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Floating Rib Syndrome Is Probably Causing Your Rib Pain

floating-ribs-locationI`m not a huge fan of the term “floating rib,” it implies that the rib is just floating around in the abdomen and not doing much. In reality, these set of ribs are heald in place by numerous attachments, even though they are not directly attached to the sternum.

There aren`t a lot of “disorders” commonly affecting these ribs, but there is one which can cause pain in the floating rib area and its called Floating Rib or a Slipped Rib Syndrome. Another common cause of pain in this area is an injury.

What Is A Floating Rib And What Does It Do?

Sure, we`ve all heard of “regular” ribs, a long, curved bone which attaches to the spine, at the back, and to the sternum, at the front; but a floating rib only attaches to the spine and not the sternum.

In total, there are 12 pairs of ribs in our rib cage:

  1. True Ribs – 1-7 attached to spine and sternum via costal cartilage
  2. False Ribs – 8-10 attached to the spine and costal cartilage of the seventh rib (not directly to sternum) and
  3. Floating ribs – 11-12 attached to the spine only

Though most people have two pair of floating ribs, some may have only one or as much as three.

The precise function of these ribs is still a sort of a mystery, but the current theory is that they provide a bit of extra protection to the internal organs. As you can see for yourself, this is not the best or the most viable theory, so some speculate that these ribs are remnants of some earlier stage in our evolution.

In any case, their function is not 100% clear but they can cause certain health problems. And we are going to discuss them in the following section.

Floating Rib Syndrome

floating-rib-painThough some author`s make the distinction between floating and slipped rib syndrome, they are basically the same. Other common names for it are slipping rib cartilage, nerve nipping, clicking ribs and rib-tip syndrome. This syndrome is less widely known, so identifying it and diagnosing might be a bit tricky.

The best way to diagnose this condition is to do a manual palpation or by hooking the fingers under the ribs and pulling forward. It is also not that uncommon to ask for an X-ray of the affected area to check the correct position of the ribs.

The main characteristic and symptom of floating rib syndrome is, of course, the pain. Patients suffering from it feel the pain at the front of the floating ribs, which intensifies with movement or deep breathing. The pain is usually localized on the left or the right and can vary from a mild ache to sharp, stabbing sensation of pain spreading across the rib cage and abdominal wall.

The most common cause of this syndrome is a traumatic injury. Patients will usually recall some sort of an injury after which they started to experience pain.


There is no specially designed treatment for this condition. It is usually enough just to recognize it and administer a proper use of analgesics. Doctor might also instruct the patient to avoid and movement or positions which will intensify the pain.

In more severe cases, (more severe injuries) partial immobilization might be required. And if the rib pops out of its socket and becomes dislocated, physical adjusting and manipulation will help correct its position and return the patient back to normal.

The pain usually lasts for several months before healing completely.


17 Possible Causes Of Pain Around The Belly Button

Pain around the belly button is not something to be taken lightly, the pain of any kind for that matter. Of course, in most cases, the pain is benign, but there are cases when it can turn into something a bit more serious.

So if you find yourself experiencing pain in this region, you should seek out medical help just for the peace of mind; especially if your pain intensifies after common daily activities such as bending, leaning, stretching, running, playing sports or even sneezing.

In the following paragraphs, we will be discussing the nature of this type of pain, its most common causes and offer some actionable suggestions for treating it.

The Type Of Pain

One of the first things you need to take into consideration is the intensity of the pain itself. Does it increase when moving, and what movement causes the most intense pain? Also, is the pain sudden and intense or would you characterize it as mild and annoying? The exact location of pain is also incredibly important, and we will discuss it as we go over the most common causes.

Noting these little things and telling your doctor know might speed things up and help them make the correct diagnosis.

Facts On Pain Around The Belly Button

  • Health problems such as appendicitis, ulcers, and Chron’s disease can cause pain around the belly button.
  • Women can experience belly pain during pregnancy, due to menstrual cramps or as a result of an ovarian cyst.
  • This type of pain can also be present if a patient is suffering from urinary tract infection, has gallbladder problems or a stomach flu.
  • Pain around the belly button can also be caused by a benign condition such as constipation, food poisoning or a hernia.
  • Anyone taking medication can experience belly button pain due to its side effects. Also, this pain will often be present in those who undergone abdominal surgery.

1. Constipation

Constipation is a common condition, affecting people of all ages and both genders equally. Being constipated means, you can’t pass a stool regularly or be unable to empty your bowel completely. Medically speaking, constipation is “diagnosed” when a person has three or fewer bowel movements per week.

You will also notice some changes in your stool, it will become hard, lumpy, unusually small or large, and may smell bad.

Fortunately, people experience acute constipation(a short lasting constipation); but there are those who are suffering from chronic constipation as well. Chronic constipation can cause significant pain, discomfort and affect your life in a negative way.

