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Pressure in chest and bilateral arm heaviness
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Pressure in chest and bilateral arm heaviness

Can someone please help me figure out what is going on with my body?  My symptoms are:
First of all, I suddenly feel a bilateral sensation in my arms of extreme heaviness (not numbness, not tingling) that starts at about mid forearm level and goes up my arms
At the same time, my chest feels like it is in a barrel and I am being squeezed completely around
These 2 symtoms (symptoms) last about 30-seconds to 1 minute and occur "out-of-the-blue", such as when shopping  or sitting on the couch.  It has happened at work and at home.
The last time this occured, for the first time,  I had a dull aching pain in the center of my back, between my shoulder blades, for about 5-8 minutes.  These "spells" concern me and this last one really scared me, thinking it might be a heart attack.  I chewed aspirin and tried to relax and eventually the aching pain went away.
I am a 58 year old woman with no history of heart disease except for familial history of my dad dying at 59 of heart disease.  I am only 5 pounds overweight and do not have high blood pressure or diabetes or any major illness.
Twice I have gone to the ER, thinking I'm having a heart attack.  The results are negative. I have been seen by 2 cardiologists and have had negative EKGs and stress Echos.  I do have a high CRP level  (about 5).  The cardiologists say I should check with my mental health professional since I have a history (controlled on meds) of depression.  Mentally, I feel good.
My psychiatrist says these are spontaneous panic attacks.  Then he says that I should make sure everything is okay with my heart.
One more part of my history that may be important - I have had herniated discs (C5-6-7) that have not bothered me for years.  I was in a carwreck and had MRIs.  I did physical therapy and was able to avoid surgery and relieve the pain. That was about 10 years ago.  I rarely have any neck pain now.
Does anyone have a similar experience or any ideas?  Thank you!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi,

Thanks for writing in.
It is possible that your symptoms are due to herniated discs. It is not necessary to have neck pain with herniated discs. I would suggest you to get a clinical evaluation done and may be an X ray of cervical spine to rule out any recent changes.
The possibility of panic attacks and over anxiety also cannot be ruled out. Since your cardio logical exam was normal, the possibility of heart disease is very less. However it will be better if you can keep your weight under control and make sure you are physically active.

Hope this helps!

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Avatar_f_tn
I could not believe it when I was reading your post.  I could have written your story as my own except for a few minor differences.  

I too am in my middle 50s, have a history of cervical spine problems, and have been brushed off by two doctors who said I am having an anxiety attack.
I have been experiencing sudden onset of extreme heaviness in both arms that is very painful; it is not a sharp pain, just hurts as if I had 100 pound weights hanging from my arms).  The pain lasts for only a minute or so and then subsides, but I am left with weakness for a few minutes or so and cannot hold anything in my hands during that time. My hands are usually shaky after these "episodes".  The pain is bilateral and both arms hurt at the same time, same intensity.  It almost always happens when I stand up from my desk and my arms go from a resting position at the keyboard to a standing position or when I am reaching for something. I also on occasion get weakness without the intense pain when I am blow drying or brushing my hair.  Sometimes I will get weakness in my arms when I am just out of bed and standing brushing my teeth.  

At first I was having the pain infrequently, every 2-3 months. I tend to have an episode or two one day, maybe another episode the next day, and then will not have any problems for the next 2 months.

I was concerned, but they passed quickly and did not return for months, so I thought I would just see if they progress into something more definitive.  After about a year of this happening off and on, I developed a new symptom; my hands curled up. I could not uncurl them and they were very painful.  This went away after a few minutes, but  I immediately went to my doctor and he said I was having an anxiety attack and hyperventilating and the hyperventilating was causing my hands to curl.  He put me on an antidepressant at that time.  I continued to have the arm episodes despite the antidepressant and he said "maybe I needed something stronger" and told me to breathe into a paper bag when I first felt symptoms come on.  Since I have a history of back problems, I have four neck fusions,  my spine is fused in the cervical areas C3-4, 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7, I felt that it was my spine, not anxiety, but I started breathing into a paper bag as he directed when my arms hurt.  I could not tell if it helped as the pain went away whether I used a paper bag or not.

I had my first prolonged episode two  weeks ago when the pain would go away but return every 10 minutes. My hands were curling too. I went to the Emergency room, told the doctor about my spine history, but since I was on antidepressants, he said I was having an anxiety/panic attack and called in a psych evaluation.  I was referred to a therapist, saw him twice, and he told me that what I was having was NOT panic or anxiety attacks and recommended I make an appointment with a neurologist.  I have an appointment next week and hopefully he will order an MRI.  I hope I do not have any more problems with my spine, but I also want to find out what is wrong with me and get it taken care of.  

I promise I will let you know the findings of my visit and hopefully it might shed some light on what is happening to you (which sounds so similar to my problem).
Take care.
CeeCee
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Avatar_n_tn
I have these same symptoms, but no back or spine trouble.  Please let me know if you get a diagnosis.
Michelle 57 years old
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Avatar_n_tn
It was like you were describing my 2 recent episodes it was like I had just worked out with a couple of hundred pound weights---both arms from my shoulder to my hands felt heavy.  Each arm hung by my side as I could not use or lift either one.  Nor could my hands held onto anything even if I wanted to.  Then this sensation seemed to travel thoughout my body.

