shortness of breath from compression

Hi, I have suffered aproximately 9 compression fractures in my spine (over the course of 5 or 6 years). As a result, my chest cavity has compressed and my lungs and diaphragm are constricted. I cannot take a deep breath . I always feel out of breath. My fractures are too old to be treated surgically and I am already doing the stretches and exercises and all that. I was on heavy duty narcotic painkillers for 5 years and they actually helped the breathing problem sigificantly. But I just recently got off of them and do not ever want to go on them again..I wondered if anyone who has this prroblem has found any relief with any other method/medication. I am only 28 yrs old and do not want to live the rest of my life trying to breathe...

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You might ask your doctor about the use of a thoracic spine brace which can help open up your chest and allow you to breathe more easily.

I do not wear mine all of the time because I don't want to give up all of my trunk strength, but it helps to wear it part of the time. I also sleep in a recliner chair as it is easier on my spine and ribs


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Hi Kalessa. I'm very sorry to hear about this problem. I wonder if you ever have the sensation that you are being squeezed around the diaphragm area, or have the sensation of having a "stitch" in your sides on either side--even in the back--just under the ribs.

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis last January and I think I've been a bit in denial about it. I am not taking the meds for osteoporosis, because I'm terrified of them, and because I have underlying conditions that I'm not 100% convinced will not be a problem if I do take them. I do know that I can't tolerate the oral meds because of my history of erosive GERD and family history of esophageal and stomach cancer.

I finally went and picked up a copy of my T scores yesterday--from the DEXA scan I had last January. I am due for my second scan at the end of this month and I've been relying on exercise, diet, and supplements. The dr. that was treating me last year, and who sent me for the first scan, wanted me right on Reclast. I refused it. She was angry with me, and she refused to send me for other tests to try to find out what might have caused the osteoporosis so I found another dr. He agreed that I should not be on Reclast, and that I wouldn't meet the criteria anyway. I'm only 49 and have not tried other treatments first. I have a neuromuscular disorder, amongst many other health issues, and I fear that Reclast would be very bad for me.

I noticed that my T-scores were around -1.7 and 1.8 in right and left femurs. The only abnormal one was in the lumbar spine, which was -2.5. I have been experiencing a crushing sensation in my diaphragm and the sensation of not being able to get a deep breath. Along with this comes a feeling of a "stitch" just underneath the rib cage that wraps all the way around to the back. This sensation used to be intermittent, starting about 3 years ago, but now it never goes away. I would not say it is overly painful, but it does make me feel like I have to get in just the right position to get a good breath. Physical activity makes it worse. As I sit here in my Lazyboy chair I find I have to arch my back somewhat to get a good, deep breath.

I was always thinking that I had the osteoporosis in my sacrum, where I have a lot of pain--especially in my hips. Now that I see the bad score is in the lumbar spine, and not the sacrum at all, I'm worried that this sensation is due to the osteoporosis. I also have hemangiomas in the lumbar spine, which are, supposedly, benign tumors. I have to wonder if there is a correlation between the hemangiomas and the osteoporosis. They say the hemangiomas are nothing to worry about, yet, they ARE tumors and they do push on nerves--and who knows what else they do. I had an MRI without contrast because I am allergic to the dye. I am now afraid that I may have fractures that couldn't be seen in that MRI.

Your post has made me decide to pursue this further, and I wonder if a CT scan would show detail in the lumbar spine. I am not allergic to that dye. I am nervously awaiting my next scan.

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Hi Shawnmarie,

My father had that exact sensation. He complained of not be able to take a deep breath and also the "stitch" around his diaphragm with his compressed fractures. He had 2 in the lumbar lower back area, and he had 2 in the upper thoracic area. The fractures in his upper spine seemed to cause his breathing and "quick" pain in his abdomen.

Unfortunately for him , he let his Dr. bully him into having the Reclast infusion. He refused it at first, but when the Dr. kept telling him that it was the only thing that could help him, he agreed to take it.

That decision cost him his life. He could get around and live fully by himself before Reclast. The only thing he took for pain was Tylenol. 3 days after the Reclast, he was in terrible pain, 2 weeks after Reclast he was in the emergency room, on heavy pain meds. He never again was able to care for himself, and he finally died 54 days after his infusion.

You have made the right decision.

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That is terrible! I can't even believe that Reclast is still on the market. How can it be? It has to stop!

I will NEVER take it--I don't care who gets mad at me about it. I would rather have a pissed off doctor and be alive, than die from Reclast. I will deal with the pain and discomfort in my own way.

I am so sorry for your loss.

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I'm new to this site. I have been fighting with my doctors for over a year because I am refusing Reclast! It is because of this site that I refuse the drug.