What Causes Constipation?

In most cases, being constipated means there is something wrong with your diet:

  • You are not eating enough fiber – fruits and vegetables
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Resisting the urge to pass a stool may also cause this problem
  • Constipation may also be a side effect of certain medication
  • But it can also be caused by anxiety or depression

How To Prevent And Treat Constipation

Treatment usually involves some lifestyle changes such as increasing your daily fiber intake, drinking plenty of water and exercising.

Your doctor might also prescribe some laxatives and, though they will give you an instant relief, know that establishing regular bowel movement may take months.

As for prevention, it mostly revolves around correcting your diet and make sure you don’t resist the urge to go to the bathroom when you feel it.

2. Pain Around The Belly Button After Surgery

Pain around the belly button following an abdominal surgery is not at all uncommon. After all, surgery is an invasive procedure, and our body needs some time to fully recover from it.

The pain itself might range from very mild to an intense, sharp sensation; but the most important thing to note here is that the pain will go away on its own after your body recovers fully. Until then, you can take pain medication should you require any.

So should you seek medical help? If the pain is bearable, you might want to steer clear of doctors (besides regular checkups) but you should definitely consider paying them a visit if you also experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain that is becomming more and more intense

3. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix and is one of the most common causes of pain around the belly button. At first, the pain will manifest itself in the middle of your abdomen and then “travel” to the lower right-hand side, so the pain is actually felt under the belly button.

When should you call your GP? Generally, most people avoid contacting their GP at the first sign of pain, but if you feel the pain starting to get worse, you should seek medical help.

Other Common Symptoms Of Appendicitis:

  • Fever – fever alone is not a reliable enough to diagnose appendicitis on the spot, but if it’s combined with a severe abdominal pain, it may serve as a solid indication.
  • A pain that is getting worse – most patients agree that the appendicitis pain is unlike anything they ever felt before; it is strong enough to wake you up in the middle of the night! On top of that, the intensity of the pain is rapidly increasing.
  • Bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation – we all get bloated from time to time (especially when we don’t pay much attention to what we eat), but if you experience bloating in the morning as soon as you wake up, something might be wrong. Bloating can also become worse as the time goes by, and also cause pain around the belly button.
  • Pain to touch – since appendix is located in the lower right area of your abdomen, you can press it and gouge your reaction. Intense pain should be a clear indication something is wrong

The exact cause of appendicitis is not yet fully known, but it is considered to be some blockage at the entrance of the appendix.

Most common treatment is appendectomy – surgical removal of the appendix.

4. Ulcers

According to the statistics, about one in every 10 American develops an ulcer during his/her lifetime. Ulcers commonly appear in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and up until the mid 1980s the conventional wisdom was that they are caused by stress, excessive stomach acid secretion, and poor lifestyle.

Recent theories suggest that the number one culprit is a certain bacteria, along with other factors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and
  • Caffeine
Excessive coffee drinking might cause ulcers

As for the symptoms, there are cases where ulcers do not cause any symptoms at all. Having said that, the most common of an ulcer is a pain felt between the navel and the breastbone.

They are usually treated with medication and changes in the lifestyle.

5. Indigestion – Upset Stomach

Also known as dyspepsia, is a common clinical condtion seen in patients with gastrointestinal problems. It commonly occurs during or after eating and it can range from mild discomfort to an intense pain. Its symptoms are:

  • Burning sensation or pain in the area between the navel and the breast bone.
  • Unpleasant feeling of fulness after the meal is done

Indigestion may be caused and triggered by a number of different factors, some of which are:

  • Weight loss
  • Drinking too much alcohol or smoking tobacco
  • Eating too much/too fast
  • Greasy, spicy foods
  • Stress can also cause indigestion
  • Gallstones
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcers etc.

When To See A Doctor?

Though indigestion is not a serious problem in itself, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately:

  • Jaw pain
  • Chest pain
  • Heavy sweating and anxiety
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Intense, sharp pain around the belly button
  • Vomiting or passing blood in the stool

6. Can Hernia Cause Pain Around The Belly Button?

A hernia occurs when soft tissue protrudes through a weak point in the abdominal muscles. It usually presents itself in a form of a bulge on either side of the pubic bone.

A hernia is not dangerous by itself, BUT if it does not go away on its own, it can lead to specific complications. If it does not go away on its own, your doctor will likely recommend surgery.

The pain is usually felt under the belly button, commonly in the groin area and it can intensify when bending over or coughing.

7. Crohn`s Disease

Crohn`s disease is a condition that causes the inflammation in the lining of the digestive system. Though, the exact causes of this disease are not clear, there are some contributing factors:

  • Genetics
  • Previous infections
  • Smoking and
  • Various environmental factors

Most common symptoms might include diarrhea, mucus, and/or blood in the stool, fatigue and abdominal pain around the belly button. It is important to note that there will be times when the disease will present with only mild symptoms, but it can then flare up and cause serious health problems.