Beckie ~~~ 61 years old.  I'm 5'5" and weigh 134 lbs.  I do have some minor issues with the neck area in the spine but in very good shape except for this.  I walk and workout several times a week.

Please post your results.....Thanks !
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Hello all.  I also have similar symptoms.  My arm discomfort is mostly left sided but I also have chest discomfort/pressure with it.  I also can go months in between episodes.  I have a had numerous EKG's, treadmill stress test, echo stress test, and a nuclear stress test.  All of the tests show that my heart is functioning fine, no evidence of CAD, but that I do have MVP.  My cardiologist and my PCP do not believe that the MVP is causing my problems though.  I also thoracic outlet syndrome on the left side, a hiatal hernia and GERD.  I am told anyone of those can cause my symptoms.  I am having extreme anxiety over this because all these symptoms are suggestive a heart condition but with all the tests I have had none of my doctors believe it is coming from my heart and they refuse to do anymore testing on my heart or anything else for that matter.  They have me on propranolol 20 mg bid and I was just recently prescribed Celexa 20 mg 1 a day and .5 Ativan PRN.  I don't want to start taking the anti-anxiety meds again, I took them for 2 years and was able to get off of them 4 years ago :-).  Oh, and I'm only 30 years old, I see the majority of you are over 50, so I guess I have to look forward to this for the rest of my life.  Hope everyone is well...

Shell
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Avatar_n_tn
I also have been having these episodes for about a year now off and on. I am a 42 year old female. I have no known health problems.  I first had this left arm pressure, squeezing and pressure across my chest. They last 1-2 minutes and then go away and I am fine. I will get one-  two in one day and then they go away and then out of the blue weeks or months later have another episode.  I have not been to a Doctor  (no health insurance).This site is the first one I have found with others describing the same episodes.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Okay, seems obvious that something is causal for all of us to have the same or similar symptoms.  What you have written is exactly what I have been feeling for the last couple of years.  I am a 52 year old female with no recorded back or spine problems.  I would certainly like to have someone identify what causes this.
When I told my husband about it, his worry was while I am driving a car.  First time I thought about that, but I certainly would not like for an episode to happen then.
Keep the posts coming, please.

Deb
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Avatar_n_tn
Are we all women having these episodes?  I think we are.  Perhaps a clue????
I have been experiencing these "episodes" for many years, although now they are more frequent and much more disturbing to me. They start with a heaviness in my arms and then my hands become shaky and unusable.  This is all followed by a tightness in my chest and then I experience a "wiped-out" feeling.
The doctor could fiind nothing wrong. I, too, have no back, spine or other problems. I take no medications and I am a healthy, active 52 year-old woman.
If anybody gets an answer please do us all a favor and post it.
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Me too! It has happened a few times, most recently this morning- a sudden onset heaviness of arms like each is a hundred pound weight, feeling starts mid arms, bilaterally and spreads to chest. It is disabling when it happens- I grabbed onto the kitchen chair for support this morning. Just as soon as I ponder "what the heck is going on- should I call for help," the feeling goes away. I am perimenopausal at 47. I am very healthy, although overweight. The only spinal problem I have is no cervical curve. I have frequent muscle spasms in my neck (like waking up after sleeping funny, where you can't move your head a certain way...)  I was very worried when it happened, but I gaurantee it was no panic or anxiety. I am one of the most low key, relaxed, stress free people I know. I thrive in a climate of change. I am an RN who loves the everday challenges of management and family. The panic didnt start until I felt the heaviness. The only other time this happened to me was after taking migraine medication (triptans, like imitrex, rellpax, maxalt) and these drugs are contraindicated where heart disease is suspected. Since these drugs brought this on in the past, I assume the problem to be an early cardiac warning... like a very mild angina. Or possibly a TIA,
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My hands are becoming unusable during these "episodes."  Anybody else?
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How is everyone's blood pressure?  I have had these same sort of episodes and my doctor thinks it is related to my blood pressure/blood sugar.  My episodes do tend to happen after I have been sitting or laying down and first stand up.
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I have been experiencing the same symptoms recently. The first one was three days ago. It scared me enough to call the nurse who wanted to call an ambulance for me. Since I have family history of heart disease, I agreed. I went to the ER and was there for quite a while. They did blood test, and EKG, and a chest X-ray and found nothing wrong. The said my EKG was prefect. I was slightly anemic, but not enough to worry them. (I was having my period during this). My blood pressure was also fine throughout this. I am 46 years old, and in very good shape, not overweight.

I am writing because I had another episode today. It is scary. Today the heaviness started in my chest, and went out to my arms. I do not know what is causing it but I wonder also if it is connected to sudden changes in blood pressure or even indigestion? After today's episode, I burped a lot, and both times I had been sitting shortly before getting up and moving.