I still cannot get my doctors to believe that Reclast has serious side effects or death. I have just begun, with the help of hubby, to copy some replies and posts from this site to hand deliver to my doctors.

I even had an argument with a sister-in-law who said her friend had the "shot" of Reclast and did just fine. I told her that Reclast is an infusion! That people may become very sick with side effects and that some have died....she told me I was crazy.


I am so sorry to acook4 for your terrible loss. It is tragic when someone is following the advice of their doctor only to become a fatality. In is honor...preach to everyone about this drug and the potential consequences.

I have read the repeated story of the husband who lost his wife to Reclast. That story is why I have refused the drug.

Thank you for your honesty and for sharing stories that are sobering but that do help others.


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Keep fighting Bobbie45..
I know that there are people that have taken this drug, and haven't had serious side effects, but there are many, many people that do have serious side effects. There is no taking it back after you receive it. That is the most disturbing thing. I can't tell you how many ER doctors told us that there was unfortunately nothing they could do to help except try and manage the pain. Sometimes pain is only one side effect, you may experience many side effects like my father.

This seems like insanity to me, until these Drs. start sticking the needles in their veins and taking this drug, they should just keep their arrogant mouths shut!!!

The stats on these drugs aren't even very impressive. The only sites that show noticeably positive results are the drug company sites.

Look into Vitamin K2 do some research,. there are alternatives. I plan to do alI can to warn people about these type of drugs.

FIRST DO NO HARM ... more Drs. should take this to heart!

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Hey guys, I got one infusion of reclast last year and have since decided to cease that treatment. (my doc says that at this point it should be all out of my suystem and so I need to start some form of treatment soon) In addition, I have decided not to take any bisphosphonates. I realize this may be a stupid plan, but my gut tells me that I need to look into other treatments. RIght now my vit D and calcium levels are good, however, that does not always translate to good, i'm wondering if you all have any suggestions..i've been looking into things, but i need to start some program soon.
In addition, regarding my original post about the shortness of breath and compression fractures; i would appreciate any other suggestions on what I can do to alleviate that.When I was on narcotics I had no problem with it, which i found odd because the breathing problem wasn't from pain it is literally because my chest cavity is now too small for my lungs and diaphragm. but I will not go back on narcotics. One of my docs mentioned that maybe the reason the narcs worked is because they dialte the bronchial tubes? anyone heard of that? and he mentioned looking into something that may have that effect. Although, I am not interested in going on another Rx, but maybe there is something else out there that could

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chi-gong w/ it's very deep breathing exercises have helped my shortness of breath & lung health after my breakages and have got me in the "habit" of helping my pain with deep breath as well. i really like jennifer kries & all she teaches.

(i, too, always feel majority of pain just under rib-cage)

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thanks n-ancy, I will look into that. I actually don't have much pain under the rib cage. When I do have it it is mostly in the thoracic spine area..but, regardless of whether I am experiencing pain or not, I consistently have trouble taking a deep breath. It's not painful, I just feel like i'm out of breath. It's like the feeling you get when you've just worked out or run a mile and you're trying to cath your breath, except ,when I am having this breathing issue, I never can (catch my breath).

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shawnmarie, I would highly recommend looking into the issue with your ribs, and potentially look at the hips, sternum, and thoracic spine area..a bone scan (or maybe an xray, although xrays often don't catch fractures) might be able to see stuff that other things can't or didn't pick up. Many years ago, before I realized I had rib and vertebrae fratures, I was having lots of pain in my ribs, chest and back area.. My docs dropped the ball and said it was no big deal and most likely part of my juvenile RA. at the time I was naive and my condition was a complete mystery to me and everyone that I had seen in the medical community. It was not until 4, 5, maybe 6 years later that i found out about all the fractures..had my docs listened to meand xrayed or something, a lot the damage and secondary medical issues caused by all these broken bones, potentially coould have been prevented. (not all of it probably, but the dominoe effect of the fractures might have been prevented, or not as severe). Sooooo, (sorry for my longwindedness) do not ignore the pain and discomfort you are feeling..find someone who will listen and look into it, if you catch it now you may be able to prevent irreversible damage. Believe me, we all know our bodies better than we think, and not one of us is the same. We do not all fit into the "this patient has osteoporosis" box. Things are so much more complicated, and even if we don't understand the science behind what our bodies are doing, we still intuitively know when something is not right....ok, that was my soapbox.

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Can you expand a bit on the "stitch" feeling? I can't imagine what that feels like.


