The Hazards of a Hug (or When Bear Hugs Get a Little Hairy)

Warning:  Boring, whiny, self-indulgent post ahead.

I mentioned briefly in my last post that I had sustained a “small” injury.  Well, it was small in terms of the actual body part injured, but since that body part seems to be rubbing up against a nerve ending, it turns out to be large in terms of pain, which is getting worse instead of better. 

Hence, this post.  Those that know me well know that I have a very hard time asking for help, so the fact that I’m writing this is some measure of my desperation.  At the risk of boring you to tears, I thought I’d fling this into cyberspace and see what comes back.  Hopefully, this will be my first and last post seeking free medical advice.   :)

The way it happened is almost comic.  My brother and his wife had come to visit and were taking their leave.  We were out on the porch taking last-minute pictures and giving big hugs in the way of long, long goodbyes that Southerners are prone to.  Janet and I were giving each other a big, ole bear hug, when I felt something go Thwack in my chest.  It felt sort of like a fan belt broke loose—it hit my chest with that much force.

In fact, Janet felt it too and jumped back.  I clutched my chest in amazement.  She looked so stricken that my first words were to reassure her that it was nothing she had done.  Then I thought, “What in the hell was that?”

It did hurt, but mainly when I breathed deeply—at first.  And, no, the Thwack was not the sound like a rib breaking would make.  It was more of a big Snap against my chest, like a giant rubber band.

Here’s where I tell you that I have a well-earned aversion to doctors.  Except for when I clearly have a raging infection that only antibiotics will cure, I always take the Wait-and-See approach.  Our bodies have wondrous self-healing properties.

But now I’m hurting more than I did at first.  I am even considering taking the ancient Darvocet I found in our cabinet.  And I’m real stoical about pain.   (Endured long and difficult labors with natural childbirth without so much as a Tylenol or cuss word—twice).   But it hurts when I bend over, it hurts when I breathe, it hurts when I push or pull with my left arm, and it hurts when I rise up from lying down.  And not just in my chest.  Because of the compressed nerve, I think, it hurts both in my back and in my shoulder.  It’s sort of like someone keeps running me through with a sword. 

So I did Internet research and finally came up with a pretty certain diagnosis—I have  “slipping rib syndrome.”  I know, it sounds kind of silly, but that’s what they call it.  Apparently, one or two of my ribs have pulled away from the ligaments that usually hold them in place and the cartilage tip of the ribs are slipping upward and impinging on the intercostal nerves.  So my ribs are literally getting on my nerves.

I believe this is the result of a long-ago injury to my chest and rib area when I was taking care of my Mama.  She had Lou Gehrig’s Disease and was in a wheelchair.  I often had to lift her when other measures weren’t effective.  She weighed about 160 pounds, and I recall feeling something tear in my chest and hurt afterwards once when I lifted her.  So I think the seeds were sown then for this injury, and the chickens have come home to roost.  (Is that a mixed metaphor, or what?!)

Anyway, the purpose of this long and dull post is to find out if anybody out there has any clue what I should do to hasten the healing and ease the pain.  (If you’re still awake and reading, that is).  I’ve been taking the maximum Excedrin, as well as Valerian to relax my muscles and Glucosamine and Chondroitin to build up cartilage and connective tissue.  And when I am able to do so, I’ve been applying heat to the area. 

Please forgive me for whining.  And for one of the worst mixed metaphors ever in the history of blogging.  Apparently, being unable to breathe deeply has starved my brain of oxygen.  But I know you understand.   :)

76 Responses to “The Hazards of a Hug (or When Bear Hugs Get a Little Hairy)”

  1. lucky pennies Says:

    I’m so sorry. I have no clue what to do and I’m sorry I don’t. I’ve been praying real hard for you, though. It’s such a weird injury to get. I hope someone has a remedy.

  2. wesleyjeanne Says:

    I am so sorry. That sounds terrible. I wish I could advise you, but can’t. If you can get through the pain, I guess the best thing to do is rest and let it heal itself. But yuck.

    Oh…and natural childbirth without a curse word? I don’t believe it!

  3. marion Says:

    Fred First, the physical therapist from Floyd, might have a clue. He’s at http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com He’s Colleen’s dear friend. And the nicest fellow ever.

  4. CountryDew Says:

    Oh! I have this.

    Moist heat is the best thing. Do that for the first 24 hours, then start alternating between heat and ice.

    The other thing is to get a tennis ball and place it against the wall and then roll it down your spine, pushing hard against it as you do. Sometimes it pops the rib back in. I’d be very careful doing this if you’re not sure about it, though.

    The other remedies are either a massage or a chiropractor. If you have a massage therapist in your area, try that if you’re adverse to the chiropractor.