Anyway, I have scheduled a follow-up with my primary doctor for next week. I was diagnosed with some osteo-arthritis in my neck a few years ago, at that time causing some pain in my left arm. I started doing yoga and that went away, but I do wonder if it is related to my spine or neck also.

It is a relief to learn that others have this. Thanks all for writing. If I learn anything else I will write again.

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Avatar_m_tn
I have been having the same symptons for several months, I am a 47 year old female with high blood pressure. This is scarry when it happens and I thought it was heart related, my father had heart diease and died 11 1/2 years ago from a massive heart attack and the age of 58. I feel stupid telling anybody about it but don't want to ignore it if it's something dangerous. I really don't know what to do?
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Avatar_n_tn
So, has anyone got any answers yet? Some of you write of your plans to visit a doctor. How did it go and has anyone discovered the cause of these symptoms?
My friend has the tightening in his chest followed by heaviness in hands and extreme fatigue that follows. Usually though everything starts with feelings of being hot from inside (like flushes).
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I was so happy that I found people with a similar problem. I have the same symptoms usually occurring when I reach forward. They come and go, last for about a minute yet there maybe months between episodes. I most often get them when at the computer and they scare me. I have had a neck injury too. Mine start in the upper arm and spread to the chest and sometimes forearm, it feels really heavy but is not exactly painful. I lift my arms over my head to ease it and walk around until it's over. Does anyone have any Idea what it is yet?
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 49 y.o. female with the same symptoms. It has happened about 4 times for me, once every month or two. A feeling of heaviness in both arms (although left feels a little more intense), and pressure in the chest, and a slight dizzy/fatigued feeling. I haven't pinpointed a specific thing that brings it on, although I don't think it could be anxiety/panic episode, etc., because it can occur when I'm in a perfectly fine mood, out of the blue. It happened tonight when I was talking to my husband happily about how cute our dog is. It passes after a few minutes. I just sit quietly and breathe slowly until it passes, hoping I'm not having a heart attack, wondering if I should call 911. I have had neck and upper back issues for years. I am overweight (working on it), and can on occasion have problems with high blood pressure. Glad to know I'm not alone, but wish we had some answers.
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I am a 64 year old healthy woman - work out every day and have for 40 years - do Bikram Yoga regularly.  I have the bi-lateral arm pain/heaviness/fatigue episodes (exactly as CeCe describes above) that last for between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.  My hands feel trembly but aren't totally useless.  I feel nothing in my chest.  I can't really function normally when the episodes occur - I just sit and let them pass.  They've been happening for over 3-4 years.  

I went to a neurologist who said I had carpal tunnel syndrome ... I wore the carpal "gloves" at night for several months - no change in the episodes.  Plus I have none of the carpal symptoms at all.  

Do any of you have migraines as well?  My internist thinks that the "episodes" may be related to migraines...
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, I completely understand your concern and share the same symptoms.

Having spent three decades doing medical documentaries -- and two decades having an incurable pain condition -- I strongly suspect what you have is called "hyperneuropathy."  

I'd like to suggest you go to a pain clinic (even though what you're experiencing is more heaviness than pain). They have a number of ways to treat it and are almost certainly going to be best at diagnosing it.

If you need help finding the best pain clinic in your area, please let me know. I'll be happy to help you find one.