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Have you ever had that little crampy, piercing feeling right up under your ribs or just below the ribcage? Some people get it when they run or work out the feeling moms always warned us about if we went into the water too soon after eating, which has since been proven to be a myth. Anyway, I know this feeling, as I have gotten that stitch feeling over the years, usually on the right side.

A real stitch from exercising apparently has to do with strain on the ligaments that attach to the liver, which is probably why the "stitch" used to feel better when I instinctively pushed up on my abdomen. I just read that the treatment for a stitch is to do that very thing--push up, and to prevent them, you're supposed to take deep breaths rather than shallow ones. When you breathe deeply, you are pushing down on the liver and when you exhale, you're pulling up and straining the ligaments.

I have that feeling all the way around my torso, not just on one side. I have it in my back, under my ribs too, which makes me think that this has to do with aconnective tissue problem, or with my neuromuscular disorder.

I hope that helps.

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There are a number of things that can be done. You can optimize your diet in several ways to reduce phosphorous, sodium, and caffeine. There are a number of supplements that help, starting with the very important Vitamin K2. Bones are also helped by extra protein, just not the high phosphorous kind.

You can also do exercises to stress the bones and cause them to become heavier. See twelve positions.

There are a number of good discussions here about Vitamin K2, magnesium, boron, and other nutritional factors.

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My doctor became very angry at me, also, when I refused to take the bisphosphonate drugs or Reclast. My last bone scan was said to show osteoporosis of my spine, although he never gave me the actual readings. He claims he has treated thousands of women with the drugs and none have ever had any problems. I find that hard to believe, because when I researched the drugs, I found story after story of horrible side effects and permanent damage. I think maybe he just never listened to their complaints!! He has me on 50,000 units Vit. D twice a week due to low blood level of Vit. D even though I was taking 2,000 daily and am constantly outside in the sun, working in the yard with no protection from the sun other than what's in my face makeup! I am very active, doing 2 to 5 miles walk/jog workouts daily. I am going to take my chances with continuing what I have been doing!!

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I had a compression fracture in 09 and was given a was helped me so much. I know what you are saying about being short of breath...if I slouch sometimes I feel like I cant take a deep breath...I also lay on the floor a night for about 30 minutes...that helps puts your spine back where it belongs...

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I am fairly new to this site & joined as it seemed to be a reasonably unbiased/nonpharm source of info. However, I've been surprised by the hugely anti-medication following on the boards.

I couldn't tolerate Fosamax, but have been on Reclast for 4 years now without a single side effect, and have improved my t-scores from definite osteoporosis to borderline & am remaining stable there (-2.4).

Anyone developing osteopenia or osteoporosis should carefully consider the benefit/risk ratios of the various treatments and not just take the negative view as a knee-jerk reaction. And realize that the problems will be reported on forums much more than satisfactions.

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Yes that helps a lot. Quite an education actually. Thank God, I've never had that feeling. I do get an ache around the ribs later in the day if I'm on my feet a lot. This is just osteoporosis symptom and since I've been working on my posture, that seems to reduce it.

Good luck with your health issues and take care.


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After I began generic drug for Fosomax, a few months later I developed a shortness of breath that some times feels like I can't get "over the hill" so to speak. It's more in my lower throat and it is alway with me to one degree or another. The osteo drug did this to me and (my last dose was April, 2009) so far, the feeling won't go ahead.

I might add that I had a lung function test and the results were: grossly normal lung function. Someone on the blog told me that her doctor said the feeling was due to too much stomach acid which pushes your stomach up against your diaphram. I also had an upper GI and there is no hiatal hernia.

Bottom line is: STAY OFF OF THESE DRUGS!

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Hi etinca. I think the reason so many posts here are anti-medication is because of the number of people who have had negative side-effects from bisphosphonates, and even death from Reclast.

While I agree with you when you say that people shouldn't just jump the gun where medications for osteopenia and osteoporosis are concerned, I do believe there are way too many doctors out there who are prescribing medications prematurely. Reclast for one. My doctor wanted me to take Reclast after I told her I called Boniva and told her I couldn't take the free trial tablets she gave me. I have a family history of stomach and esophageal cancer. She became angry with me when I wouldn't take it and it took leaving her, and finding someone who knew more about these drugs, to realize that I am not the only one out there who is falling victim to ignorant doctors. That is not to say that all doctors are ignorant, but it is very important that people know what they are getting into. It's important to know what your T scores are and just how at-risk you really are for fractures.