  5. June Says:

    Add me to the list of people caring about your hurt. Sorry, but I don’t have a clue, except I would be cautious taking any ancient medicines. Sometimes they just are ineffective; other times though, they morf into a derivative that can be dangerous. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Sara Says:

    I hate to be a stick in the mud, especially since I’m reading this kind of late, but I’d see a doctor about it. The internet is great but sometimes its worth it to be reassured by a medical doctor that it really isn’t something scary. Then you can get busy getting better without the stress of worrying that it’s something worse that you’re ignoring.
    Be brave! Feel better soon!

  7. Shannon Says:

    Hi Beth,
    Um, what about seeing a chiropractor? One did amazing things for my back at one point, and it is all natural. That sounds like something one could fix fairly quickly. Do know that many a times they do want to see you for more visits then are necessary I think………..take it on a visit by visit basis.

    Oh, good thoughts. Ouch! That even sounds painful!!!! Shannon

  8. colleen Says:

    We are very like-minded when it comes to doctors, allowing the body to heal, and doing our own research. I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with what you mention. I was enthralled reading it though — not bored at all. The part about sounded like a fan belt broke, you might laugh about later (when it won’t hurt).

    I woke up with some sort of TMJ jaw pain a few days ago (it only hurts when I eat). I was all set to go to my acuputucturist when I read how common it is and how usually it goes away on its own. Is what you have that type of thing? Something that tends to heal on its own?

    I’m going to ask Fred to come over and make a house call.

  9. fred1st Says:

    Weird. My wife goes to the doctor today with similar sx–but not slipped rib, just costochondral injury along with some muscle strain. Almost two weeks ago the dog pulled her down a steep rocky hill chasing a feral cat that came down the tree and ran right in front of 80 pounds of yellow lab. She couldn’t let go of the leash, and got a pull on her shoulder that exceeded the weeny muscles ability to resist.

    Problem with this kind of injury is that x-ray will only rule out rib fracture, it won’t confirm this kind of laxity or inflammatory condition. I can’t speak for chiropractic abilities to “fix” this kind of thing. I do understand that once established, it can take a long time for this to heal on its own. And the sx can be quite distressing as they impact breathing (including–oh NO!–a dreaded sneeze or cough) and can involve chest pain as well–never a comforting sensation in someone my age.

    In your situation, my advice in the short run (which you’ve probably already figured out) is avoid push-pull-carry-lift and try ice application and stay otherwise as active as you can (walking etc) and not overly “guard” the involved side or other secondary problems (muscle trigger points) may set in. Bummer. A hug injury. It is NOT a just world, eh?

    If my wife’s doctor sheds any light on her situation, I’ll let you know.

  10. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    A big thanks to everyone for your kind words and good advice. I am doing somewhat better, with the pain at a more manageable level, though it still hurts to breathe and use my left arm and hand (which is a little inconvenient). I am hopeful that with time, my body will knit itself back together. If not, I will consider other alternatives. I will, in the future, be a little more cautious about bear hugs! Remember–always practice “safe hugs!” :)
    Thanks again, y’all.

  11. ben (aka guitar maniac) Says:

    Well I’m glad you’re feeling a little bit better, and it sounds like you got some great advice :-). But you will always be in my prayers.

  12. Becky Mushko Says:

    Myofascial release might help. It works on the connective tissue. Ruth Mitchell in Moneta works on me (currently really helping my heel spur!) and my horses. Her web site is http://www.equinetherapeutic.com. She fixes people on Mondays; other days she does horses.

  13. Lisa Says:

    Oh, I have this now, and found you looking for solutions on the internet. I can attest to the fact that it is very painful! I have a whole new appreciation for people who have had broken ribs!

    The chiropractor did help, yet there is one rib that stubbornly stayed loose. This might be because I didn’t lay down all day, the day of the adjustment. I’m trying to work with it, hoping it will go back on it’s own. If not, I’ll be back to the chiropractor Monday, and will be much more careful after the adjustment. Also, after the adjustment, I soked in a tub with epsom salt.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions!

  14. Pam Says:

    I think you have correctly diagnosed it. I would not bother seeing a family doctor because if they can’t see it under a microscope, on and x-ray, mri or some other expensive test then they think it must not exist. My Chiropractor did know about slipped ribs and I don’t know what I would have done without him.

  15. Nora Says:

    I am sorry to hear of your pain and as you can see by the date of my reply the only reason I would be looking this up..same thing happened to me. My bear hug was from an old friend with big strong arms. He hugged me so hard and lifted me and my feet were off the ground. I heard a pop..thought it was my underwire bra. …hurt a little but within 24 hours I am in horrible horrible…did I say horrible pain. Everyone says it is my rib and nothing can be done….but jez..we can put a man on the moon, but doing nothing for this. It’s been 12 days now and I can’t do anything but lie down, if I can find the position that works….I can sit for a while. However getting dressed or moving my left arm or leaning..I feel a lot of pressure and pain in the area.