8. Ovarian Cysts

A cyst is a fluid-filled sack basically, and an ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sack located on the ovary. In most cases, these cysts are benign and most women have them at some point in their lives. Of course, there are cases where the cyst turns out to be malignant (cancerous) but these cases are rare.

These cysts are usually small in diameter and may not present with any symptoms. But larger ones might cause some twisting in the ovaries and cause pain. Of course, the pain will be felt in the area under the belly button.

9. Urinal Tract Infections

Urinal tract infection, or UTI, is an infection involving kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. If the infection affects kidneys or ureters, the patient might experience severe symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and
  • Pain

The infection in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) will present itself with less severe symptoms.

The infection is usually treated with antibiotics, but you should always seek medical help, rather than trying to deal with it yourself!

10. Gallbladder Problems

Problems with gallbladder are usually caused by some infection or passing stones. And even though passing stones might cause excruciating pain, you will be happy to know that as much as 90% of all sufferers rarely feel pain at all.

If the patient does experience pain, it is usually located under the rib cage on the right-hand side. Some other symptoms are:

11. Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a gland located behind your stomach, and its main role is producing the digestive juices which facilitate food digestion. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the very juices and enzymes it produces start to attack the tissue causing swelling and eventually lead to scarring.

Most common causes of pancreatitis are:

  • Pain in the center part of the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice and
  • Weight loss

12. Stomach Flu

Flu infected woman
Stomach flu can cause pain around the belly button

Stomach flu refers to swelling and the inflammation of the stomach and bowels from a virus. Physical examination is required for properly diagnosing it. The health care provider will usually look for the following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure and urinary output
  • Sunken eyes, lethargy and an overall exhaustion of the body

Common symptoms are pain around the belly button (abdominal pain), nausea and diarrhea.

13. Medication Side Effects

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you are on any specific medication, you need to be aware of the possible side effects. Of course, your GP will take care of this, but should you experience pain in your abdomen you should let them know.

11. Food Poisoning

This is an ever-present danger, especially if you eat fast food often. If the food was not properly stored or it was stored in the unsanitary condition it can lead to food poisoning.

If you did suffer from food poisoning, you will likely vomit within the first several hours. You might also experience pain and discomfort in the area around your belly button.

14. Menstrual Cramps

Guys, feel free can skip this section.

Painful menstrual cramps may immediately before or during the menstrual cycle. And depending on the severity of the cramps, they can cause intense pain in the abdomen, that can spread as far as hips, lower back, and thighs.

Most common way of dealing with menstrual cramps are medication. You can also try placing a heating pad on your lower abdomen or lower back.

16. Pregnancy

Another common cause of pain in the navel area reserved especially for women.

Make no mistake about it, abdomen pain during pregnancy can be a symptom of a severe problem. This is why you should never try to diagnose yourself; it is always better to seek professional medical help. Of course, seeking medical attention is advised if the pain is severe, sharp and if it lasts for more extended periods of time.

Most common benign belly button pain during pregnancy is induced by the changes in the round ligament of the vagina. As the name suggests, this ligament is located inside your pelvis, on either side of the vagina.

As the pregnancy progresses, this ligament is being stretched out and becomes thicker. These changes and occasional spasms are whats causing this pain.

The pain usually starts in the second trimester and is more intense on one side. Though it may seem dangerous (as it is sharp and intense), it is harmless, it doesn’t last very long, and only appears when you change positions (get up, sit or lie down or a cough).

When You Should Call Your Healthcare Provider

Though round ligament induced pain is harmless, there are other causes of pain around the belly button during pregnancy that can indicate a more serious health problem. So, how do you spot the difference?

The main characteristic of this specific pain is that it doesn’t last very long; you usually only experience it when changing positions. Other types of pain may be longer in duration and should you experience them; you should consult with your doctor.

17. Heavy Workouts

And not just heavy workout, there is also sudden twisting or bending motion, intense stretching, weight lifting or any other strenuous activity. They can all cause pain around the belly button.

Here you can use your common sense and “feel” to determine if the injury is severe enough to call your doctor or is it something minor that just requires rest.

Last updated: June 20, 2018 at 20:53 pm

Last updated: June 20, 2018 at 20:53 pm

Xiphoid Process Pain – Anatomy, Causes and Treatment


The xiphoid process, also called xiphosternum and metasternum, lies at the level of 10th thoracic vertebrae. It is also the lowest and the smallest part of the sternum, marks the lower limit of the thoracic cavity and the lower border of the heart.

At birth, the xiphoid process is cartilaginous, but it slowly ossifies (turns to bone) from the central core after middle age (usually around 40 years of age). It is connected to the sternum via xiphisternal joint, which lies at the level of the 9th thoracic vertebrae; in older age, due to ossification, sternum and xiphoideus might fuse together 1.