Mary
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I just had my first experience with this  today.  Mine  happened so fast and  only lasted a  few  minutes  but  was  enough to scare the  daylights out of me.  By the  time I thought I might need to go to the  Dr.,  it was  over.  It seemed to start above my elbows and go down toward my hands the  first time and then the  second one, not as  severe, seemed to radiate toward my chest and the  middle of my back, as it was  easing up.   I have Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Osteoarthiritis in neck and  lower back.  I also  suffer  from  Migraines  but did not  have one  today.  I am having some  allergy  problems and  all over muscle  pain from spending Saturday walking out in the  heat.
So some of our symptoms are similar,  50 year old over weight female, with  Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Osteoarthiritis in neck and  lower back, suffers  from migraines, allergies.   appreciate your postings on this  subject..
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I am a 58 year old female and found this forum by searching. I think so  much of what we are experiencing is the same, and some of mine is different. I searched for heaviness in arms. This is what has been going on with me. For about a a week I had sudden and very brief chest spasms. It was right at the front of mu chest and lasted about a second. When it occurred the last time, both arms tingled. I went to the ER and they found nothing, I have had all the heart tests and they all come back normal. I do have carpal tunnel and I also have some bad discs at C5, C6, C7, cause by a slip and fall. The heaviness I feel in my arms, doesn't go along with my the chest pain, at least it doesn't happen at the same time, though I suppose could be related. My arms aren't numb, they just feel heavy and hang like they belong to someone else. I haven't lost use or control of them. My shoulders and neck are sore and painful when I move, and sometimes I have a tight feeling on the side of my face and neck. I have also had pain in my tongue when moving my head and neck. The last ER doc told me he thought the chest pain was connected to my back and shoulders and told me to take Advil. It was nice to find this forum and to know that I am not the only one going through this stuff.
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If there is a doctor out there in cyberland visiting this site PLEASE help us! I am 49, recently I have been getting the heavy achy arm syndrome...bilaterally. I have been to my PCP c/o of  my symptoms which also includes the feeling of someone putting a fist in my chest. There is nothing I can narrow down to that seems like a pattern when this happens. I can wake up by it, have it while watching tv, driving, in shower and so on...it is for a brief amount of time. I have taken my BP when this happens and it is elevated. my PCP referred me to neurologist for nerve study. When I saw my cardiologist a few months ago...which led to hospital admit, he blew off my complaint of bilateral arm pain saying it is probably something to do with spine. I am at wits end...this is annoying more than anything, a bit scary, yes...I have a gut feeling it's related to heart but who am I?
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Avatar_f_tn
I began with the same/similar problems about 2 weeks ago now. I was sent to to the ER and underwent x-rays, blood tests, heart tests (as the ER Dr thought I was having a heartattack) but the results were negative. It stopped for a couple of days and then came back like gangbusters. It stopped for a day and has been fairly constant since.  My neurologist says I have peripheral neuropathy and put me on gabapentin. I have been on it for the past 3 yrs. I just had an MRI and I have had several CTscans etc. NOTHING!! This is so debilitating. The chest pain is horrific and feels like something is trying to tear my chest apart. Extreme heaviness is my arms but seems to affect the left arm a bit more than the right. I am exhausted after it is over and the heaviness in my arms lasts for some time. I cannot lay down the pain in my chest, makes me sit right back up.  I was very happy to find this website and desperately hope one will have the answer.  I do have other medical issues, high BP controlled with meds.  Please if someone knows what this is all about, give us the reason. It happens several times a day and often wakes me up in the morning. Non-stop now for the past week. I am scared to go anywhere or to drive my car as I am worried that it will happen when I am out somewhere, it is consuming my life!  I need some answers or suggestions on how to stop this.  Good luck everyone, in our search for a cure or antidote.
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I had one similar episode too!  Am 57, no history of heart problems.  I have a minor neck problem seen on CT.  Have had carpal tunnel surgery on one wrist and get minor carpal tunnel symptoms on the other wrist.  I experienced the aching/heaviness of the arms while I was sitting at dinner, and a heaviness across the chest - just lasted maybe 30-60 seconds.  But this was not at all like any arm pain I experienced with carpal tunnel.   Normally my blood pressure is low-normal.  My Dad died young of heart disease, age 72, first heart attack in his 50's, and his Dad died in his 60's of heart disease.  I am a bit "high strung" but never have needed treatment for anxiety/depression.  And this didn't seem related to any emotional issues.  Haven't been to my doctor about it.  But clearly I am not alone!  hmmm..... looking forward to other posts.  Jo
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had only 2 of these episodes so far, one a few days ago and one today.  Extreme sudden weakness and heaviness in both arms with an intense tingling and pain, especially in the shoulder joints.  A hot flushing feeling too.  I also have a tight feeling in the skin of my neck and cheeks. The only thing I can think that it would be caused from is the problems I have in my cervical vertebrae. One episode I was standing using my arms and today I was sitting at the computer. In both episodes my arms were out in  front of me.  I too am terrified that this could happen while driving.  I'm 43 with psoriatic arthritis and no none BP or heart issues.  It seems the thing we all have in common is the neck issue.  Maybe a sudden pinched nerve of the spine??  I will ask my rheum. at my next visit and if she thinks its the neck deal I will post here.
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I must be the first male to post with the same issue. I am 47 years old and this started for me this past April. Mine started while on vacation - did not say anything to the wife and kids as I didn't want to ruin the visit. Started with bilateral heaviness in both arms (started at the forearms and traveled up to the shoulder and across chest, then went to my head causing dizziness - I then broke out into a sweat.) The first episode lasted maybe 40-45 seconds and then just went away. I was scared but chalked it up to an isolated incident. (The thought of heart attack or stroke was on my mind, though the rest of the vacation)

After being home for about 2 weeks, I had another one, the hospital admitted me, and kept me for 3 days - they ruled out cardio and stroke and said that they felt it was neurological and that finding the cause would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I had almost every test imaginable and it appears that they ruled out cardio and stroke. The doctors did mention the possibility of MS - but said there is not definitive test for MS. I am concerned as, although it is not hereditary, the chances increase if you have it in your family. (I have two 1st cousins and one-2nd cousin on my mother's side that have MS)

I'm a type 2 diabetic and my readings have been in the normal range after the episodes (I check them after every one to be sure) I followed up with a cardiologist who feels it's the diabetes, but my endocrinologist said that it's not related to the diabetes.

Of the many tests - I discovered the following (which all the doctors agreed is normal for someone my age):

1) Calcified protrusion on spine
2) Minor bulging of disk between C4 and C5
3) Leaking heart valve
4) Brain lesions (from either high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes)

I am not overweight and the diabetes is hereditary - I am 5' 11' - 162 lbs and have high cholesterol (under control with meds and diet). I am active and run 5 miles 3-4 days a week.

