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I see there has been some activity on this board recently after a long period of dormancy, so I thought I'd ask a question.

I strained my ribs on one side two weeks ago, and suspect it's "just" an intercostal muscle issue (that is, the muscles between and around the ribs). I've read that this type of injury usually goes away on its own in 6 to 8 weeks, and that the best way to deal with it is NSAIDS for pain and inflammation and mild stretching and exercise despite the pain to retain range of movement and prevent scar tissue from forming. But, it still hurts like the dickens! I bought a "red light therapy" lamp, which in this case is just a $40 LED bulb with 9 660nm LEDs and 9 850nm LEDs, plus a socket with a clamp and switch to be able to use it. I had read that it might help to promote healing of muscle tissue so I figured why not give it a shot. I've been using if for a few days, a couple times a day, a few minutes at a time, but so far it doesn't seem to be doing much. It does feel warm on my skin, so that's something I guess, and I'm not overweight so there's not much distance between the skin and the intercostal muscles, but does the infrared radiation really penetrate that far below the skin to make any difference to the tissues below? Any advice appreciated.
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I don't know anything about infrared light, other than the minimal overview I've just gotten when I looked it up. It certainly seems worth a try, although you say you haven't experienced any benefit yet. I'm assuming you've researched what to buy, and you have a product you can have confidence in.

I do have some other recommendations to try. I would get yourself some Topricin. It's got all sorts of interesting ingredients. I learned of it from an integrative physical therapist, and it is much superior to what I'd been using when the need arose. Topricin helps reduce pain and swelling and speeds healing. I get mine from AllStarHealth.com, which has the best price around.

If you haven't applied ice, I'd do that for 10 minutes or so several times a day.

I wouldn't take the NSAID (unless it's aspirin) any longer than you absolutely have to, because although they reduce the inflammatory signal, they do not resolve inflammation themselves, and they inhibit the body's own anti-inflammatory pathways. Aspirin is the only NSAID that actually initiates production of an anti-inflammatory mediator, and it resembles the ones that our body makes.

I would also either start taking fish oil, or significantly increase your dose for now if you already do. The reason for that is because the EPA and DHA components of fish oil are identical to the anti-inflammatory substrates that the body makes. (My favorite brand is Minami, distributed by Garden of Life. It's made by a supercritical process, so there's no chemical residue and you get a much more concentrated dose in a much smaller softgel than is typical. Again....AllStarHealth.com. I'd get the Maintenance one, and take several a day.

Another supplement to increase significantly is vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to healing, as it's a critical component in building healthy new tissue. A great product is Mercola's Liposomal C. And if Allstarhealth is out of it, get it directly from Mercola (their Market, I think it is). Same price, free shipping. "Liposomal" means that it's coated so that much less is destroyed as it's metabolized. I would take 2 of them twice a day at least. Actually, there is a way to determine how much C you currently need because of the increased demand caused by your injury--but most people don't like the idea. Start out at several grams, then increase that by 1 gram/day until you have diarrhea. That tells you you've gone a tad too far. So cut back to the previous day's dose and stick with that.

I would also look around for an acupuncturist. That can help enormously to reduce inflammation and pain and speed healing, protect against forming scar tissue.

I hope there is something helpful among all of this! If you try anything, I'd love to know what helps, what doesn't.

=sheila
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Thanks for the ideas! I do take fish oil, but I'm cheap, so it's an inexpensive brand, but the amounts of EPA and DHA are similar to Minami. I had been taking half the daily dose - again because I'm cheap - but I'll double it to see if that makes a difference.

As for NSAIDS, only Aleve agrees with me, and also works, but I can't take it for more than a week or else it starts bothering my stomach. I'll have to stop it in another day or two. I've not taken aspirin since I was a kid, but I'll consider that. I suspect aspirin will also cause me stomach problems after a while though.

I do also take 500mg of cheap vitamin C, and I'll try doubling that.

"To ice or heat", that is the perennial question! I thought the usual rule was ice for the first day or two, then heat after that, but only if it helps. At this point (two weeks post injury), heat seems to help more than ice, but it's hard to say.

Finally, Topricin. I see that it's a homeopathic product, and I think the efficacy of those is dubious at best despite the rave reviews, particularly when ingredients are highly diluted like some of those in Topricin (though it does have some at only 3x (1/1000) dilution, so there is some active ingredient still present). I had bought Arnicare in desperation a while back for a joint injury and it did seem to help, but that was a reasonable 1/10 dilution of Arnica montana (specifically "1X HPUS 7%"), so that has a non trivial amount of active ingredient. BTW, I'm still not sure what the 7% is referring to - if it's a 1/10 dilution, shouldn't that be 10%? Or is it instead a 1/10 dilution of a 7% starting amount? Googling hasn't helped me so far.

Again, thanks for your reply.
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So frustrating! Just typed a long reply, clicked Submit--and it disappeared! I don't have the time to repeat it right away but will do it later this evening.

=sheila
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So frustrating! Just typed a long reply, clicked Submit--and it disappeared! I don't have the time to repeat it right away but will do it later this evening.