Where Is Xiphoid Process Located?

As we already said, xiphoideus process is the most inferior (medical term meaning situated below, downward 2) region of the sternum. It is an important anatomical landmark of the thorax which some medical professionals use to properly place their hands for CPR.

Anatomy And Attachments

Despite its size, xiphoid process plays an important role in providing anchor points for large muscle groups, ligaments, and rib cartilage:

  • At the top the xiphoid process articulates with the lower end of the sternum body, forming a faucet for the cartilage of the 7th rib (see the image above)
  • Its anterior surface (anterior – medical term meaning in front3 ) supplies attachments to the anterior costoxiphoid ligaments on either side, and a small part of rectus abdominis (a pair of long muscles stretching across the abdomen, “abs”)
  • Its posterior surface (posterior – medical term meaning behind4 ) supplies attachments to the posterior costoxiphoid ligaments, diaphragm, and Transversus thoracic muscle
  • Its lateral surface (lateral – medical term meaning a body part that it further from the center of the body5 ) supplies attachments to the aponeuroses of the abdominal muscles (a sheet of tendons that the muscles “use” to attach to each other and to the bones)
  • At the bottom, it gives attachment to the linea alba (a fibrous structure that runs down the middle of the abdomen6 )

Clinical Significance

Though xiphoid process is quite small and may seem insignificant, it is a vital landmark for:

  • CPR – you can use xiphoid process to determine where exactly you should put your hands during cardiopulmonary reanimation
  • Distal margin of the heart
  • Superior end of the liver
  • Central tendon of the diaphragm
  • Distal, anterior end of the thorax
  • Subcostal angle – angle between the lower borders of the costal (rib) cartilages (you can palpate it yourself)

Causes Of Xiphoid Process Pain

Most common causes of pain in and around the xiphoid process are physical injury, GERD disease, and xiphoid syndrome.

Physical Injury – Swollen, Sore Or Broken Xiphoid Process

Even though the bone is quite small, in case of a fracture it can get detached from the sternum and pushed down towards to the diaphragm and even the heart; for this reason patients with any sort of chest injury (from collision or impact to the thorax) need to be checked out by medical professionals.

Injuries and fractures can also commonly occur when inexperienced individuals attempt to administer CPR. Two of the most common mistakes are:

  • Applying too much pressure – thorax is quite strong, it is designed to protect some of the most important structures and internal organs, but it has its limits. Applying too much pressure can easily cause dislocation or even bone fracture.
  • Wrong hand placement – if you place your hands too low on the sternum, you might fracture xiphoid process, even if the pressure is optimal. You need to move your hands towards the center of the sternum, between the nipples.

There was also an interesting case of a 66-year-old man who was presented with an abdominal pain, tenderness and pain in the middle of his chest7. The X-ray revealed an abnormal elongation of the xiphoid process. It was later determined that the xiphoid process was broken, pulled down by the abdominal muscles, elongated and later reconnected with the sternum.

The patient then underwent surgery and the process was shortened.

Xiphoid Process

Xiphoidalgia – Xiphoid syndrome – Xiphoid Process Pain When Pressed

Xiphoidynia, also known as the xiphoid syndrome, is a condition where the patient feels pain and tenderness in the lower portion of the sternum. There are some opposing opinions on the frequency of this condition since some researchers think it is rare while others object by saying it is often overlooked.

One of the reason it is commonly overlooked is presence of another, more severe medical condition8, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Bone disease

The main characteristics of the xiphoid syndrome are intense, sharp xiphoid process pain when pressed, intensifying pain when bending over or twisting and tenderness to touch. In more severe cases, the pain can radiate to back, neck and shoulders and become so intense patients will feel nauseated9.

GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease

GERD usually occurs when stomach acid starts flowing back up the food pipe (esophagus) because a band of muscles at the end of the esophagus does not close properly. This irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes GERD10.

So what does stomach acid have to do with xiphoid process pain? Well, the location plays a vital role here. The esophagus is located behind the windpipe (trachea) which runs just behind the sternum. So the very proximity of these structures is responsible for pain manifestation in this region.

Xiphoid Process Protruding (Sticking Out) After Losing Weight – Tender On Touch

Protruding xiphoid process is generally not that common (in adults), but people who lose a substantial amount of weight tend to complain about this problem. In some cases, patients feel no pain whatsoever, while, in others, the area feels tender, painful and sometimes swollen.

So what is the cause of this protrusion in overweight people? If you read the entire article, you probably noticed the case of a 66-year-old patient with abnormal elongation of the xiphoid process. And, as you could see, it was determined that the Process was broken, pulled down by the abdominal muscles, then elongated and reconnected with the sternum.

