Undiagnosed Life Threatening GI Injury After Chiropractic Massage

Posted by brandonl @brandonl, Jul 5, 2021

I've been struggling for 2 and 1/2 years in and around my state it to get a proper diagnosis after I had an injury to my chest and GI.

I was at a chiropractor's office experiencing slow gastric emptying and insomnia. He recommended I do a “harmless” hiatal hernia massage thinking a hernia was the cause of my slow digestion. He emailed me instructional videos on how to do the "massage". At the time I was a martial artist doing strength conditioning including finger push-ups…

After contemplating if I wanted to do the massage, I ended up trying it because my symptoms started to become extremely bothersome.

I watched the videos and in one of the videos they recommended not being afraid to get aggressive and to push deeply into the stomach. Little did I realize, I was severely aggressive. I performed the hiatal hernia massage out of frustration and applied way too much force. I literally inflicted trauma on myself. The most embarrassing way to ever get harmed.

I did the massage underneath my xiphoid process, down underneath the right side of my rib cartilage, partially underneath the left, went through my epigastric region and stopped at my umbilicus.

While performing the massage forcefully, I applied far too much force and felt something break off and cave in. Like a chunk of flesh broke off. It felt like my whole chest and abdomen caved in. The next thing I know, I'm blacking out getting rushed to the hospital. Ever since then, I've been completely disabled bedridden. And no one has been able to fully figure out what got injured.

I've been extremely faint and severely exhausted, unable to breathe, eat or push to go to the bathroom. I've been sleeping sitting up for two and a half years holding my GI in pain.

I broke my ribs on both sides. I got slipping rib syndrome surgery on the right side which was the most injured side. The SRS went undiagnosed for 2 years after seeing many doctors. Many is an understatement… By the grace of God, a stranger suggested part of my problem was SRS. Not too long after that, I flew out to a SRS specialist to get surgery.

Throughout my search, So far I was diagnosed with MALS, nutcracker syndrome, stage 3 heart failure, slipping rib syndrome and severe to moderate constipation. I never had these conditions at this severity until this injury. It wasn't until a few months in that it got worse and I started experiencing MALS pain, as I felt the injury cave in more. I was diagnosed at Beaumont and then confirmed at U of M. The doctor noted I was in too much pain to even have an ultrasound device press on my stomach/abdomen where I applied too much force.

I then consulted multiple specialists about mals. Some have recommended surgery whereas others have not and were actually afraid of harming me due to the undiagnosed injury and GI issues. I'm skeptical of getting the surgery due to all of the additional pain that I'm having at the point of injury and lower.

I'm struggling with severe symptoms. I'm fighting for my life because of something that seemed so harmless at the time. Whatever I did, I finished off something that was already on its way out.

Attached is a symptom list. I did my best to describe what I'm feeling. I truly need help figuring out what's going on and I can't find anyone in my state that can figure it out.

Symptoms list.

Epigastric area pain.
Difficulty breathing.
Pain underneath costal cartilage. Something feels loose or torn under the right rib cartilage. Now on the left side as well.
Stomach and abdominal pain.
Abdominal, Chest, Pectoral and Neck Spasms.
Spasms are worse after eating or pushing to urinate or have a bowel movement.
Extreme difficulty eating and drinking from tugging pains.
Bent over or curled up after eating.
A lot of water is required to reduce tugging pain.
Moderate to severe constipation.
The feeling of something detached moving.
Sharp Stinging Abdominal pain – superficial to the touch and deep.
Stomach and large intestine tugging, tearing, stretching, throbbing, pulling pain – feels like weights pulling.
Abdomen sucks in on its own as if it's trying to hold something in place.
Tender to touch starting underneath xiphoid, through epigastric region, in-between left and right costal cartilage, underneath right costal cartilage, deep and superficial.
It feels like a band wraps around the front of my chest and abdomen pulling down making it difficult to breathe and eat.
Constant collapsed feeling in and around my stomach.
Unable to push to urinate or have a bowel movement.
Close to passing out when pushing to urinate or have a bowel movement.
Everything feels like it's sitting lower than it's supposed to.
Chest and abdomen feel empty and open rather than compact higher up like it used to.
Stomach pain and occasional stomach spasms leading to fainting. Especially when trying to sleep. Worsens when eating.
Pain and spasms in between my right shoulder blade.
Rectal pain and around rectum. Feels like I’m constantly pushing to go to the bathroom.
Lower large intestine pain on the left and right side.
Bowel movements occasionally cause lower spine pain.
Tugging chest and abdomen/belly pain. Increases to unbearable pain and difficulty breathing when I lay down or relax my abdomen/belly.
Fainting worsened when I lay down, sit leaning back or relax.
Bowels moving worsens the fainting.
Low Blood Pressure. Seen at 80/40 Diagnosed Stage 3 CHF. No previous heart issues until collapsed symptoms started.
Have to sleep sitting up or I wake up severely faint and sleep deprived.
Severe exhaustion from dealing with this for so long. Completely disabled now.
Pain when burping. Stomach feels like it pushes down when I burp.
Unable to vomit, my stomach feels like it’s pushing down instead of up.
Mild GI relief when inverted.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Digestive Health group.