  16. Dee Says:

    Ouch sounds like that hurts. Don’t ever let a doctor tell you there’s nothing you can do. That just means “I don’t know.” Not sure if this will help this issue, but since it appears to be ligament related, maybe try finding a prolotherapist. I used it for my neck injury (ligament related) and it is the only that’s helped. I was in serious pain, too – it was horrible and it had been 2 years of chronic pain before I found a prolotherapy doctor. Just make sure you find a good one…one affiliated with the AAOMED.org is a good start.

    Good luck

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Thank you for your advice, Dee. I’m so glad that you’ve found help for your neck injury—I know from experience how difficult chronic pain can be. Even now, almost three years later, I still suffer some pain from my rib injury (though it is much less severe). I had read on the internet about prolotherapy, but after finding out that insurance doesn’t cover it, I realized that it wouldn’t be an option for me. The bitter irony is that we pay so much for our health insurance that it leaves us unable sometimes to even afford the co-payments it requires. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment—you are very kind.

  17. jenn Says:

    This just happened to me this morning – a huge guy hugged me so hard and then SNAP and I could hardly stay standing. He told me to just breathe but it hurts to take a deep breath. Unbelievable! I had no idea this could happen.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Jenn. My heart goes out to you—-I know how horribly painful this can be. I decided to comment because I did want to say that I’ve found ibuprofen to truly be the most helpful in relieving both the inflammation and the pain. Also, I wanted to reassure you (and anyone else who might find this post in a search) that for most folks who are unlucky enough to have this problem, the pain resolves itself in a matter of months or even weeks for a lucky few. As you can see from the comments, lots of folks have gotten relief from chiropractors, too. Anyway, I do hope your pain is soon better. Every single time I get another comment on my post here, I say a prayer of healing for that person because I remember all too well just how much pain this injury caused. And I have done that for you (and for all others who’ve commented).

      All the best, Beth (blue ridge blue collar girl)

  18. Lori Says:

    Beth, I just really wanted to thank you for your post. The same thing happened to me Saturday night when a bouncer I know lifted me up and hugged me and I heard alot of cracking noise. Went to urgent care in the morning and they said no broken ribs, I must have bruised them. The pain is unbearable on my left side, the only comfortable position is standing or sitting up on the couch. They gave me muscle relaxers, hydrocodone and told me to take ibuprofin. I was hoping this would be feeling better in a week but I guess now I am looking at weeks/months. Thank you again as no one believes how much pain I am in from a simple hug.
    Lori
    Charlotte, NC

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Lori, my heart goes out to you! Even though it’s now been five years since my injury, I still recall clearly the intense pain I had afterwards. And I also recall how people seemed dubious that I could hurt that much if my ribs weren’t broken. Even doctors seem to be unaware of how severe this injury can be. The good thing is that, from what I’ve heard from others and read on the internet, most of the time the pain goes completely away eventually. In my case (probably because my rib area was already injured from lifting my bedridden mama), I still have some pain and have to take ibuprofen regularly, but it’s pretty mild now. I do have to avoid certain activities. And also people who hug too enthusiastically. :-)

      I do hope you are soon completely healed and free of pain. As you probably read above, many folks have been helped by chiropractors, so that might be an alternative for you, since doctors seem oblivious to how serious this can be. I will say a prayer for your healing. All the best to you, Lori…

      Beth

  19. Lirraine Says:

    I can’t believe how many people get hurt from bear hugs! Add me to the list. About 5 days ago, mymson-in-law bear hugged me lifting me off the ground and I heard what sounded like bones clicking together and immediate pain to my left side rib cage. When I take a deep breath, it hurts, when I lay down at night, it’s the worst. Turning over in bed is painful too. It’s hard to tell where the pain is coming from because when I press the top of my rib cage under the breast area, it hurts, but I feel it all across my left side. Can’t believe this is going to take weeks to heal. I didn’t know I was so fragile but then again I guess quite a few can feel my pain!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      I’m so sorry about your injury, Lirraine. My heart goes out to you. From what I’ve read (and my own experience) I think the widespread pain is likely the result of a nerve ending being pressed on by one of your ribs. I did want to say that I have read of some folks’ injuries healing even more quickly than in weeks—I do pray that will be the case for you! I do recommend ibuprofen. My understanding is that it’s the best thing for inflammation.

      All the best to you…and prayers for quick healing.

      Beth

  20. Julie Says:

    Last night, my 15 year old Grandson hugged me tightly when my arms were at my sides and both of us heard the pop….pain immediately following! Was scared that a rib had broken, but didn’t want to upset him more. My question to you, is did it need to be put back in place, either by your chiropractor or yourself to stop the uncomfortableness?

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Julie. I’m so sorry that you had this happen. I remember so well how much it hurt. I never did go to a chiropractor, but I’ve heard of many folks who got immediate relief from their pain after visiting a chiropractor. I’m not really sure how the chiropractor works their magic, but I guess it must involve some sort of manipulation. And, as I’ve mentioned in earlier comments, I think most people experience complete healing with time. With me, it was a gradual thing. It became less and less painful over time. I will say that I do still experience flare-ups from time to time, but ibuprofen is very helpful with that.