A common cause of this fracture is trauma, but it can also be caused by a vigorous physical activity where the rectus abdominis pulls on the xiphoid process and causes fractures and/or dislocation.

A more likely cause of this protrusion, however, is visceral fat (fat found within the body). In obese people, this fat can put additional pressure to the internal organs and the rib cage itself, causing it to expand; and, since xiphoid process is cartilaginous, it can easily get pushed out of its place and stick out. And as the person loses more and more weight, the XP becomes more noticeable.

Most doctors agree that this is not the cause for any concern, on the contrary – its completely normal; but if you experience any sort of pain or tender xiphoid process on touch, you should talk to your GP for just in case.

Xiphoid Process Pain Treatment

Of course, there is no one correct solution for xiphoid process pain. The treatment will largely depend on the cause of the pain and the condition which lead to the pain.

Doctor will usually start by giving the patient some analgesics, to relieve pain. In more severe cases, where the analgesics don’t work, steroid injections might be employed as well.

Applying heat and ice will also help relieve pain and swelling; changes in diet and light exercise will help with GERD and if there is any sort of anatomical abnormality (like in the case of our 66 year old) surgery might be required.



Last updated: May 25, 2018 at 20:36 pm

Heal Your Rhomboid Strain With 6 Simple Exercises

Reviewed on 8/20/2018 by: Hugh Hugh K. Duckworth, MD

A rhomboid strain may not seem like a big problem at first, but it can quickly become a long-term, a chronic condition that can affect your lifestyle – the way you sit, stand, lift weights, or just cause that annoying pain that just won’t go away.

The goal of today’s article is to help you learn more about the anatomy of the rhomboids, the origin and the cause of the pain, how to accurately diagnose it, and offer some practical exercises you can follow to help yourself.

Rhomboid strain is a term used loosely to describe a stretch or a tear in the muscles. Another common condition involving these muscles is known as rhomboid spasm – this is a sudden, involuntary tightening of the muscle which may result in muscle knots.

The rhomboid muscles are a deep set of muscles of the upper back. They connect the medial edge of the shoulder blade to the spine.

Rhomboid Muscles – Location, Attachments and Function

Image 1: Rhomboid Muscles

First of all, notice we said “muscles” instead of “muscle”; many people make the same mistake not knowing that there are two rhomboid muscles in our back:

  • Rhomboid major (large) and
  • Rhomboid minor (small)

Rhomboid Major

Rhomboid major arises from the spinous processes of the second, third, fourth and fifth thoracic vertebrae (Spinous process is a bony projection off the back of the vertebra, it can be felt under the skin 1) and attaches to the triangular surface at the root of the spine of the scapula (scapular spine is a bony prominence which divides the back surface of the shoulder blade into two portions).

Rhomboid Minor

Rhomboid minor arises from the spinous processes of the seventh cervical, first thoracic vertebra and lower part of the nuchal ligament (ligament located at the back of the neck formed of supraspinosus ligaments) and attaches to the triangular surface of the scapular spine.

Muscles Functions: the main functions of these muscles are:

  • To stabilize the scapula and hold it onto the rib cage
  • Retract the scapula – pull it towards the spine, and
  • Elevate medial border of the scapula

Definition – What Is A Rhomboid Strain?

Rhomboid muscle strain is an injury in which muscle fibers are torn or overstretched. A muscle can also go into spasm – an involuntary contraction, which may result in knots. This strain will not only cause upper back pain, it can also limit shoulder and neck mobility.

How Does It Occur And What Are Its Common Causes?

Rhomboid strain is most commonly caused by shoulder and arm overuse. Activities which are known to cause this muscle strain are:

  • Lifting your arm above your head – serving in tennis of stacking things on higher shelves for instance
  • Carrying a heavy backpack – carrying a heavy backpack can cause rhomboid strains and spasms but it can also promote poor posture (if the backpack is too heavy or if it is worn over one shoulder)
  • Rowing – either in the gym or participating in the sport
  • Poor posture – poor posture (sitting at your desk or at your PC) will may weaken your muscles, put additional strain to them and lead to back pain. You can find out more about posture here – Good Posture Can Change Your Life
  • Lifting things off the ground – when lifting (heavier) things off the ground, you should always use your legs rather than your back. Intense, sudden lifting can pull the muscles of the back and cause strains and injuries


Your healthcare provider will first take your medical history, specifically asking about any similar shoulder or upper back injuries, and any potential co-existing diseases that could affect or be responsible for your pain. You will also be asked to provide more information regarding the circumstances of the injury – when did you first experience pain, are there any other symptoms, what activity you were involved in when you injured yourself or if you play sports.

Then comes physical examination (palpation) of your shoulders, upper back and area around the inner edge of the scapula. The doctor will also ask you to move your arm to determine the range of motion and the extent of the injury.

