There is an excellent reason our chests are protected by a powerful cage of ribs and fascia ... to protect our life-sustaining organs, such as the heart and lungs.
When you have pain in the chest or thoracic cavity, you must certainly not ignore it. If there are accompanying symptoms down your arm, there may be something very unpleasant brewing in this vital area of your body, and you should seek a proper medical evaluation.
However, many times it is hard to track down the cause of pains and aches in the this scary body region. Thankfully, the field of trigger point therapy has offered many solutions to these otherwise enigmatic symptoms. Pain in the thoracic cage and chest are frequently the result of easy to treat trigger points in several muscles, rather than an indication of serious illness.
In this issue we are going to look at one such muscle that causes mysterious thoracic pain without a dangerous underlying cause. It is named the Latissimus Dorsi,
commonly called the “Lats
” (shaded in green in the image to the left). The Lats
are an important back and shoulder muscle you use in performing a “pull-up
Here is the referred pain pattern for your Lats
shown in red. The distressing pain centers around the lower angle of the shoulder blade (Scapula) and then often projects down the back and inside of the shoulder and arm down to the pinky and ring finger. Significant pain in the front of the shoulder is also common.
The symptom that makes this pain seem dangerous is that it doesn't respond to movement, position or stretching
, which causes medical professionals to suspect organ related illness. We usually expect a tight muscle or sore joint to feel different when we change position, whereas organ disease such as a tumor in the lungs would remain unaffected by position.
In the case of the Lats
, the referred pain shares more in common with an organ than with most other muscles. The suspected reason that this trigger point doesn’t respond to position is that the Latissimus Dorsi
is a long muscle with more than a usual amount of slack in it. The only position that really stretches it is reaching the arms very high overhead, such as when you are hanging from a pull-up bar. As a result, your doctor might run a number of diagnostic tests for organ disease before you realize that this is a simple trigger point issue.
Below are a few simple tests you can perform yourself to see if you have trigger points in your Lats
, as well as the solution to eliminating this pain and restoring full function to this pull-up muscle. Please also make sure you are evaluated by a qualified physician if you have chest or thoracic cage symptoms.
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.