The two most recent episodes have lasted longer and the one I had today after traveling from my arms to my chest, traveled to the area between my shoulder blades and then to my head and lasted longer than the others (apx. 1 to 1 1/2 minutes).

It would be nice if someone would post if they had an actual diagnosis so we all could have it checked.

I am now checking into seeing a neurologist who specializes in MS (hopefully to rule it out) and will post with my results.

As a side note: I had a problem about a year ago with not being able to lift a glass to drink with either hand - this also included pain in the forearms. (I had to use both hands to lift a glass to take a drink - it lasted a few days and would go away and then come back weeks later. I chalked it up to the statin I was taking for high cholesterol and assumed this was the cause as the symptoms disappeared once I changed the medication. The doctors told me that the statin could not be the cause of the new/or expanded episodes as it is not in my system any longer. Could the problem with the forearm and hands not being able to lift be a symptom others have had?
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Avatar_f_tn
Phew...it is so good to know that I am not alone with this! I am a 59 y.o woman experiencing sudden heaviness in chest that leaves my chest very quickly and radiates bilaterally to my arms. Episodes last about a minute...except this last one. Lingering heaviness for 2 days now. I am healthy, active, have had full battery of heart checks and passed all with flying colors. I have no spinal injury. I am not anxious or depressed. My episodes follow absolutely no pattern...just out of the blue. I would love to hear if anyone who has posted if you have had any news.  
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Avatar_m_tn
No update as of yet. I have a Neuro Appt on Jan 5, 2012 and will update then.
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Avatar_m_tn
No update as of yet. I have a Neuro Appt on Jan 5, 2012 and will update then.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for letting me know i am not the only one experiencing this.  I had a bad attack today.  I teach first grade and when this happens at work it really scares me.  I have to sit down and rest after an attack. Not easy when surrounded by 6 year olds! At first it was sudden and then gone.  Over the last 4 month it has progressed to about once a week and while the intensity lasts about 2-3 minutes, My hands shake badly so I can't write and I am weak and shaky for a few hours and i feel very "off" for the rest of the day.  I made an appointment with my doctor today after this spell.  I am fearful she won't find anything.  Not that I want to be sick, i want answers and a way to make this stop!  I can't stop it if I don't know what it is.  If anyone gets any answers, please post!
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Wow, I have been experiencing chest tightness, heavy arms and dizziness for three months now. I have episodes almost daily which are usually brought on with exertion. When I say exertion,  I mean showering, walking to my car or trying to make myself a sandwich. I am a 47 year old female with no previous health problems, not over weight, great BP, no cholesterol and no family history of heart disease. I did have an angiogram which was negative but three tests were abnormal: stress test showed ST segment depression at rest, holter monitor showed ST egment depression and T wave inversion and ultrasound showed mild septal wall hypokinesis. But even with that, the cardiologist says it isn't my heart and my doctor recommended anxiety medication ( which has not helped). I am at my wits end. Just nice to see I am not alone.
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I just starting having these same symptoms yesterday.  It was a terrifying feeling because I thought I was having a heart attack at 31.  I am a fit person (exercise 3-5 times a week) and I eat pretty healthy (cheat once in a while).  I also have a herniated disk in my neck that has been bothering me for years.  I am so relieved that you wrote this article.  I have not seen a doctor about it yet but I know this is not anxiety or stress.  I hate how the doctors assume that, since they can not figure out the real cause of the problem, it has to be mental.  I think that is too much of an easy fix for doctors today.  Instead of continuing to try to figure out the real cause, they just put everyone on anti-depression medicine.  Then the people that really need this type of medicine do not believe that they do because it is handed out too much.  If anyone finds out what is causing our syptoms (symptoms), please post asap.  Thank you!!!
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hyperneuropathy is a thyroid related disease, I have had mine checked recently because of "female problems" and it was fine.
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Just out of curiousity, do any of you have "female problems"???  I am just trying to figure out a common between all of us.  I know most of us have some sort of spinal issues but others do not so it is just another possibility.
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Avatar_m_tn
The arm heaviness happened for the 2nd time an hour ago.  It's kind of scarey but goes away quickly.

I have had arthritis in C3 and C4 of my neck for over 20 years.