      Best wishes for quick healing—God bless you.

      Beth

  21. Laura d Says:

    Thank you for your post! I had never heard of this but you described what I’m going through perfectly! I have hope that I will heal.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      You’re welcome, Laura. I think the chances are pretty good that you will eventually heal…and with most folks, it heals completely. I pray that will be the case with you. Meanwhile, you may find some relief with ibuprofen—I did. Also, muscle relaxants can be helpful. I used valerian, but sometimes the stronger stuff is necessary.

      God bless you—all the best,
      Beth

  22. Glory Gauri Dassi Says:

    i am amazed at how many people..seems mostly women -have had this experience..me too…a good friend came by to say hi..gave me a big hard bear hug..lifting me off the floor and as he did i felt an instant stabbing pain in my left side..it knocked the breath out of me..now …four days later it still hurts..much like others posts here.well at least we are not alone in this..thanks everyone for sharing.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      It amazes me, too, Glory. The good thing is that from what I’ve seen, most of them recover without further pain. I hope that is the case with you.

      By the way, sorry not to respond earlier—I’ve been recovering from surgery and related treatment(don’t worry—not related to my rib issues!).

      All the best to you, Glory. (I love your name, by the way).

      Beth

  23. Genesis Says:

    Well the bear hug claimed another victim a week ago…me :( After visiting a friend I was told goodbye with a hug that brought my feet off the floor. I heard and felt a large pop with a tearing sensation in the left side of my rib cage. Immediate pain occurred as well as not being able to take a breath. I staggered a couple of steps. I remember leaning my head against the door frame. My body would not cooperate and allow me to breathe. The next thing I knew I opened my eyes to see his upside-down face because I was on the floor. I had passed out! Since the incident I have had moderate to severe pain, depending on my activity. It hurts to lift, reach, twist, bend, lay, sit, stand, walk, cough, sneeze, hiccup, or breathe. Basically it hurts to be alive. I cant wait for this to heal. My friend is now only to give me an “air hug” lol….oh shoot…and it hurts to lol

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Genesis! I was wincing when I read your description of your pain because I will never forget how much it hurt in the time after my injury. Who knew that a simple bear hug could be so hazardous? And it does seem particularly cruel how much it hurts to laugh afterwards. And breathe.

      But it does get better! I can testify to that…and most never have trouble again once they heal. I do pray that you will heal quickly, without further pain. Meanwhile, be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to take whatever it takes to ease your pain. I found anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants to be most helpful during the intensely painful period.

      All the best to you, Genesis.

      Beth

      • Genesis Says:

        Thank you Beth for the kind words and well wishes. 8 weeks later and all is healed. I thought I’d never get through it. I had to continue to work 50 hours a week during this process so I believe it took a little longer for me to heal. But now I have no pain at all. So thankful that it is finally over. Best wishes to you and thank you again.

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Oh Genesis…I am so glad! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know. I often think of the people who have commented and wonder how they’re doing, so it’s really nice that you took the time to let me know. Also, perhaps your posting this will give hope to other people who find their way to this post because of pain. The pain, as awful as it is at first, almost always does get better.

        Thanks again for letting me know. Have a joyful holiday and a blessed New Year. And remember to practice Safe Hugging! :-)

        Beth

  24. Rita Says:

    Great site to know your not alone and also have a inspire ring person praying for you. So hear goes my story my uncle passed away and the first person I see his one of the sons. Well the hug was great got harder and harder, then the pop I was surprised stood for a few minutes and nothing. Six days go by and forgot all about that hug thinking now this pain I’m having may be my heart. Burning, sharp knife pain, left arm and spin got very cold 2 hours goes by and to the clinic I go. From there my blood pressure is high doctor sends me to the hospital emerge same results high blood pressure and irregular heart beat. Until I see the Doctor he ask if I injured myself in any way I told him no he was convinced that something happen. When the doctor pressed on the area that was damaged is when it brought back the hug I received. So like many of you I’m hurting and sleeping lots. Doctors advice Advil for inflammation hot cold compress and looking at 2 day’s to a week could be longer. Now that I’m not alone I will pray that we all get better so we could hug again in no fear.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Rita,

      Thank you for your prayers! You have mine also. No, you are not alone—unfortunately, this injury is pretty common. Fortunately, though, it usually heals with no further problems. I hope that is the case with you.

      And don’t worry—you can still hug! But gently. While I do steer clear of overly enthusiastic hugs, I could never give up all those hugs that make me feel so loved.

      I wish you quick healing and freedom from pain, Rita.

      All the best,
      Beth

  25. emeeoreilly Says:

    Thanks for posting this, I just had the same thing happen to me. It is so comforting to know it will heal up on its own :)

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi emeeoreilly,

      You’re welcome. I’m so happy that folks suffering from this find a little help here. If nothing else, they know they’re not alone.

      And, yes, thank goodness, it does heal in time, with the aid of a little medication and rest. I hope that happens quickly for you!

