Patient: I am having pain in the middle of my back on the right side of my body, relatively even with my right lung. It feels more like a pressure-like pain than a muscle strain. Typically it is a dull ache when I sit still, but if I move at all it becomes a sharp stab. Breathing in more than half a breath also results in a sharp stabbing pain. I’ve had this for the past two days, and massage, heat, and having my husband pop my back has not helped. The pain has not increased or decreased in this time. I didn’t do anything strenuous that would have caused a strain. Is there anything I can do to relieve this pain, or should I see a physician? I’d like to avoid making an appointment if it can be helped, as I cannot financially afford it.
Doctor: If the pain that you described worsens with the deep breathing or coughing or sneezing, possibly you are experiencing a Intercostal neuralgia, which is not a serious condition but very annoying indeed and slow healing. By a spasm or a direct trauma the intercostals muscles and nerves got injured, and that’s why you are feeling that stabbing pain every time you take a deep breath, lean over, sneeze or cough. The suggested strategy would be: please, try to be patient and do not expect an overnight improvement, take anti inflammatory medication and also Vitamin B12 supplement. Local moist heat helps to ease the pain. An again, try to avoid activities that worsen the pain.