I am in my 50's and have "female problems" big time.
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i had an this happen to me one day out of the blue about a month ago.   i  had heaviness in my arms and felt funny and thought i was having a heart attack.  i was scared to death.  i left it go for about 2 weeks while  having  them on and off.  finally in the car one day it happened. i got so scared i called 911.  went to the hospital.  they did all kinds of test and didnt find anything.   i did not have a heart attack,  all my blood work came back normal.  nothing.   about 3 days later it happened again.  i was alone and really felt it in my chest more then the last time and i thought i couldnt pick up the phone.  i called 911.  the ambulance came and they told me i was having a panick attack.   i am 55 and starting to go through menapause.  i didnt get my period for 6 months and a month ago there it was.  i was fine for awhile and now it is happening again. my period is due in 5 days.  i think it might be  hormone related especially since it is worse around the time i am to get or have my perioc.  since  most of use are women also.   i dont know but my arms feel funny all the time afterwards.   its like its always there in my arms.   but i am very glad to hear i am not the only one going through this.   i also am worried it is something else.   i wish we had answers.    
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I have also began experiencing these episodes, mine also starts in the arms both at the same time. They feel very heavy followed by tingling. Pain/tightness  starts in the chest then a pain between shoulder blades. The first one occurred when I was shopping and, like everyone else seemed to subside just when I thought I was going to have to ask someone to call 911. The second one occurred when I was driving and had both grandchildren in the car with me. Thank god I was at a red light and was able to move my arms/hands when the color changed. This was yesterday and my hands are still shaky today and arms, esp left, feel weak. I did call my daughter this time because I though I was having a heart attack and she was just around the corner. But by this time most symptoms had left.

I am 52, a little overweight, menopausal for about a year with cycle problems. Recently diagnosed with diabetes managing with diet and exercise. No diagnosed back problems but back hurts all the time. Blood pressure is up and down, not on medication for it. also have asthma and chronic anemia.

Haven't been to doctor yet.
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Avatar_f_tn
I too am experiencing similar symptoms that have just started in the past 2 days. I get the extreme heaviness and pain in both arms almost like fatigue, with a painful tightening in my chest just above my breasts. I have been keeping track of time in between bouts as well as duration. They come about 15- 20 min apart and last anywhere from 2-8 min. I am in my early 40s and have no family history for expected menopause(all close female family have passed on before reaching 50) If this is hormonal related, how do we get it diagnosed and treated..
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Seen doctor yesterday was told it is either cervical spine or heart issues, ex-rays were taken and I have an appointment with a cardiologist next Thursday. My doctor did tell me that it is unlikely anything to do with the brain since those type of problems affect one side or the other, not both at the same time.
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UPDATE - I did follow through and go to a neurologist. He ran several tests on the nerves in my hands, fingers and forearms and aside from telling me that I have carpel tunnel syndrome in my left hand/wrist - he gave me no explanation for the episodes. He wanted me to have follow-up appointments, but I didn't bother as I think it was a waste of time.

I thought I had this thing beat as I haven't had an episode in close to 7 months. I gradually increased my running distance and frequency and now vary from 3 miles to 10 miles and run at least 4 days a week. My BP has always been great as well as my resting heart rate. The diabetes is in control with medication and low carb/no carb diet.

Today I had an episode which literally brought me to my knees. The bilateral arm heaviness/numbness which started at the forearms and then went to the biceps and traveled to my chest. The episode lasted 3-4 minutes and was the longest and most severe yet. My glucose reading was within range this moring and has not been out of range - I keep a daily log and check my levels at least twice a day.

I have been going to a cardiologist regulary due to the family history of cardio issues - although I come back with no issues and the cardiologist feels it due to the diabetes. As I said before, the endocronlogist feels the episodes are heart related.

Still baffled!

Has anyone made any headway in learning the cause???

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I had a heart cath, everything fine with the heart. Had cervical spine x-rays: showed degenerative narrowing of the spaces from C2 to T1 and osteopathy, basically I have no curvature in my neck like I am supposed to causing the spine to compress against the nerves to my arms. Have been going to a chiropractor and it has helped tremendously. Have had no pain, occasionally have strange feeling in arms and some tingling, weakness but not like it was. I have one more week of therapy with the chiropractor (  see him 3x a week for 4 weeks ) then will be re-evaluated.
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I got now answeres from my family doctor or my neurologist. So, I have followed up the my orthopedic doctor.  He said that these symptoms were due to the herniated disc in my neck.  It was causing muscle spasms and nerve pinching.  I got a few shots in my trigger points and have not had these specific symptoms since.  I have also received tremendous relief for most of my other syptoms (symptoms).  Therefore, I suggest finding a good orthopedic doctor in your area that is willing to take the time to listen to all of your syptoms (symptoms).  I think most doctors are in too much of a hurry to get to the next patient and do not hear everything you are trying to tell them.
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Thanks for your reply! I plan on following up with an orthopedic doctor as well as a chriopractor - something's gotta work!
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It seems we both got the same response, a bunch of tests with a clean bill of health, but no answers to the cause. Thanks for your reply - I am going to follow-up with an ortho and chiropractor. Hopefully, one of them will work, I will report back with an update for all.
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Hello everyone!

Like to check with joe how's his follow up with his treatment..

I experience similar aches, loss of feelings on fingers & toes, neck, thorasic, lumber discomfort, mostly on the left side, though at times the right is affected too.  

My previously frozen shoulder is much better now though 'adjusting' it by lifting hand in different positions seems to affect my breathing issue.  I now relieve myself thru this whenever it happens.

Xrays show that my spine has some degenerations so I believe it's all from there.