      Take care…thanks for commenting.

      All the best,
      Beth

  26. Connie Says:

    This happened to me Friday November 22nd. My boyfriend hugged me and I heard a “pop”…today, December 3rd, i’m in more pain than ever..I have seen the Chiropractor 3 times already, the adjustments hurt so bad I cry, I see him again on Thursday…it’s unbearable at work today. Can’t take a deep breath without pain, can’t life, bend, turn steering wheel this morning killed me..cough/sneeze…out of the question…

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, God bless you, Connie…I remember that pain all too well! I am so sorry.

      I know it’s hard to believe when you’re hurting so badly, but it really does get better in time. I do hope the chiropractor is helping and that you will soon be free of pain. My heart goes out to you. I’m saying a prayer for you even as I write this.

      Take care of yourself—-may you heal well and soon!

      All the best,
      Beth

  27. Bridget Says:

    Another “bear hug” victim here! On December 28, a good friend of mine gave me an over-enthusiastic hug, and we heard the “pop” of my rib. Scared both of us, but especially me since the pain set in right away. I have been icing the area every night but the pain is still there and also in my left shoulder.
    All of the posts here have been very helpful, since I have an aversion to running to the doctors, or going to the ER. And I feel much better hearing that it’s not unusual for the pain to linger for weeks or even months. Advil definitely helps with the inflammation, and I am a chiropractic patient; I go to my chiropractor every week for adjustment, and I can’t wait to see him this week!
    Thank you all for the great info!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Bridget. I’m so sorry to hear that the “bear hug” has claimed another victim. :-( But happy to hear that you’ve found the information here helpful and encouraging! Yes, ibuprofen was definitely my best friend after my injury, as was ice and rest. Later on, I found heat quite comforting and relaxing. I’m sure you’ll find the chiropractor helpful, too.

      By the way, I understand your doctor (and ER) aversion as I have the same. May you soon have relief from your pain and rapid and complete healing. I’m saying a prayer for you right now. Take care of yourself!

      All the best,
      Beth

  28. Nichole Nelson Says:

    Im so glad to have found this! After visiting my brother whos been gone for over a year he bear hugged me. I dont remember hearing a pop but instantly I felt like someone had stabbed me, or like my insides exploded lol almost bought me to tears and had to grab the counter…. scared the crap outta him and he asked if I was okay. After about 10min the pain lessened but now im having pain in my left arm and hurts to breathe to deep…. its good to know its nothing too serious. Still sucks tho, hopefully it heals quick. Thanks so much for the post.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Nichole! Yep, I’ve got to agree with you—it does suck! It’s just such a shock that one bear hug can cause so much pain. The good news is that it usually eases with time, rest, and lots of ibuprofen. I do hope and pray that you heal quickly and well. I’m glad you got to see your brother though—I know you must have been happy to be with him after such a long time.

      I’ll say a special prayer for your healing, as I do for everyone who comments here. I’ll never forget how much I hurt after my injury. I hope you are soon free of pain.

      All the best to you (and your brother),
      Beth

  29. Anne Says:

    I recently was “bear hugged” ….lifted off the ground by my brother in law. I heard like a crack” and kinda reached for a table. It was sore but nothing like the following evening. Ten days later and I’m able to take deep breaths finally without always having to concentrate hard to do it and it’s sore but not that agonizing pain. My back gets tight across where his arms went when I stand too long or do too much but I’m so thankful for the healing finally starting.
    I went to the E.R. five days after seeing my doctor due to the inability to take deep breaths and pain that felt like a pole was sticking out both my chest and back. Scariest visit ever!!@#!!
    I do not believe they took the situation seriously. The ER doctor said he’d never heard of such a “story”. He orders cat scan and ultrasound and his final diagnosis????? My liver is inflamed and my Wbc was 15 and that was causing my issues!! He tells me to see someone about possible liver disease due to inflammation@!@@#@
    Scared me half to death. He said a bear hug would not inflame my liver or raise my Wbc … :O
    For those who’ve gotten their yolks squeezed..you are not alone.. bear hugs can cause inflammation and make it hard to take deep breaths. It may take a bit but it does heal.
    Sideways hugs only for me!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Anne,

      I’m so sorry you were a bear hug victim, too, but happy to hear that things are healing so quickly! It really is shocking just how much it hurts, and I have found that very few doctors seem to have any understanding of this injury, even though I think it’s far more common than we think. Even a physical therapist I talked to recently looked dubious when I described it. Chiropractors seem to be the only medical professionals that take it seriously.

      I hope you continue to heal quickly and well and have no lingering pain from your experience. And, yes…sideways hugs are a great idea! I always practice safe hugging now. :-)

      Take care and best wishes to you!

