unlike the other practitioners he told me I should not take any painkillers especially while pregnant. This was exactly what I wanted to hear and I knew from that moment I was in good hands. He also advised me to keep moving while I had been lying flat for months due to the pain. I then bought the back pod and I feel that together with Michael’s treatment and daily rib massages this is what eventually helped the condition and by the time I was 35 weeks pregnant I was 80% better. I can now report I have had the baby and since week 38 of my pregnancy I had no further pain and am still pain free ? Its actually quite hard to write this review as it brings back just how awful a time that was for me but I’m also exceptionally grateful that I can write this completely pain free.
I continue to have maintenance treatments with Michael, as I never want to go back to being in that excruciating pain again. Michael is an exceptionally talented chiropractor with vast amount of experience and knowledge. I highly recommend him to anyone with the condition. Unfortunately there is no magic cure and it will take time to get better but following treatments, using the back pod, Michael’s advice on postural re-education and keeping moving, it will. Thanks again Sayers for everything.
Thomas M, Decembre 2018
I have been a patient at Sayer Clinics for about 8 months and I must say Michael Durtnall’s treatment and Karolina Krzaczek’s physiotherapy really changed my life. I first came to see Michael in April 2017 after suffering bad and persistent back and neck tension as well as costochondritis for about 1.5 years. By the time I came to see Michael, over 1.5 years I had consulted 3 different doctors (including expensive private ones, 3 different osteopaths and 2 different physiotherapists in London. None of these could identify what my problem was and in fact treated me incorrectly: physiotherapists would not treat my tension affected areas because they “didn’t want to make it worse” and an orthopaedic surgeon I consulted gave me a mix of pain killers that severely affected how I perceived. It got to the point where I was incredibly frustrated. I thought nobody could help and that I would never get well, do sports and be pain free again. What a relief and what a change when I saw Michael! He is extremely knowledgeable about back and neck and frankly any skeletal and muscular issue. From the first appointment I felt that this practice was different: Michael did a thorough assessment of my condition and quickly drew up a plan of how to tackle my problems. He made me do regular physiotherapy with Karolina whose treatment and exercises helped me tremendously in easing my muscular tension and in learning how to ameliorate and release tension and pain if and when I get it. Both of them are also extremely nice and pleasant. I highly recommend anyone with complex and severe neck, back and other skeletal or muscular problems to see Michael and Karolina at Sayer Clinics. Highly recommend them!
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.