Rhomboid Strain Symptoms

The most common symptoms of rhomboid strain are:

  • Pain between shoulder blades – this pain is usually felt between shoulder blades and the spine (since this is where the muscle is located); it can get worse when moving your arms
  • Pain when taking deep breaths
  • Palpable muscle knots
  • Tenderness in the upper back area


Since these injuries are usually not severe, they are treated non-surgically: treatment usually involves a combination of exercises, stretches and over-the-counter medication (to ease intense pain). If the injury is less severe, recovery process might take only a couple weeks, but if the damage to the muscles is severe, it may take up to 6 weeks or even longer.

Home Treatment

To shorten the recovery process, it is advised to start treating rhomboid spasms as soon as they occur. You can relieve pain and swelling with:

  1. Ice packs – you can use ice packs, crushed ice, gel pack or even some frozen foods, wrap it in a cloth (to avoid direct skin contact) and hold for 20-30 minutes. You should repeat this process every 3-4 hours, in the first couple days
  2. NSAIDs – your healthcare provider will usually recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain and inflammation; most common ones are: ibuprofen or aspirin. Make sure you use correct dosage the doctor specified and take them with food since they may damage the lining of your stomach
  3. Heat – heat is is good for relaxing tense muscles and breaking those tight muscle knots. You can place warmed towels on your back or opt-in for a heating pad. NOTE: do not apply heat if you notice swelling, heat is not usually helpful with infections, only muscle spasms
  4. Self-massage – massaging yourself is tricky enough but when it comes to upper back, it is close to impossible. But you can use a tennis ball: place your ball on the floor and lie over it so that it presses the muscles of your upper back; then roll the ball gently over the tense muscles of your back. Alternatively, you can buy a back massager for breaking up knots in your back. One of the best ones on the market today is Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager! You can find out more about this weird looking device on Amazon.com if you Click Here

Stretches and Exercises

Before engaging in any stretches and exercises for rhomboid strain relief, you should consult your doctor. You need to determine your capabilities, severity of the injury and the best exercises for your specific condition. After that, you can employ the ones we outlined below:

Upper-back-stretchesUpper Back Stretch:

  • Stretch your arms in front of your body and clasp them together
  • Reach forward and bend your head
  • Feel the stretch in your upper back and neck and hold it for up to 30 seconds
  • Repeat up to 5 times

Variation: if you want a “more intense” stretch, instead of just extending your arms, grab onto something and lean back.

Neck Side Stretches:

  1. Stand in a neutral position, facing forward
  2. Tilt your head to the side (towards your shoulder)
  3. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, repeat up to 5 times on each side

side-arm-stretchesSide Arm Stretch:

  1. Raise your left arm (shoulder height) and bring it to the opposite side of the body
  2. Raise your right arm and bend it across the left and pull
  3. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times with each hand

Kneeling back Stretch

  1. Kneel down and bring your body to the floor
  2. Extend your arms in front of you
  3. Reach forward as much as you can and stretch your upper back
  4. Hold for up to 30 seconds, repeat 3-5 times


Range of Motion Exercises

  1. Stand in a neutral position, your arms at the side of your body
  2. Lift your shoulders up and hold for about 5 seconds
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades and hold for 5 seconds
  4. Pull your shoulder blades down and relax
  5. Repeat 5-10 times

Door Frame Stretching

  1. Stand parallel to the door frame
  2. Reach the right side of the frame with your left arm
  3. Lean to the left and feel the stretch
  4. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat a few times with each hand


NOTE: HelpYourBack.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Last updated: August 20, 2018 at 9:20 am

Black Specks In Stool – Should You Be Worried?

black specks in stool
Believe it or not, the color, texture and the smell of your stool can say quite a bit about your overall health. Of course, you might not be interested in judging the quality of your poop on a daily basis, but spotting black specks in your stool could be a cause for concern.

The color of our poop usually depends on the food we eat, the condition our GI tract is and whether or not there is a problem that requires medical attention (bleeding, ulcers etc). As you can see, black specks in stool don’t always point to a medical condition, but learning more about its causes can help you figure out whether you should visit your doctor or not.

Stool Properties

As we previously stated, our poop has 3 distinct properties:

  • Smell
  • Texture and
  • Color


We can all agree that poop doesn’t have a pleasant smell at all, this is because it consists of undigested food, dead cells, mucus, and bacteria that produces foul smelling compounds rich in sulfur and nitrogen.

Some unpleasant smell is, of course, normal but a particularly strange, strong smell is not normal and should not be ignored.

You should also keep in mind that the smell of your stool can change due to certain medication, infections and if you’ve been constipated for some time.