      Beth

    • Anne Says:

      I had the awful bear hug two weeks ago. My back pain is better and I’m back to work although my liver area is sore and I am currently following my doctor’s orders to stop taking my cholesterol medication due to Wbc being 16. I had to endure an e.r. doctor and his seemingly disbelief a hug caused the back and breathing issues. Cat scan, ultrasound..left me with a diagnosis of liver inflammation and the testing for Hepatitis!!!! Now that all the bloodwork shows nothing they think it’s my cholesterol medicine and Ihave to wait for yet more bloodwork to see if not taking medicine for a week will fix Wbc all the while I’m sore and obsessing on liver area discomfort that I did not have before that awful hug and probably didn’t feel as much before because my back and breathing in deep breaths was so pronounced. This is hell.
      They really can scare you because they totally do not understand the pain from a bear hug if nothing is broken.

  30. c rockehorse Says:

    So glad i found this! This is the 2nd time a hug has caused severe pain last time in a downward direction/this time up to my lateral chest and i can actually locate a ceertain painful point! I am a nurse but have never heard of this! Was worried it was a collapsed lung or something but i can breathe! But do have the deep breath issue/and pain lowering a window or picking up a gallon of water!becoming L handed!THANKS!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, c rockehorse,

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this for the second time! It’s a shame that hugs can be so hazardous, but the good news is that, in time, this almost always heals. As I mentioned above, ibuprofen has, for me, been the most effective at reducing the inflammation and pain. And, of course, avoiding for a while the activities that make it worse.

      I do hope that you soon feel better and free from pain. Prayers and good thoughts for your healing.

      All the best,
      Beth

  31. J. Schuster Says:

    BEAR HUG becoming hard to BARE…. OUCH! Who ever thought a bear hug could become so grizzly..,..uh, maybe that’s why they call it that! Same thing… A BIG Grizzly hug from my teddy bear… Lifting me off my feet when I too felt/heard the pop/crunch…it wasn’t that bad at first…I went to work and served food all night long without taking any kind of medicine… N it wasn’t so bad… Only real pain i had was getting in n out of my car… And leaning forward…But day 2… woke up in a little more pain… Did some life housework n grocery shopping only having slight pain loading/unloading the heavy bags…. Then day 3.,. woke up with moderate pain… complaining often…. N i had lots to do being Christmas is almost here… Did some last minute shopping in which I had to carry my sleeping toddler ( only 20lbs)…. though carried her quite some distance… The pain is now severe… Can feel it in my arm, shoulder, neck, & back too….. have taken 400mg ibufrofen though to my surprise it brought NO RELIEF…n I RARELY take pain medication as I want it to work such times as this when I am in such excruciating pain! I still have to waitress as I’m a single mom of 3…y me?? I guess that’s why they DON’T call them BUNNY hugs!

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Oh, J. Schuster…my heart goes out to you! Even now, over seven years later, I remember the terrible pain I had. It hurt so badly I honestly could not imagine that it would EVER feel better. But it does get better. You may temporarily need something stronger than ibuprofen for the pain, so you might want to see a doctor (you can still work while taking most pain medicines—I did). The ibuprofen does reduce inflammation, so it might be good to keep taking it. Heat also helps it feel better—I highly recommend it.

      It really does get better with time. Mine did take quite a while, but it gradually healed. I pray that yours will heal quickly—it’s especially hard when you lead such a busy life. God bless you—you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      All the best,
      Beth

  32. slooney421 Says:

    Same thing happened to me last Sunday. Big bear hug from a friend & it felt like 3 little miniature water balloons burst between my breast & my underarm.
    The 1st few days were painful but it seems to be getting worse.
    I have implants & was afraid that he had burst one but they seem fine….but the only time it feels better is when I lean forward & take the pressure off.
    I’d love to know how long these injuries take to heal

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      I’m so sorry this happened to you, slooney421. It really is unbelievable how painful this injury can be—I’ll never forget it. But it really does almost always get better! How long seems to vary. Quite honestly, it took me several months, but I think most people get better in weeks, probably some even in days. I do highly recommend ibuprofen because it seems to best reduce the inflammation that causes the pain—it really was my wonder drug. Also, muscle relaxants can help. And my microwave heating pad was my best friend through those difficult weeks of pain.

      You will be in my thoughts and prayers—I do hope you will have rapid and complete healing.

      All the best,
      Beth

  33. Bernice Says:

    I am a senior. My boyfriend hugged me so hard that I heard “popping.” First I thought that he broke my ribs. Then I thought that maybe my under wire bra was popping. However, I had no problems breathing, so I just let the pain go away on its own. The pain has gone away after 2 months. I was so glad to read all the posts here, and I am glad that I chose not to go to a doctor. It was difficult to do exercises. Now, I am back to exercising with my push ups and twists. Thank you to all of you who took the time to share your experiences and solutions to this “hugging” problem.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Bernice. I’m really glad to hear that your bear hug injury healed so well and so quickly! Thank you for coming back to comment—I know your words give hope to those who are presently in pain, knowing that they, too, will likely soon feel much better. I hope you continue to do well and thrive.

