Pain for over a year from seat belt in car crash and Costochondritis. I need relief!

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I had a car crash in May 2012 resulting in whip-lash and chest pain from the seat belt quite badly. I was on the way to the beach and wearing a bikini, I believe the metal balls on my bikini may have been squashed into my chest. I went to the hospital afterward as I felt very ill. I wasn't x-rayed because they can't do anything for chest injuries, they apparently just heal themselves. I was told to rest and given pain medication, and I should be OK in a week or two, as long as the pain didn't worsen, the pain was mainly on the left side. I went back to the doctors after this because the pain had gotten worse and I was given different pain meds. After a while I did get a little better but there was always a niggle in my left side, It didn't feel like bone but an internal prod/pull/tightening between my ribs, near my sternum, and in what felt like the muscle on top of them, it got worse when driving, I felt comfort when massaging the area and applying heat. Then in February I started a new job and it got much worse. I went back to the doctors because my chest pain was getting significantly worse and now on both sides of my chest and in my back, here it was unbearable to touch at all and I had to stop working for a while. Here I was diagnosed with Costochondritis and given strong anti-inflammatory medication. He believed that this was work related and not related to the crash.

It is now August 2013 and I can now distinguish between Costo and the other pain/sensation.. Costo was a hot, very severe type of pain which limits my movement and daily life. But I still have this other pain mainly on my left side but sometimes on the right near the 3rd/4th rib near the sternum. It will not go away and it gets worse if I'm cold, or feeling run down. It makes me want to curl up to relieve the sensation or stretch out. It feels tight in the morning and it sometimes restricts my inhalation after sleeping on my front or side. It also cracks on a daily basis. It isn't excruciating, but enough to make me feel very uncomfortable. It doesn't affect my daily life but when i feel the pain it makes me exhale or inhale with discomfort. Like a flash of pain and I have to rub the area. So much so people notice and ask if I'm okay. I take over the counter meds almost daily and if its particularly uncomfortable when I'm driving long distances.

What is this pain? Has anyone experienced this before? Is it just my seat belt injury healing? Did the crash create a weakness? Since it has healed a bit, has the crash brought on mild, trauma related Costochondritis?

I need some answers, I have had an ECG to rule out my heart and blood tests to ensure there was no joint swelling or athritis.

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Wow it feels so good to rad this and know someone is dealing with th same thing. Well not good, but you know what I mean!

    I was in a car accident May 2011.. I was driving, got rear ended pretty badly.. And ended up with a huge seatbelt bruise on the left side of my chest. I was leaving for Thailand the next day and really did not want to deal with this, and since there was no visible damage to my body I thought I was fine. Now, years later I have been dealing with what doctors tell me is Costochondritis. The left side of my chest is completely swollen, the sternum feels aslmost as if it swollen itself as well (left side of it). It is a constant ach that sometimes radiates to my pecs and arms, but the worst pain is the ribs. It feels almost as if a rib is broken and is going to puncture something. I'm at a loss of what to do, doctors tell me to constantly take an anti-inflammatory which I will not do anymore since it won't get rid of the problem and only numb the symptom. PLEASE let me know if you have had any relief or any progress, this has been taking over my life recently. Thanks!

    ally

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    • Posted

      Hello Alzbinz,

      Appologies for the 11 month delay in my reply. I'm sorry to hear you have experienced a similar problem to myself. However, I do bring some good news and hopefully some peace of mind. Since I posted this I have become significantly better. I don't know how long it took to heal but after this my chest pain began to ease off and it would usually only be a small niggle from time to time. The downside to this is that I still get the niggle 3 years after the crash and about 2 years after my costochondritis diagnosis. I'm afraid the costo will never go away for me but everyone's pain and 'flare ups' are usually quite different. However, I did have some nasty side effects from taking anti-inflammatory medication which made me stop completely. I was diagnosed with gastritis after falling very ill whilst in my 1st year of University. I didn't know what it was, only that I was in severe pain and discomfort, as if I had a tight band around my ribs and chest, it almost felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The doctor told me my stomach was swollen and to stop taking the medication immediately. I'm not saying you should do this also, always talk to your doctor but beware that long term use of anti-inflammatory medication can damage the lining of your stomach and cause ulcers, bleeding and can be very serious.