Without getting into too much detail, we are going to go over some of the most common poop textures:

  • Solid, sausage shapped – a solid sausage shaped poop is normal and is usually a sign nothing is wrong
  • Solid but separated and lumpy – this is still a sign your poop is in good shape but it indicates you are lacking fibers and fluid. Drinking more water and adding some veggies to your diet should take care of this problem.
  • Watery, with/without solid pieces – we all know what this is – its diarrhea. Diarrhea usually means there is an infection going on and your body is trying to flush it out. This is where I see most people getting it wrong, trying to “hold it in” and taking constipation meds, but this is just the opposite of what you should be doing. Your body is flushing out the infection and you should aid it as much as you can, but try and stop it. Just make sure you drink plenty of fluids and try to find something interesting to do while sitting on the toilet :)
  • Soft and sticky – if your poop is soft and sticks to the toilet it means there is too much oil in it. Having too much oil in your stool could mean your body is not absorbing fat properly and it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.


The color of your stool can pinpoint a specific medical condition or “tell” you that there is something wrong with your diet. Here are some of the most common stool colors:

  • Brown – natural brown color is usually a good sign that nothing is wrong.
  • Yellow – yellow poop is usually very smelly and may be indicative of a problem with fat absorption. If it starts appearing more often, our advice is to consult with your doctor.
  • Green – color green will generally depend on your diet – whether you are a lot of leafy vegetables; so it’s generally not a cause for concern.
  • White – white or light colored poop is, of course, not normal and it can sometimes be due to the medication you are taking but you should definitely see a doctor about it.
  • Dark – dark poop or black specks in your stool could mean you are bleeding somewhere in your GI tract or that you have an infection. It can also depend on the food you ate and, in more severe cases, it could be a symptom of cancer.

Causes Of Black Specks In Stool

Now that you’ve learned more about your poop, it is time to go back to the main topic of today’s article – reasons you are seeing back spots and specks in your poop.

Blood from the GI tract

When talking about black specks in poop, most people usually suspect blood, but this is not always the case and here is why.

Bleeding from the upper GI tract will be subjected to the digestive processes still, causing these blood specks to diffuse and “sink deeper” into the poop. As a result, there will be no visible black specks on the surface.

Bleeding from the lower GI tract will produce some distinct spots on the surface of your stool but they will be red in color.

In conclusion, bleeding from GI tract will not normally result in black spots in your stool but, since blood turns black when digested, it may sometimes happen.

Blood from the Small Intestine and/or Stomach

Taking medication can sometimes damage the lining of your stomach or intestine and cause bleeding. Ulcers can also cause bleeding in these areas resulting in small, black dots appearing on the surface of your stool.

If you notice these tiny specks, you should see a doctor.

Food we Eat

food and poop color
Food will have a major saying in the color and texture of our stool, so before you even begin to worry, think back to what you’ve eaten that day and see if it might have caused these dark specks and spots.

In most cases, black specks are caused by something as simple as undigested seeds, pieces of dark green vegetables, blueberries and blackberries, undercooked red meat, black pepper of coffee.


In some cases, when bacteria and parasites die off they can pass through and appear as black specks in your stool. There are also some bacteria that are found in the colon may also cause these spots as the body attempts to flush them out.

Cancer and Polyps

Polyps are growths, usually benign, that can grow and cause bleeding and eventually turn cancerous.

As for cancer, colorectal cancer is one of the more common cancers in the US, and one of its signs is blood in the stool…

Iliac Crest Pain – Causes, Treatment and Prevention

hip anatomy
Image 1

Iliac crest pain is not that common in the general population, but it is frequent in older individuals, runners (and athletes in general), lower back pain sufferers… But that doesn`t mean “regular” people like you and me can`t experience it from time to time!

The pain is usually sudden, sharp and varies in intensity; it can be felt along the iliac crest, but it can also extend all the way to the spine, along the sciatic nerve path, through the hip and all the way to the groin area.

Pinpointing the exact cause and location of the pain is crucial, it will set you on the right track and speed up your recovery. For this reason, we decided to really go in-depth, cover the anatomy of the Iliac crest, causes of pain, diagnosis and treatment.

Iliac Crest Anatomy And Location

The Hip Bone

Pelvic bones
Hip Bones

The hip bone is a large, irregular bone which forms the bony front and side wall of the pelvis. It consists of three parts1:

  • Ilium
  • Ischium and
  • Pubis


Ilium is the largest part of the hip bone and it`s commonly divided into two parts – the body and the ala (Latin for a wing). We could go into great many details, exploring the ilium bone, but there is no need; all we are interested in is the part stretching between anterior superior and posterior superior iliac spine – the iliac crest. You can see these, along with some other, structures on the image below (you will notice we outlined these three structures with red):

Ilium bone anatomy

Causes Of Iliac Crest Pain

Some of the most common causes of iliac crest pain are:

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction2

A sacroiliac joint is a place where the sacrum and iliac bone join together, in the forming of the pelvis. Since this is one of the most important supportive joints of our body, it does not allow a lot of movement.