      All the best,
      Beth

  34. kourtnee Says:

    i hurt my upper chest/ribs and under my armpit aches so bad, its been 5days and it feels like its worse. I slipped and landed on a chunck of ice to the chest it wasnt so bad at first but i have a high pain tollerance i can barely cough or breath deep now…and lift my arm n walkin fast is so painful i am thinking of going to a doctor

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Kourtnee. Oh gosh, that sounds so painful! I’m very sorry that happened to you. I also have a high pain tolerance, but my rib injury was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. I think it might be a good idea for you to go to the doctor since it sounds like there’s a possibility you may have broken a rib. In my case, it was a bear hug, but with you having a chunk of ice to your chest, it seems more probable that there could be something broken. Meanwhile, perhaps ibuprofen would help to at least reduce some inflammation.

      I’ll say prayers for you and hope you’ll heal quickly and well.

      All the best,
      Beth

  35. Pat Says:

    I am SHOCKED to see that there are “many” people having this problem…I have had this happen to me about 6 times now, all but one, from “hugs” the other from someone trying to pop my back..I have not been able to find answers anywhere…I am so glad to have found this forum…I am going through it right now, from me squeezing my sons back for him.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Pat. I am so sorry you’re going through this pain yet again, but glad you’ve found this blog post. I hope you have found something of value here that might help to ease your pain and discomfort.

      God bless you—prayers for your quick healing!

      All the best,
      Beth

      • Pat Says:

        Beth, I am very thankful for this page, the ibuprofen are working wonders!!!! I am just so worried now that everytime I move or hug someone its going to happen again :(

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Pat, I’m so glad the ibuprofen is helping! It was and continues to be my wonder drug. And I completely understand your fears. When you have that sort of pain and it finally gets better, you’re terrified of anything that might bring it back. I’ve worked on teaching my friends and family “safe” hugging, but sometimes my more exuberant loved ones will still forget themselves and grab me for a bear hug.

      I pray your healing may continue and you’ll soon be free of pain. And that all your hugs will be gentle!

      All the best,
      Beth

      • Mary Smith Says:

        Yes, we come from a long line of bear huggers, and I am on the couch now after a week of the same symptoms as everyone else. Going to put some heat, take Aleve, and put no strain on my left side. Just pray it goes away soon.

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi there, Mary. Ah, yes…a family of exuberant bear huggers here, too! I’m so sorry that you are in such pain—I know it is really miserable. You’re on the right track, though, with the Aleve, heat, and rest. I will pray for your quick recovery, healing, and relief from pain.

        Take care—hope you feel better soon.

        All the best,
        Beth

  36. acworthpeach Says:

    This is so funny because I was hugged hard in church by a man in my Sunday school class & I yelled, “OUCH!!!” I still can’t believe he hugged me that hard as I hardly even know him & it was really just a friendly hug as we were walking down the hall. I feel weird telling anyone about it, but I was in pain for about 6 weeks, hardly able to turn over in bed.
    It did heal somewhat & then I reached over my console in my car to pick up something from the other side & I did the same thing to myself. Ugh!! So, here I am, back in the same situation & misery. I wonder if my chiropractor could make the pain dissolve quicker. I must be prone to injury in that area now. Frustrating. I just had to share with you.
    Blessings :)
    Susan

    • Pat Says:

      I thought the chiropractor could help too :( explained everything and everytime it happened to me…all was going well….until..I was laying flat on my back, he twisted my left leg over towards the right leg, and gave a little “jerk” popping my back oh so awesome…except it also popped that bear hugging whatever it is…too..he immediately did an x-ray, and found nothing!!!! He said it definitely is not bone..and he had never seen this before…I was in so much pain, I was unable to finish my session with him..so if you try yours, I hope it helps and maybe one day we can figure out WHY it does this..mine has happened in other places, all around the rib cage..could be on either side..and has been lower than my chest area..

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Susan. I am so sorry you are suffering from such pain again. I can definitely attest to how much it hurts. Interestingly, I had almost exactly the same re-injury as you in the year after my initial injury. I was feeling dandy when I simply leaned over to unlock our truck door for my husband and immediately felt the shock of that horrible pain. So I took the usual maximum dose of Ibuprofen and moved very, very cautiously for about a month, and it again, thankfully, went away. In the years since, I’ve had it happen again a few more times (once when I leaned into our car trunk to pull out something heavy), but the good news it that it went away more quickly all those times than it did the very first time. And now, I simply avoid the particular motions that seem to irritate my ribs, and I haven’t had any severe pain there for quite a long time.

      I will say prayers for your quick and complete healing—my heart goes out to all my fellow bear-hug victims. It really does hurt, and I’m sorry.