      After that I used a microwave heat pack whenever I had a flare up, which was significantly less than when I posted my comment above.

      Now, a few years on, it does still bother me ever now and then but not as half as much as once before so there is hope! I don't take any medication now though, just heat relief. It usually bothers me in the cold or after exercise, but don't let this put you off doing any. I've found that I am a lot healthier, stronger and happier not letting the pain take over. I horse ride, swim, been on 2 field trips with University since the crash and I feel amazing. 

      I hope this helps, I hope you feel better soon.

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  • Posted

    I also have a similar pain and googling shows many others with the same symptoms.  I was in a head on car crash, no air bag, burse from seatbelt and steering wheel (which I bent).  Seven months on and I still have a pain in my chest where the seatbelt burse was.  There is also an indentation in my soft tissue that follows the line of the seatbelt, just under my left chest, with the pain emanating from the top of this, close to the sternum.  Twisting and bending cause the most pain.

    All eight x-rays I had after the crash proved inconclusive, they were blurry.  I went to the doctor again a few weeks ago and was told its a war wound so expect it to give problems in the future.  The other problem I have is even if I keep busy and ignore the pain, I stop breathing properly, which leaves me short of breath.   This was at its worst five days after the accident, when I had to go back to hospital struggling to breathe.  Breathing exercises help.  I had to sleep upright for the first week or so, because the pain from lying down or getting back up was too much. 

    The solicitor dealing with my compensation claim is insisting I see a chiropractor, so hopefully I’ll get some answers.   The ‘almost’ drunk ex-pat OAP driver that hit me was offered a driver awareness course, so no points and no ban for driving on the wrong side of the road after being to the pub. 

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    • Posted

      An up-date to what happened to me:  It was diagnosed as Costochondritis by one doctor, so I was sent to see a rheumatologist who arranged an MRI (almost 2 years after my accident).  Turned out to be a fractures sternum. A few weeks later I had an operation, with 2 titanium plates and 26 screws.  That was last year.  The fracture went into the 3rd coastal joint which is still giving me pain.  Waiting for a CT scan and a decision whether it needs fusing or not. Over 3 years since the crash and I’m still in pain.  Don’t accept a diagnosis without an MRI or CT scan, because X-rays are not that great.  If a doctor says “I think its…” insist they do tests to prove it.
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    • Posted

      I just came across your reply. I have been searching and trying to figure what is going on with my chest pain. I was in a car accident 11 months ago and the pain is still horrible. Diagnosed with costochondritis. Went to physical therapy months ago and it didn't help. I have been trying to ignore it thinking the pain will go away eventually. It's pretty bad when you don want to even hug some. Finally went to doctor again and he wants to test for immune diseases plus an X-ray which never happened after the accident to look at my rib cage. I had a MRI of my head and neck right after accident but not to chest. And my chest is what hurt the most. So all I have to say is wow.

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    • Posted

      You need to insist on a CT scan or MRI. The black and white image is of my fracture on an MRI almost 2 years after the accident. It didn't show on any x-rays. The brown image was made from the CT data at the beginning of June. MRI didn't show my ribs and this wasn't obvious the on the x-rays (also note the two plates and 26 screws).  Still waiting for a doctors opinion on the CT scan.  When you have an MRI, CT or x-ray you can get the data on CD for £10 (thats per CD so get your previous ones at the same time). There are a few free programs that can display the data and even make a 3D model (e.g., RadiAnt). 

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    • Posted

      I have been in the same situation, a lady drove head on it to my car on the wrong side of the road with an 80mph impact. She will only get 6 points or a course. Dispite the fact she could of killed my whole family. Immediately my left side ribs started hurting as well as my coccyx. I have awlful pain across my chest - it hurts to breathe. I have an X-ray on my coccyx this week and I had an X-ray on my ribs the day of the accident. 