Wonder how's everyone now, pray all is well & getting better.

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Hi, eveyone!

Another update

After going for my regular cardiologist appointment - I told him what the neurologist had done and said. My cardiologist was not happy with the response and insisted that I go to a neurologist he recommended at the University of Penn. (my family doctor recommended the first neurologist)

I had my appointment today and this neurologist feels that all my problems as caused by vascular issues, which is causing a decrease of blood flow to my spine and neck. Still unknown what is causing the vascular issue.

He went on further to tell me that by looking at my medical history, labs and films that he believes the initial problem I had with my right hand/arm not working was all due to a stroke. I was surprised to hear this as I thought it was due to the "Crestor" or possibly work related - I did get a cortizone shot after about a week and I began to regain use of my right arm/hand. He told me that the loss of use of the right hand/arm was definetely a stroke in his opinion - based on what he sees.

I told him that I thought I had this problem beat, as I had not had an episode for 7 months. He replied by telling me that he looked at my charts and noticed that I started aspirin therapy apx. 7 months ago and he feels that this is what kept the problem at bay. He asked me if I sometimes forget and skip a dose and I told him that sometimes I do and he said, "That may have been the night before you had the most recent episode." I agreed that it might have been. He stressed that I must take the aspirin every night to reduce the risk of stroke.

I am supposed to take two baby aspirins (81mg) at night with my Niaspan - I was hesitant at first to take it as the Niaspan causes flushing, which can be uncomfortable and wake you up at night. The other reason I may forget is that I take it late at night – so, if I do flush, the flushing occurs at night and will not be visible to anyone; the drawback to this is that sometimes I fall asleep before I take the Niaspan and Aspirin.

The next step is for them to do a MRA? on my brain and neck. The only hurdle is that my insurance company appears to be debating whether I need it or not (I seems they are trying to avoid paying for it as they spent a lot of money on the last round of tests in May/2011)

Thanks! I'll keep everyone posted.
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hi there you ...I am sure having panic attacks......I know it took me 2 years with all them same problems....now they put me on 10mg celixa and i am doing better
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I had these symptoms for over 7 yrs. I am only 25 with a autoimmune disease of the thyroid called hashimotos thyroiditis. About 6 months ago while working i had a episode that just did not stop. About a hour in i finally decided to go in. After years of ekg tests the emergency room doctor figured it out. Women tend to have disassociated pain as he explained to me. Come to find out all those years i had gall bladder stones by the time they figured it out i had a stone the size of a golf ball and almost died. I was rushed in for emergency surgery and for the first time i feel healthy in years. I hope this helps u ladies good luck and get better soon
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Has anyone considered hormones? Doctors know so little about all of the symptoms of menopause. I am 51 and have had about a half a dozen of these attacks in the last week. The neck problems make sense to me also, as well as the panic attacks.
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Found all these today.  59 year old male with same symptoms.  Heavy arms, pain chest area.  Pain feels closer to the surface than internal.  Not overweight.  Attacks last 2-3 minutes.  Last 2 attacks feel longer.  Hard to buy an anxiety attack.  Hi cholesterol and BP all controlled with meds.  No one here discussing their meds.  I take diovan and 2 babybaspirin daily.  No upper disc issues.  I have had heart issues ruled out with many tests including EKG, stress, echo, and cath.  Exercise regular.  Am very active.  
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I've had two of these episodes. Very sudden in onset, lasting only 5-10 seconds but very concerning. I had fusion of my C7-T1 about 3 years ago and I believe the symptoms are related to the spinal stenosis that is there at several levels of my cervical spine. Male. 65 yo. Very active and healthy otherwise. Retired physician. I suspect there may be many etiologies of the above mentioned problems, but spinal problems seem to be in the majority of cases. My best to all.
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Hello everyone who has contributed to this thread.
I am a male, b. August 1944, English, correct weight, follow the Hay System of dietary (separation of proteins and carbohydrates) and feel healthy and happy.
I experience all of the above symptoms described by contributors so no need to repeat them. May I suggest that these symptoms are not necessarily 'female problems' as suggested by kamoran on the 14th February 2012 above. I am definitely not female and do outside, outback type work.
As a positive suggestion from me as a lay person in the absence of any useful medical professional ones by personal finding locally, may I respectfully suggest please, that a possible cause of these, at times, dreadfully distressing symptoms may lie in something to do with incorrect/deficient, blood-sugar levels??? I used to have withering debilitating spasms of sudden total loss of strength accompanied by faintness but without those I experience now and my physician said I was describing classic symptoms of low blood-sugar levels and instructed that the next time I had one, I should eat a chocolate bar as an immediate fix and attend to my diet with greater integrity. On the positive side he further stated that I should be to a degree pleased in that it demonstrated that my liver is in good shape? I was not easily consoled.
Since the present symptoms we all experience bear a vague resemblance to those I have described above, is it not suggestible that all of us could then reasonably consider there to be maybe a connection and that one possible avenue of exploration might be to consult ones' physician and ask whether she/he considers that blood sugar levels might be examined?
I only 'suggest' this because I am a rugged type of worker, despite the fact that I am past retiring age and not a highly qualified intellectual with an enquiring mind whose opinion might be of greater value than mine?
I am a regular blood donor although at the last session, my iron level was down and a donation was declined. Possibly readers may consider asking to have their blood generally checked for iron deficiency as well as blood sugar levels? I would definitely like to stress to anyone reading that I discovered, the hard way, that just taking supplements without consultation is not a very intelligent thing to do. For a male (for instance) taking fish oil supplements has been proven to increase the chances of the development of prostate cancer, with fairly persuasive figures to back up this contention so I have resumed 'life without supplements' and merely take Vitamin D, Green Tea Extract, odourless garlic and cranberry extract.
I do hope this contribution is of interest and/or helps - with apologies for being somewhat longwinded.
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Out of all these stories, only you two mention one of my symptoms - the feeling of blood pressure cuffs on both arms being squeezed too tightly.  I'm  a 66 years old woman in good health and very active, taking no medications.  I suddenly get a strange "sensation" in my right arm, and within seconds a tightness and pain grips my right arm between the shoulder and elbow (like blood pressure being taken) and travels right down my arm to the hand.  A second or two after this starts on the right arm it happens to the left arm.  There is then extreme weakness in both arms and I have to drop my arms and stand still, unable to do anything with my arms or hands, until these feeling pass - usually in a minute or two.  My arms then feel weak for a few minutes more.  These episodes can occur at any time whether I am sitting, walking, driving, doing anything or nothing.  They occur at random, maybe once a fortnight or once a month or two months. But it virtually paralyses me for those minutes.  There is no burning or tingling or pain in my chest.      
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I have the same thing and had it happen today and I know why. Here's the deal with this situation we all seem to be facing.  It all comes down to how and what you are sleeping on. It's a nerve issue plain and simple. If you do this simple exercise daily it will never happen again. I notice when it hit if I STREACH it would leave. What you do is sit down bend over grab your right knee with your left hand then at the same time take your right hand and grab your left shoulder and stretch, repeat with opposite hand ,knee and shoulder and I bet it will not happen again. Do this every morning once you wake up and it will never happen again.
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Hi, you all have described my symptoms to a T.  It started about 2-2 1/2 years ago.  Just when I decided to keep track of how often it happened, it stopped.  I didn't have another for about a year to year and a half.  A few months ago it started again.  It's progressively getting worse.  It used to be just my arms, then the back of my neck started tightening along with the arm pain, and the last one I had last night is when I felt the tightening in my chest.  I was very worried and thought about going to the ER.  I have a Dr.s appt. Monday, so I might just hold off on the ER after reading your posts.  If I find out anything different from you all I will let you know.
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Thank you all for posting! I've googled my symptoms several times, but this is the first time I have found this group. I am somehow comforted that I am not alone in this.

