To discuss a case involving a patient with chronic chest pain, dyspnea, and anxiety. Although resistant to previous treatment regimens, the condition responded favorably to chiropractic manipulation of the costosternal articulations.


A 49-year-old man had chronic chest pain, dyspnea, and anxiety for over 4 months. The severity of the condition gradually progressed to the point of precluding the patient’s active employment and most physical activity. Prior efforts to treat the condition had met with failure.


The patient received mechanical force, manually assisted short-lever chiropractic adjustment of the thoracic spine and, in particular, the costosternal articulations. Adjustments were by means of an Activator Adjusting Instrument II. The patient responded favorably to the intervention, obtaining prompt relief from his symptoms. Sustained chiropractic care rendered over a 14-week period resulted in complete resolution of the patient’s previously chronic condition, with recovery maintained at 9-month follow-up.


Certain types of chest pain may have their etiology in a subluxation complex involving the costosternal articulation. Although the possibility of myocardial involvement must be considered with all patients whose symptoms include chest pain, a musculoskeletal involvement, including costosternal subluxation complex, may be the underlying cause of the symptoms in certain patients. When this is the case, chiropractic adjustment may provide an effective mode of treatment. Further study in an academic research venue is merited to investigate the role that conservative chiropractic care can provide for patients with chest pain.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2003 Feb;26(2):108-15. [PMID:12584509]

Author information: Polkinghorn BS, Colloca CJ. Department Faculty, New York Chiropractic College, Seneca, New York, USA.

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