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  • Posted

    I am amazed to read that your experience is so like my own.   I was rear-ended by a large box truck in January.  The seat belt kept me from being thrown thru the windshield, I am fairly sure.   At first I didn't feel anything except a heaviness where the seat belt crosses the breastbone - and I had a major headache!  The chiropractor helped so much with everything...headaches, neck pain, left shoulder pain, but the chest pain persisted.  My M.D. sent me for chest x-rays, did an EKG, bloodwork, etc.   The xrays were normal, the EKG was normal, and I have pain that keeps me from breathing deeply.  (Red blood cell count up because of that.)   I am only 5 months into this and if I have to continue at this pain level (age 63) then it's really a show-stopper for me.  I love to work.  I love to be active.  Every day I feel like a tight band is around my chest.  I get pain really uncomfortable between my shoulder blades.  That's why I was sure the xrays would show something.  Chest Wall Injuries.  Who believes that?  I am at a loss, but at least I feel better knowing others have actually verified such symptoms.  I wish you all the best for your healing.
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    • Posted

      I'm sorry to hear you have experienced a similar problem to myself. However, I do bring some good news and hopefully some peace of mind. Since I posted this I have become significantly better. I don't know how long it took to heal but after this my chest pain began to ease off and it would usually only be a small niggle from time to time. The downside to this is that I still get the niggle 3 years after the crash and about 2 years after my costochondritis diagnosis. I'm afraid the costo will never go away for me but everyone's pain and 'flare ups' are usually quite different. However, I did have some nasty side effects from taking anti-inflammatory medication which made me stop completely. I was diagnosed with gastritis after falling very ill whilst in my 1st year of University. I didn't know what it was, only that I was in severe pain and discomfort, as if I had a tight band around my ribs and chest, it almost felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The doctor told me my stomach was swollen and to stop taking the medication immediately. I'm not saying you should do this also, always talk to your doctor but beware that long term use of anti-inflammatory medication can damage the lining of your stomach and cause ulcers, bleeding and can be very serious.

      After that I used a microwave heat pack whenever I had a flare up, which was significantly less than when I posted my comment above.

      Now, a few years on, it does still bother me ever now and then but not as half as much as once before so there is hope! I don't take any medication now though, just heat relief. It usually bothers me in the cold or after exercise, but don't let this put you off doing any. I've found that I am a lot healthier, stronger and happier not letting the pain take over. I horse ride, swim, been on 2 field trips with University since the crash and I feel amazing. 

      I hope this helps, I hope you feel better soon.

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  • Posted

    GM

    i have a few suggestions

    i have severe costocondritis after a palmetto bug landed in my face in the middle of the night while sound asleep I jumped off the bed and l hard e floor result in in severe costocondritis as well as several fractures

    it has been four weeks

    i am only taking Aleve twice a day

    Was prescribed Morphine for two months but had a very bad reaction

    what am I doing which I feel is making a digpfference

    1.  Per my pulmonary MD I am following a very strict anti inflammatory diet

    You can google what that is...

    2  Only one cup of coffee then a large mug of ginger tea later in the morning made from fresh ginger

    3. Heating pad on low setting twice a day

    4. Really restricting my conversations..for me, that is very hard

    5. Doing deep breathing in for three counts and out for eight counts for

        15 min while I walk slowly around the pool

    6 I don't know whether this helping but it is essential to getting me through this Green and Black Organic 85% cacoa...8 squares a day

    Thr MD says three months to omelet elr heal and as I am concerned bout it becoming chronic, am following the plan to a T

    PS Understand the pain like a knife in the sternum when you laugh or cough so I guess both of those are out right now

    Good luck from Florida

     

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  • Posted

    ah 4 yrs later mmmm wondering if pain still persists with your injuries...

    ?yes I am another car crash victim, blind corner nose to nose, he forgot what country he was driving in, I broke the steering wheel and the bag deployed after we hit..  burst lungs and soft tissue damage whip lash bla bla ..long story short nearly 2 years and still scary pain going on....I am guessing after this long there aint much hope...still looking for something to help other than injections ( in my case not long lasting effect)..

    like you looking for answers....

    cheers

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