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Pain in chest beneath sternum after a about with dry heaves
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Pain in chest beneath sternum after a about with dry heaves

Three days ago, I got severe food poisoning with forceful vomiting and diarhea (diarrhea), and after everything in my stomach came up, I had dry heaves for a while.  I felt a pain in my chest under the sternum, right between my breasts while I was vomiting.  Since then, there is a twinging pain in that same area under the sternum.  I notice it whether I'm standing or laying down.  Last night, while sleeping on my stomach, the pain woke me up.  It's not a terrible pain, and not a burning sensation, but more like a tugging, twinging pain, in one little place between my breasts.   It feels like I've done some kind of structural damage from the vomiting.  Also, I've been noticing a bit of reflux since then.  Could I have bruised a muscle in my chest or something?  Or maybe a hiatal hernia from the force of the dry heaves?  How much time should I give this before going to a doc for a diagnosis?  What diagnostic procedures do you recommend?  

Thank you.
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The act of a forceful vomit itself can lead to pain and discomfort.

However, before attributing to that, you may want to ensure there isn't any structural or internal damage.

I would consider a barium swallow or upper GI series.

If negative, further evaluation can be done with an upper endoscopy - which can also evaluate the reflux as well.

These options can be discussed with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
kevinmd_b
12 Comments
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Hi Sapphire, yes, you could have bruised your sternum. I had surgery for an ovarian cyst about 4 weeks ago. Had severe vomiting fromm the anesthetic and am having a similar pain to what you describe. I can tell you that ice and advil have helped it. Mine really only hurts when I move a certain way. A bruised ribcage can take a couple months to heal, so be patient.

Hudson
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Hi Hudson,

It actually feels like it might be tissue under the sternum, not the sternum itself, though you may be saying the same thing, only in a different way.  Also, sometimes it feels like the pain is a bit higher on the chest, dead center again.  Maybe it's referred pain.  Thank you for sharing your experience.  Sounds like I may have the same thing as you.  

Sapphire
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Sapphire, I was just reading on-line about costochronditis. Have you heard of this? I am going to post a link and let me know what you think. I am pretty sure this is what I have as I have already been ultrsounded for most everything else. lol.

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/costochondritis/article_em.htm

Hudson
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Hi Hudson,

According to the article you posted, costo causes localized chest pain that you can reproduce by pushing on the cartilage in the front of your ribcage.  I can't reproduce the pain by pushing on the cartilage, so I guess I don't have costco. The pain seems to come and go, intermittantly, on its own.  

Thank you for posting... at least I know I don't have costochonritis now.  :)

Sapphire
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Hi Sapphire, mine is reproduceable by pushing on the bone and cartilage. Well, it's good you don't have it. One less thing!

Hudson
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Hi
I went through the dry heaves recently from pain medication that made me sick for a period and also have a hiatal hernia. I had this terrible pain in the chest in between my breast for a time when i was told to massage the rib under my breast continually and it would put everything back in place. it worked for me so maybe you can try?

I hope you feel better.
Kathy
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Thanks for the massage suggestion. I will try that as well. Mine seems slightly better each day, though annoying when I get a sharp pain.

Hudson
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Research SLIPPING RIB SYNDROME.
We have a set of floating ribs at the bottom of our ribcage. Sometimes after severe coughing and/or vomitting (and things of that nature) we can affect the floating ribs (sometimes even break a rib). The pain can mimic a number of illnesses ranging from hernia, gallbaldder and even heart attack. Check it out and you might find that this is what has happened.
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Hi there, my pain is finally going away after 3 + weeks. I am going to check out what you suggest for future reference.

Thanks,

Hudson
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Just checked out "slipping rib syndrome" and apparently it is pretty much the same as costochronditis. What helped mine was applying ice 3-4 times a day for 20 minutes and ibuprofen. It is gradually getting better.

Hudson
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Hi there, was thinking of you today and wondering how you were doing? Let us know.

Hudson
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pain under arm/boob area. hurts when I lift arm and turn
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