Some of the main reasons for SI joint problems are:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Arthritis
  • Pregnancy
  • Different leg length
  • Trauma

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction usually manifests itself in the form of:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Pain and discomfort when sitting or standing for longer periods of time
  • Hip pain and
  • Pain along the iliac crest

Iliac apophysitis

This is a condition which causes inflammation and pain along the iliac crest. The Iliac crest is a place where abdominal muscle attaches and regular strenuous activity can lead to temporary muscle weakness and inflammation.

Common symptoms of iliac apophysitis are:

  • Pain which gets worse during exercise, sports sessions or any similar physical activity
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness and
  • Increased temperature in the iliac crest area

Gluteus Muscle Problems

Since gluteal muscle group attaches in this region (along the iliac bone), tightness and aggravation in the muscle can cause pain and discomfort just below the iliac crest. Pain and discomfort in this area can interfere with walking, reduce the range of motion and limit flexibility in the hip joint.

Trauma – Hip Pointer

Hip pointer, also called iliac crest contusion, is an injury caused by a direct blow to the pelvis, a bad fall at an iliac crest, or a collision (when playing a sport). The injury damages the blood vessels, which bleed into the surrounding tissue and cause bruises (skin gets that black and blue look).
Most common symptoms of hip pointer are:

This is usually not a severe condition and it will go away in a couple weeks, with proper treatment.

Illiolumbal Syndrome

Iliolumbar syndrome involves an inflammation or injury of the iliolumbar ligament, a ligament which stretches from the spine to the iliac crest.

It is generally caused by repetitive bending and twisting motion, which irritates this ligament and causes inflammation. Telltale signs of this syndrome are:

  • Pain in the pelvis, hip and along the iliac crest area
  • Referred pain in the groin and/or rectal area
  • Tenderness
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain after longer periods of sitting

Iliac Crest Burning Pain

In some rare cases, patients with burning pain or numbness in the outer part of the upper thigh are diagnosed with Meralgia paresthetica. This is a neurological disorder where the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (which supplies sensation to the surface skin of the thigh) becomes compressed by the inguinal ligament, due to weight gain, tight clothes, local trauma or disease like diabetes.

The pain will usually worsen on hip flexion or when walking or running, and may even radiate to knee level.

The symptoms of this condition are usually kept under control with medication, but in some rare cases patients may require surgery to relieve the pressure and eliminate the pain.

What Can You Do For Iliac Crest Pain?

Some people will head straight to the doctor`s office at the first sign of pain while others might look for ways to treat their condition at home. There is no right or wrong here, you can try and access your general condition and decide whether you need professional help, or you want to try at-home treatment.

Here are some of the things you can do yourself:

  • Stop the activity which is causing pain – this pretty much goes without saying, but there are cases where people force themselves to push through pain (like runners trying to finish a race), which is not a very good idea.
  • Rest – resting will give you some time to evaluate your condition, see if the pain is becoming more intense or going away. If it does not go away on its own, call your doctor. It will also give your body time to heal itself.
  • Icing – icing the affected area will calm the inflammation down, relieve pain and reduce swelling. Make sure you don`t apply ice directly onto your skin, wrap it in a piece of cloth and then apply; around 15 minutes, couple times a day.
  • Stretching – approach stretching with caution, depending on the cause of pain. Gently stretch the muscles of your leg and core, and if you feel pain, stop before making it worse.

Best Iliac Crest Pain Exercises And Stretches – Iliopsoas Muscle

Iliac crest pain can also be induced by problems with the Iliopsoas muscle. Watch the video below for more information on the muscle itself, its anatomy, and some good exercise and stretching exercises aimed to release the tension and the pain:

Medical Treatment

If the pain does not go away after couple days, or it starts to intensify, you should turn to your GP for help. Common medical treatment for iliac crest pain are:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Injections to the affected area
  • Physical therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Range of motion exercises or
  • Surgery

Iliac Crest Pain Prevention

Taking good care of yourself and your body might prevent iliac crest pain in the first place, sadly, most people don`t put a lot of emphasis on prevention and end up in pain. If you want to avoid this discomfort, you should:

  • Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear – feet are the foundation of our body, which is why taking care of them is a must; and good foot care starts with well-fitting shoes. You should pay extra attention to your shoes especially if are a runner or play sports on a regular basis
  • Use tracks for running – of course, many of us don`t have the luxury of running on good quality running tracks, but at least make sure you find a nice, even stretch of road… You should also avoid running uphill or downhill, at least until you heal completely
  • Warm-up properly – this is where most people get it wrong, they just take off and start running without warming up their muscles, joints, stretching, or getting the blood flowing. This is a huge mistake and can have severe consequences, even muscle rupture. Also, you need to cool down and stretch after you are done with physical activity

Last updated: May 26, 2018 at 7:58 am

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