      Blessings to you too, Susan!
      Beth

      • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

        Hi, Pat. Ugh…I’m so sorry that you had such a painful experience at the chiropractor. I didn’t go to a chiropractor for this injury, but I’ve heard from several people who did and were helped. Quite honestly, I didn’t go because I was actually afraid of that very thing—that it might be made worse. After my injury, I noticed that even simple movements irritated my ribs, so I really didn’t even want to be touched. From what I understand, it’s common for it not to show up on X-rays, which is one reason doctors don’t seem to take it very seriously, which is why I never went to a doctor.

        One thing I wanted to mention is that I also have had the pains all over my rib area. The weirdest thing is that with the initial injury, I went to bed with the original side hurting, then woke up with the exact same pain on the other side! I couldn’t believe it! I’m not a medical professional, but I assume this happens because your nerves are being impinged and the nerve pain transfers all over the place since everything is connected.

        Anyway, I am really sorry you are still hurting so. I will say prayers for you. I do hope that your pain resolves quickly and never returns!

        All the best,
        Beth

  37. Kristin Says:

    So happy to find this site too. Last Sunday got a big hug from a new man I am interested in and hear a pop as he lifted me off the ground. I’ve been sore around my heart ever since. Will take Ibuprofen and be patient now that I know I’m in good company!
    KF

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi there, Kristin,

      You are indeed in good company…anyone who has had this injury can definitely relate to just how much it hurts. I am so sorry you’ve joined us, but glad you’ve found help here.

      Prayers for your healing—I do hope you heal quickly and well. Be gentle with yourself. And make sure your new friend hugs you tenderly for a while. :-) God bless you!

      All the best,
      Beth

  38. Ash Says:

    I’m in an abusive relationship and last night he squeezed me so tight same thing happened. Hurts baddd

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Dear Ash,

      I am so sorry that you are in such pain. If you were squeezed in a violent way, you may have broken ribs and need to see a doctor, so I would recommend that you go to the nearest hospital emergency room. They will also be able to help you find safety, help, and support if you tell them what happened.

      You can also go to this site: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/
      There’s a number there to call: 1-800-799-7233. They can help you—please call.

      Please know that you are not alone—there is a lot of help and support out there.

      I will say prayers for your healing and well-being. God bless you, Ash.

      All the best,
      Beth

  39. Tricia Stanley Says:

    I had the exact same thing happen. I went to 3 doctors and they all said the same thing. I tore tissue. I had to take naproxen for inflammation. I’m still on it off and on. It’s important to keep the inflammation away from your heart. I’m just like you with meds.

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Tricia,

      I’m sorry you’ve joined the painful ribs club, but glad you found us here! I’m also glad you found something that helped your pain. Naproxen is actually better for your heart than ibuprofen, I believe. That is really interesting about the inflammation affecting your heart—I never knew that. I still take my ibuprofen, too—it is my wonder drug, but I try to take as little as I can. I’ve recently discovered that ginger seems to help my pain a bit, too. It certainly can’t hurt, right?

      I will say a prayer for your complete healing. Take care, and thanks for commenting!

      All the best,
      Beth

  40. Kathy Says:

    While at work, a co worker was happy when I fixed a computer problem for him…in his enthusiasm, he bear hugged me. I felt a popping, stabbing pain, near my underarm, left breast..I thought my underwire bra snapped..but it didn’t. The pain buckled my knees. I went to orthopedic dr..no broken ribs. But pain persists..Dr gave me muscle relaxer, pain meds, and anti inflammatory..a week later, no relief. A search of symptoms brought me to this sight..maybe I have the same ailment. Deep breaths are ok…but if I try to push anything, it aggravates my side..what else, besides rest, ibuprofen, heat, can I try..I’m getting desperate and it’s only been 9 days…

    • blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

      Hi, Kathy,

      I am so sorry you are in such pain still—I can completely understand your sense of desperation. This injury really can be very painful, and unfortunately, it can also take a long time to resolve. Mine did. After a month of maximum anti-inflammatories, heat, and rest, my pain finally began to ease a bit. But, honestly, it took months before I began to feel like my old self again. If you read the comments here, you’ll see that some folks got relief from chiropractic treatment—I don’t know if that’s something you’d want to try. I didn’t—couldn’t stand the thought of anyone moving me about. Even simple movements hurt, as you well know.

      I wish I could tell you something more helpful, but, for me, just continuing to take the ibuprofen, using heat, being very, very gentle with myself—-and time—- are what finally seemed to make the difference. If things don’t get better in the next week, perhaps it would be good to call the orthopedist back. Maybe he/she could refer you to a good physical therapist—some have been helped that way. I have found that most medical doctors don’t seem to take this very seriously or truly comprehend just how painful and life-limiting it can be. But many of us who’ve experienced it know better.

      Anyway, please do know that I’ve said a prayer for your complete (and hopefully quick!) healing and the easing of your pain. My heart goes out to you.

      All the best,
      Beth

  41. kathy33p Says:

    Thank you so much for your positive thoughts, Beth…one day, I thought I was getting better, just to remind me, the next day, that the pain is still with me…Kathy.

  42. kathy33p Says:

    Has anyone here had an MRI done?

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