There is a real problem with a doctor telling someone to get an injection of a drug that is administered only once a year--a drug that is not detectable in the bloodstream once it's inside the body--a drug there is no antidote for if a person has a serious reaction--when the criteria for having such a drug has not been met. For instance, I am only 49, I don't have a family history of osteoporosis. I have never broken or fractured a bone. I am pretty fit. I had never tried any other medications or treatments for osteoporosis. My T-scores are mostly in the osteopenia range, except for my lumbar spine, which is -2.8. I also have underlying conditions that could have contributed to osteoporosis, so it is very important to make sure that doctors are doing whatever they can to find out if something else is causing the osteoporosis, and if so, what.

My new doctor told me to stay away from Reclast. I have too many other issues that need to be dealt with first. He said he would never give Reclast to anyone my age, who is at very low risk of fracture and he would NEVER give it to someone who has osteopenia. He said that Reclast should be used as a LAST RESORT on people who have already had dangerous fracturing of bone. Now, that makes a heck of a lot of sense to me. There are people on this board who are taking this stuff unnecessarily and people really need to do their own homework.

I am not saying that people should not take drugs. There are people out there who have had many fractures and are at serious risk of further illness from osteoporosis. These are the people who should be taking the drug. The problem with these drugs is that it is not clear if the bone these drugs produces is actually strong bone. In fact, it is being shown that people are at further risk of fracture after using these drugs long-term. What does that tell you?

My gastroenterologist gave me several different drugs over the years to combat GERD, with erosion. Sometimes I had to chew up these horrible chalky pills that they give for ulcers, just so I could pass food and drink through my esophagus. I had it for years, and was at risk of having Barrett's esophagus (a pre-cancerous condition) and even worse, esophageal cancer later on. I took Axid starting in 1994. Then I went to Protonix and Prilosec. They had all stopped working for me, so my doctor doubled the dose. I had no idea that these drugs are known to rob your bones of calcium. I started to read about them and then I read that the very drugs I was taking could cause stomach cancer in patients taking them for over five years. I had been taking them for FIFTEEN years.

My chiropractor suggested trying DGL Licorice, a natural remedy for GERD and reflux. I bought some and tried it. After a couple weeks I noticed I didn't have pain in my esophagus anymore. A few months later, when I had my routine endoscopy, the results showed no sign of erosion--for the first time in YEARS. So, without drugs, and with a natural product that has no side-effects, I was able to reverse my GERD and can comfortably eat pretty much whatever I want. I am saving hundreds of dollars per month. The problem is, my gastroenterologist disagreed with my choice. He still thinks I should be taking the drugs. I'm sure he would rather see me taking the drugs and taking a bisphosphonate to counter the effects of the drugs he prescribes. Don't you see? It's all about the big cash cow called PHARMACEUTICALS.

I have not taken drugs for GERD in three years now. I pay the $11.99 per month for my DGL Licorice and have not had any sign of GERD, except for the occasional heartburn when I eat the wrong thing. My whole point to telling you this is that I know there may a time and a place for drugs, but prescriptions are not always doled out appropriately. People put way too much faith in pharmaceuticals. WAY too much. So much that those CEOs are relying on doctors to keep prescribing so they can keep padding their pockets.

While Reclast is listed as a way to prevent osteoporosis, I find it highly suspicious that they don't suggest trying NATURAL ways to try and PREVENT osteoporosis before embarking on a treatment plan that could cause serious, life-threatening symptoms. I realize that only a certain percentage of people who try Reclast have side-effects, and even fewer actually die after taking it, BUT, even one death is too many for me. And there are many more than that. I'm not willing to risk it.

I am very happy that you have not had any side-effects. I hope you have continued success and that you are stronger from taking it. But from what I've read, and what I know from those I've conversed with here in this forum, it will be a long time before I ever (if I ever) resort to bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.

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Hi ShawnMarie, I heard on the Doctors tv show,[?]. that the stictch could come from the diapharm, but maybe that is only for runners or fast walkers [?] Not a good feeling, I get them too.
I too, have a couple of hemangiomas in my spine. The smaller one in the lower back, the doctor says is growing too slow to bother me..the larger one in T7, is inside the vertebra and MRI shows it is causing the vertebra to thin out..and it could involve my spinal cord, with its Dr. says to NOT have surgery, since I have osteoporosis in other vertebra, and one Spine surgeon wanted to operate, put in metal plates, screws, etc. I am not a good risk for that kind of surgery, having had lung surgery for I am praying that the Lord will stop the growth....thankful that they grow slowly. One oncologist said he could 'TRY' to shrink it with radiation..but after he told me all the damage the radiation could cause me, I backed out!! The hemangioma is a huge blood vessel that got out of hand...The spine surgeon said to not fall or jar myself...not that I would plan on doing that. Life gets more interesting as I get older, and sometimes more complicated too. I am so glad people are warnng against Reclast and other osteoporosis dentist is against them for what they can do to the jaw bone, etc.

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