We learned in January that the shoulder pain Princess Ivi was having under her right shoulder blade was actually a non-healing broken first rib. (For those of you not familiar, the first rib is under the shoulder blade.) It is an uncommon bone to break but does happen in athletes, usually with fatigue.
I can pinpoint exactly when the original injury occurred, April 2008.
Princess Ivi was playing soccer and during a throw in, she overexerted herself in an effort to throw the ball as far down field as she could. Within seconds, she was grasping her shoulder and left the game.
Her primary care physician diagnosed her with a pulled muscle under her shoulder blade and referred us to the Sports Medicine doctor in 4 weeks. During those four weeks, my stubborn child refused to rest and take it easy, instead carrying her baby cousin and the baby next door and running and playing like any kid would do. After a few weeks and increased pain, I took her and made the doctor put her in a sling.
The trip to the Sports Medicine doctor was frustrating since they just checked her range of motion and said she was fine.
She has had tenseness in her shoulder since this incident but we chalked it up to the muscle being different since the injury and also to stress since most of us get tense in the shoulders when we are stressed.
However, in January, the pain in her shoulder got so bad she could barely move her arm, with radiating pain down her arm and across her back.
I took her to her primary care doctor who did an x-ray and MRI. The MRI showed nothing but the x-ray showed, to our surprise, a non-healing broken first rib under her shoulder blade.
The doctor’s suggestion at that time was to wait 2 to 3 months and then redo the x-rays and if it still wasn’t healing, she would do the referral to an orthopedist.
I contacted the doctor on March 10 advising that we couldn’t wait for the referral, the pain was getting worse and it was harder for Princess Ivi to breath. I requested the referral be done as soon as possible.
After many phone calls and raised voices (well, my voice anyway), we finally have the referral to the right doctor which would be the surgery department. The primary kept arguing that the INTERNET said for a non-healing first rib an orthopedist would need to be seen but the orthopedist in Gainesville said a pulmonologist would need to be seen.
After a call to the primary doctor to explain and her nurse assuring me that she would speak directly to the office she was referring us to, they once again sent the referral to an orthopedist, this time in Jacksonville. This new office advised that they never have treated and never will treat a broken rib and that needs to go to the surgery department. This was, of course, very frustrating since the nurse assured me she would do it right and she didn’t.
During the final call, when I raised my voice, the nurse said that the doctor was still worried about the shoulder. WTF???
Now, if someone was suspected of having a torn muscle under the right shoulder blade, had pain in the shoulder blade area and then it was discovered that there was a broken rib UNDER the shoulder blade, wouldn’t common sense lead you to believe that the problem was the rib, not the shoulder blade? Maybe it is just me but that seems really obvious.
It took her primary care physician 16 days to do the referral. The referral is now in place and Princess Ivi sees the surgery department on Friday. Of course, she is in so much pain and is miserable that it cannot come fast enough for either of us.
I don’t know how they will fix the rib. I suspect surgery but we won’t know for sure until Friday and even then, they may want additional testing done. I just hope that they don’t take too long, they can get it fixed and there is no long term nerve or arterial damage done (both of which are possible due to a non-healing broken first rib).
The questions I keep asking are was the break noticeable on the first x-ray done back in 2008 and should a referral for a child who is known to have asthma and an atrial septal defect really take 16 days when that child has complaints of difficulty breathing.
I am trying to keep my cool but depending on what the doctors say on Friday, if we can make it that far without a trip to the ER, about whether the initial treatment was wrong, I may have to consider talking to a lawyer and/or filing complaints with the licensing boards for doctors in Massachusetts and in Florida.
My poor baby is hurt and I want it fixed yesterday!!!