@brandonl Welcome to Connect. I do understand your apprehension to surgery and the difficulty in that decision when you are getting conflicting opinions from your specialists. I don't have the same issues as you, but I do have thoracic outlet syndrome which causes my rib cage to be too tight and it doesn't expand fully on one side. I see a physical therapist who does myofascial release. This is a very gentle stretching of the fascia. I think this can be done for you without pressing on your tender area.

Injuries and surgeries creates fascial scar tissue that is tied in a knot. This fascia web extends everywhere in your body. Stretching releases that knot and lets the tissue move again. It seems like the impact of your injury has caused things to be stuck and out of normal alignment. I don't know if this is something your doctors will advise or not, but it is non-invasive and if it doesn't work, you would still be just the same. It is done hands on by a therapist who will interact with you while you give feedback. You already have some internal body awareness because of your injury, so you might be able to feel this on the spot if it helps.

The fascia is a net throughout your body. I know for me, my tightness extends from my jaw through my neck and the front of my chest and into my pelvis which it can pull out of alignment. That affects my breathing too because it is tight around the respiratory diaphragm. When my PT stretches that, I can feel the tingling extend out to other distant areas. She can tell with her hands too where the tightness extends. I know it sounds crazy, and some doctors don't embrace this, but remember, they train on cadavers with dead tissue that doesn't move, not living tissue with fascia that is supposed to slide.

Here is our discussion on MFR. There is a provider finder on the MFR website. Let me know If I can answer any questions about MFR.
You would need someone with expert level certifications in the John Barnes Methods.


Have you seen any Dr’s or had a televisit with Mayo Clinic Jacksonville or Rochester, MN or AZ yet ? Oh I feel so so bad for you . I have horrible digestive disorders for 8 years non stop every single day and night . I’ve seen 5 Gastro Dr’s and finally am getting a televisit Sept 5 th w/ Gastro Dr at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. This is my last hope for some relief . Praying 🙏 you find your answers soon .
P. S. I just watched Chicago Med and the lady had Nutcracker syndrome ( I had never heard of it ).


Have you seen any Dr’s or had a televisit with Mayo Clinic Jacksonville or Rochester, MN or AZ yet ? Oh I feel so so bad for you . I have horrible digestive disorders for 8 years non stop every single day and night . I’ve seen 5 Gastro Dr’s and finally am getting a televisit Sept 5 th w/ Gastro Dr at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. This is my last hope for some relief . Praying 🙏 you find your answers soon .
P. S. I just watched Chicago Med and the lady had Nutcracker syndrome ( I had never heard of it ).

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Mayo Clinic has denied my case even after my patient advocate reached out expressing the severity of my health. Long story short, the complexity of my case is of no interest to them. They don't believe they can help me.

So I'm left with no answers batting at the air with doctors. The only good thing I think I have going for me is trying a world leading EDS geneticist to attempt to help me figure out the full extent of my GI injury in hopes to get surgery.

I'm miserable. Bedridden. It breaks my heart that mayo turns down such cases.

Thanks for praying. I need it more than anyone can comprehend.


First thing that comes to mind is diaphragm injury or vagus and phrenic nerve injuries that would affect your diaphragm. I've had a similar, but not as severe, problem, and saw every kind of specialist who dismissed symptoms as GERD. An osteopath made things worse with a "diaphragm release."

There is a physician in NJ named Matthew Kaufman who specializes in nerve injuries that affect the diaphragm.

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