I hate when that happens. I’ve found that sometimes just hitting the back button in the browser lets you recover it. Probably too late to work for you now though.
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I didn't think of that quickly enough. Next time!

So....later.

=sheila
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Okay. Here we go again! ;-)

I do take fish oil, but I'm cheap, so it's an inexpensive brand, but the amounts of EPA and DHA are similar to Minami.

I spend now for excellent quality supplements because they do a lot more for my health, and that has consequences for my future. So I regard it as money really well spent.

I would more than double your fish oil for now, and once you've healed, you can return to the dose you've been taking.

I do also take 500mg of cheap vitamin C, and I'll try doubling that.

First of all, a cheap vitamin C isn't doing much good even in normal times. It needs compounds added to it to improve its biovailability. But even so, you can't metabolize more than 500mg at a time. Anything more will be peed out. The one that I take, the liposomal version, is protected with a coating that enables a lot more of the dose to be used by your body. And it's a very reasonable price. It costs $37 for 180 gelcaps of 500mg. You can take 1000mg at a time, and derive full benefit. I'd suggest that--for now, until you're healed--get that one and take several grams/day. Then once you've healed, you can decide if you want to take 500mg/day of that one, or return to your cheap one.
https://www.allstarhealth.com/f/dr_mercola-liposomal_vitamin...

"To ice or heat", that is the perennial question!

Then follow the guide that advises combining them--10 min of cold followed immediately by 10 min of heat.

Topricin. I see that it's a homeopathic product, and I think the efficacy of those is dubious at best despite the rave reviews,....

Homeopathy is challenging, because it's really hard to get any kind of intuitive feeling for it. I had never put much stock into it until I met several really crackerjack physicians who had trained in it and found it to be an invaluable addition to their toolbox. And then I've had some good experiences. For me, Topricin turned out to be far superior than the product I had used before that, which had been recommended by an integrative physiatrist I had met. And the woman who's exercise studio I go to had been a fan of arnica for injuries and bruises until she tried Topricin. She wasn't initially enthusiastic, convinced that arnica couldn't be topped. I gave her some to try, and she was absolutely floored. She didn't replace her arnica. She said there's no comparison. And there IS some good research. One area had concerned kids' ear infections, and it was compared to antibiotics. It performed significantly, and in less time--and without the side effects we now know occur with antibiotic use in kids. But forget about trying to understand dilutions and all that stuff. Give it the acid test. Get some, try it. If you don't find benefit, then give it to a friend to try.

I had mentioned acupuncture before. Realizing now that spending as minimally as possible is important to you, I'd suggest looking to see if there's an acupuncture school where you live. If so, contact the clinic where students train (under the careful supervision of highly experiences practititoners). It'll take longer, but you'll get excellent treatment and it should cost you next to nothing.

As for the aspirin--I'd try it, and see what happens.

Good luck. And please report back about how you're doing, and what works for you and what doesn't!

=sheila
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Thank you. I'll try the liposomal C, more fish oil, plus ice followed by heat. I just tried the reverse order and it wasn't very comfortable! I'll also stick with my Arnicare for now, as well as the infrared light. Hopefully this goes away in a few weeks!
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Your plan sounds good. Fingers crossed! Let me know how you're progressing.
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Wondering how you are progressing?

=sheila
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Thanks for asking! Well, it still hurts, seven weeks now after the injury. It's better than it was but I still have a nagging tightness in the area plus the occasional sharper pain. And I still can't resume normal activity without constantly having to worry about favoring my left side. I've kept up the liposomal C and increased fish oil supplements, but not sure either is doing much of anything. Hard to know. Also, I swear the red light therapy was actually making it worse - hard as it is for me to believe that - so I stopped that 4 weeks ago. I was skeptical it would have ANY effect, which is why it's hard for me to believe it had a BAD effect! So, my theory now is that it has mostly healed, but perhaps there's now scar tissue that is causing the continued pain. Again, hard to say for sure what's really going on other than that it just hurts. I wish I could see inside and take a close look at the tissues involved! In normal times I'd probably try going to physical therapy, but with COVID resurging everywhere I'm very reluctant to do that.
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I would try the Topricin cream. I would strongly recommend a series of acupuncture treatments if this is something you can manage. And something else that might be helpful too is a neem supplement--as neem is anti-inflammatory and helps healing. (It's also antimicrobial--actually in a covid trial right now.) It's an amazing plant that people in the areas of Asia and Africa where it originated have always called it "the village pharmacy plant." I would recommend Six-Way Neem from NeemTreeFarms.com. It combines extracts from the leaf and the bark that are derived using 3 different approaches to get the greatest spectrum of therapeutic compounds.

Good luck. And stay in touch here.

=sheila
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Never heard of Neem (like most traditional Indian remedies, I'm sure). I'll take a look.

Topricin - ok, you convinced me - I'll give it a try: it probably can't hurt! Although that's what I thought about the red light therapy :-)

Thanks again - I'll give an update in another month.
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I hope the topricin and neem offer benefit!

=sheila
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