Torn muscle? Excruciating pain? Try exercising…

Vic mazonas writes…

Women in my family all tend to have very large chests. Mine started developing early and, at 23, I am still growing. I was a 36F 12 months ago. I’ll probably be around a G or GG by the time stop. This growth continues even when I diet and lose weight. I dropped down to a size 10-12 about 3 years ago, when I was still an E cup, and my breasts gained a cup size in that time.

As a result, I’ve developed an arched spine from having to twist my body around my chest. Having breasts this large affects everything about the way I move my body, and until recently I never found a sports bra to fit me, leaving aerobic exercise too painful on my chest. I lift weights to keep myself fit, instead, and swim.

I have suffered from mild back pain for years now. It comes and goes, but about 6 months ago it became really quite awful. I woke up with mild stiffness in a small area of my left shoulder-blade. By the end of the day I could move my right arm fully, my left arm from the elbow down, and my legs so long as I didn’t try to move my hips too much. The rest of my body from neck to pelvis had locked up and I was in awful pain. After 2 days like this I had an appointment to see my doctor.

I was told that my back had locked out because I was fat. I was in pain because I was fat. I was told to take painkillers, apply heat patches and creams, and to lose weight. In the meantime, I was barely able to walk let alone work out, and I certainly couldn’t go to work in this state, so I was signed off.

[Editor’s note: Vic also included that she weighs about 155 pounds and is 5’2″]

Fortunately for me, I decided I wanted physiotherapy to help. I had 2 weeks off of work waiting for my first appointment, during which time I drastically cut my dietary intake to help with weight loss and to compensate for the lack of exercise I was getting.

My physiotherapist turned out to be a wonderful man who actually listened to me. He clearly didn’t trust the diagnosis I had been given and immediately quizzed me on my lifestyle whilst massaging and pummeling my shoulders ready for some stretches.

As it turns out, my weight wasn’t the cause. At least, not all of it; just the part on my chest. The part that stays big however skinny the rest of me gets. Having a large chest affected my posture. I don’t slouch like other people, because it’s painful, so my back was never relaxed at all. My lower back was too curved from me leaning to correct for weight. My sleeping positions, all convoluted and twisted to allow comfortable breathing space and arm positions, were damaging my back.

Poor fitting and cheap bras weren’t helping much, either, as my chest was being supported by the shoulder straps primarily. All this weakened my back which meant that, when an over-enthusiastic set of weight-lifting with too-large weights caused me to tear a muscle, my body couldn’t cope and my back locked up to try and get me to LAY STILL long enough to heal.

A 30 minute long massage followed by my physio teaching me an easy set of stretches to do daily meant that I was back at work within 3 days, have never suffered back problems so severe again and can weight train again. I got some advice on how to improve my posture and finding better sleeping positions and I’ve been in great health since. If I hadn’t seen that physiotherapist, I would have been off of work much longer, and probably would have developed a repeating, serious back problem.

To be honest, though, most of my doctor’s visits are like that. I’ve gone in with a repeating chest infection and my doctor simply refused to treat/diagnose anything because he wanted to discuss my weight with me. I’ve had blood poisoning more than once and have been told it was because of my “unhealthy lifestyle”, not because I got cut at work from a dirty carving machine and the wound went septic.

I just… don’t go to see my doctor any more.

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15 Comments

  1. I’ve had blood poisoning more than once and have been told it was because of my “unhealthy lifestyle”, not because I got cut at work from a dirty carving machine and the wound went septic.

    **gasp**

    So glad your physiotherapist has a clue, anyway.

    Reply
  2. littlem

     /  January 20, 2008

    To me, that’s the kind of misdiagnosis that deserves a letter to the original doc’s supervising hospital, with copies to
    a) the AMA;
    b) the local newspaper.

    To start.

    But then, I’ve been called confrontational like that.

    Also glad your physio has a clue, and that you’re feeling better.

    Also, if you’re in NYC, I’d love to know who your physio is.

    Reply
  3. Hey littlem,

    Unfortunately, I’m over in the UK, so unless you fancy moving over to Blimey I can’t help you😉

    Reply
  4. Anyway, the blood poisoning thing… I still got the right treatment for it (ie, antibiotics through drip) so I don’t think I can really complain about that beyond “my doc is mean” so, y’know.

    Reply
  5. fillyjonk

     /  January 20, 2008

    Yeah, but figure, what about the next person who comes in with blood poisoning or an infection and gets it put down to “unhealthy lifestyle,” but actually believes it? She might not come in the next time it happens, figuring that it’s her own fault and being ashamed that she couldn’t keep her lifestyle healthy enough to avoid a recurrence — or she might think she could cure it by dieting. Part of the reason it’s a doctor’s job to give accurate information, unbiased by personal prejudices, is that not everyone knows about medical stuff or has access to good information. Scaring them off of doctors through shame is not helpful.

