I posted this in another forum, but nobody is replying to me. Maybe everyone in Neurology will know more.
I am a 27 yo male, with known bulging discs and DDD at c6-c7, t3-t4, and t4-t5. I really haven't had too many problems with these except for the occasional pain in my hands from the cervical disc or chest/back pain from the thoracic discs. Recently, I have been having chest, neck, and left arm pain resembling a heart attack. Along with the pain, I have also been having difficulty breathing and swallowing and severe headaches. I actually thought I was having a heart attack and went to the ER, where they did a complete cardiac workup. I am happy to say that my heart is very healthy, but I am still in pain. The only thing I can think of is that one of my discs has further herniated or ruptured, but I don't know which one could cause this. Also, I know that I need to see a physician for this, but I don't know what specialty to see. If anyone could help me, I would greatly appreciate it.
P.S. I'd like to add that these last few days have been really tough. The shocking pain has gotten worse and I'm having more and more problems swallowing.
I'm a little worried about you. Since your heart is A-okay, then it has to be the nerves that ennervate your swallowing and breathing muscles have been compromised, so you need to either have your regular doc or a neurologist order a scan for your cervical and thoracic spine, to see what's going on with the nerves that affect your swallowing mechanism and breathing. They may want to do a little surgery to release the nerves that may have become trapped, or at least get you in a brace and give you meds and eventually physical therapy. Also, if the bulging disks give out, you wind up with bone on bone, with an even higher risk of perhaps nerve damage, which you don't want those to be permanently injured.
As for having chest/heart pain, as you already know, the thoracic spine nerves are causing that to happen. So, it's good that you got your heart checked out just in case. It's lousy that you have degenerative disk disease, because you can expect to get these awful pains now and then down the road, unless a doc comes up with a treatment plan to slow that down or minimize it, and you will need to be followed with some regularity by an orthopedist or neurologist. But since you are having an obvious nerve component to this whole thing, I think a neurologist is the best doc to keep an eye on you.
You can do a search of this forum via the "Search This Community" rectangle, to the right of the blue bar across the top of this thread, put in DDD or degenerative disk perhaps, and see what others have said about it and what they've had done for it. Hope this helps a little.
There can be several reasons of your chest pain symptoms although without being able to examine you, I can not offer you the specific advice on diagnosis and treatment that you need, but I would try to provide you some relevant information about your health concern.
Most likely, your symptoms may be due to nerve irritation in the cervical (neck) spine because of injury/prolapse where contact between the edges of the vertebrae can cause neck pain. In few people, this pain may be referred and perceived as occurring in the back of head, shoulders, arms or chest (resemble heart related), rather than just the neck. Other symptoms may include vertigo, nausea (dizziness) that you felt. It will be best that you consult a neurologist who would like to prescribe pain-killers, steroid and muscle relaxants. Other treatments could be cervical orthosis such as a soft cervical collar/stiffer neck brace to restrict neck movement. In addition, cervical traction may also be suggested by the doctor, if condition is severe. Hope this helps.
I wanted to let you know that I believe I have found the culprit. I had my wife's cranial sacral therapist take a shot and he immediately found that my sternocleidomastoid muscles were extremely tight. He has been working on stretching them out over the past couple of weeks. The headaches, chest pain, arm pain, breathing, swallowing, and facial problems I was having have almost disappeared. He said that it is quite common in people with upper neck injuries, but is often overlooked as a cause of headaches and facial pain.
I appreciate you posting back with the information about the muscles. I knew that tight muscles in the shoulders, neck, and face can give people headaches, but I never thought about that as relates to your chest, difficulty breathing and swallowing. Really good info, helps us folks who reply to help others. I'm glad you're better, your wife has a good doc.
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