    Reply
  6. What you need to do is find ANOTHER DOCTOR. Not all drs are like that and you aren’t locked into just one. Interview them like you would someone applying for a job when you go in for a physical and see how they are. For some reason people are loath to leave horrible doctors…they are providing a service to you just like anything else. If they are not providing an adequate service, then change service providers.

    I also have to say I have to same issue with my bust line. No matter how much weight I lose I never lose in my chest and if I gain any weight back that is the first place I gain. I have looked into getting a breast reduction (I am on my way past a GGG cup myself) and one of the first things they say the dr will tell you is to lose weight. 😦 I also have chronic back problems and have issues finding a bra that fits correctly (why do manufacturers feel that large chested women *must* be super big women with a band size of 50+ I have no clue…my band size is a 38) so I have the same issue with my LEFT shoulder as well! I have stopped wearing bras because all it does it cause me agony and at the time of this comment I am pregnant…so I can’t even take anything for the pain. 😦

    If you have any suggestions, please email me what you did so maybe I can get relief as well!

    Reply
  7. Geogrrl

     /  January 20, 2008

    Report that physician and find another doctor. It’s not only fat prejudice, it’s laziness and greed. I’ve met other doctors like this–move ’em in and move ’em out. Get as many patient visits in a day as you can, so you can rack up those office charges. I’ve had experiences like that that did not center around weight. Instead, the doctor seized on whatever solution was the fastest way for them to dismiss me, then pushed me out of the office. I report physicians like that and try to make sure other people are aware of their practices.

    Reply
  8. Exactly, FJ. That’s why this doctor’s behavior is absolutely outrageous and out of line. It’s even more outrageous than most “lose weight and condition X will go away” prescriptions, because an untreated infection, if it spreads, can kill you within days. Infections are NOT to be dicked around with like that, and body fat has NOTHING to do with them, unless the person literally is completely immobilized solely by their fat (very, very, very rare) and is getting bedsores/chairsores from it. Any health professional who was actually paying attention in class knows that.

    And since Bunny is not even “obese,” just not reed-thin, it makes me wonder if this dude became a doctor because of a fantasy of being surrounded by girls who look like models all day long.

    Reply
  9. And since Bunny is not even “obese,” just not reed-thin, it makes me wonder if this dude became a doctor because of a fantasy of being surrounded by girls who look like models all day long.

    Meowser – that’s why I put the editor’s note in specifying Bunny’s stats. She barely registers in the overweight category and her doctor acts as if she’s morbidly obese. It just makes the doctor’s reaction so much more ludicrous.

    Reply
  10. Sounds like this writer need to get a new doctor, stat! (Actually she needed one a long time ago, inho, like right after he refused to treat her repeat chest infections and only wanted to discuss weight issues!)

    Reply
  11. Hey Sandy,

    Well, the easiest and biggest difference was the stretches and massages. Straighten out both shoulders- get a friend to hold them back and down if you need it, and tip your head to one side like a confused puppy- get t as far as you can and HOLD 15 seconds, then do the other side. Do this regularly. Also, lots of massages.

    Ooh! And for you I would recommend Bravissimo bras… their range gets more limited the higher the cup size but the stock almost all smaller band sizes and the like… seriously, since discovering them and Ballet I’ve had less bra problems.

    That said, I always have a little discomfort, but definitely an improvement!

    Reply
  12. Wait… I’m not obese? I thought my stats put me at borderline for that? Damn, 11.5 stone is, like 155lb, right?

    Reply
  13. 161lbs, Bunny.

    Reply
  14. Tinyredcar

     /  January 31, 2008

    Bunny,

    I went through my whole life feeling the same way as you – I’m huge in the chest area, but not particularly in any other place, and have had back and shoulder pain off and on for years. And I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I could never find a decent bra to help take the load off my back either. I asked my doctor if she could recommend somewhere to buy a good bra for a 34FF size, and she just said that large breats were related to obesity and then moved on to another subject. I felt like crying – especially because I’m pretty careful about what I eat and I exercise every day. But I sort of just resigned myself to uncomfortable bras and back problems until somebody at work recommended biggerbras.com and figleaves.com (or figleaves.co.uk), two online bra stockists that have such a huge range of sizes in gorgeous, comfortable, stylish bras that I was completely amazed. I particularly love Freya, Fantasie and Pour Moi for supportive, sexy bras. Anyway, I can’t believe that your doctor was so rude and insensitive. I would try to find a place to put the word out about that doctor, if I was you.

    Reply
  15. raven

     /  February 13, 2008

    i’d love to hear the sleeping positions your pt recommended! i’m a 34k here and i have the worst time getting comfortable when sleeping. and, like you, i never lose any weight in my chest and it seems to keep just getting bigger and bigger. i’m 35 now and it hasn’t stopped yet! of course, that’s b/c i’m FAT!!!

    Reply

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