I just had another episode (yes, googled again and that's how I found y'all) - I am a healthy 52 year old woman. I am not overweight, I exercise (mostly walking), and eat right most of the time. I read with interest the recent posts about blood sugar (pondering1) and nerves (briktop) - I suppose they both could be true for me. I get my blood sugar checked annually without incident, but I know how blood sugar levels can fluctuate. I'll also give the stretching a try - couldn't hurt.

I'll post further if I have anything useful to say. Thanks again to all.
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49 yo woman having similar symptoms.  No female or back problems but moderate carpal tunnel issues.  Tightness starts in chest, radiates to both arms.  Tingling, weird feeling.  Sometimes I can bring it on by over stretching my chest.  I work out 3-5 days a week and thought it was muscular but not so sure.  It feels more like anxiety.  Comes out of nowhere.  Lasts only a minute or less.
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So glad to find this group. 48 year old male. Overweight with lots of back (surgically repaired with harrington rods and bone fusion) and some neck issues. First attack was today. Thought I was having a heart attack. Chest tightness with immediate weakness/heaviness in both arms at the same time. Last attack happened a few hours later and I also felt a twinge in my upper mid back just below the base of my neck. When the first one hit I was reading internet articles on my iPhone so am now thinking that maybe it was a pinched nerve in my neck. Just had an MRI and plain xrays on my low back this morning.  Some of the positions they had me in for the plain xrays were painful like I was cramping some nerves in my lumbar spine. See my neurologist Friday for a check up on my low back pain but will share these symptoms as well. SO relieved to hear it's not heart related. I will be going to a fitness camp for two weeks starting next Wednesday and was freaked out that I was having a heart attack before I even left.
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At the end of your comments, you had promised to post an update about your upcoming doctor's visit in a few days (this was back in 2009) but I did not see your update.  I'm hoping you can shed some light as I just had this episode 15 minutes ago. Thank you!
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I don't remember the first time I had these symtoms (symptoms) but I have started a journal to keep note of when it occurs and the duration.  A visit to the doctor, I am afraid would tell me nothing and probably have me on a medication with side effects wores than my current concerns..  Yes, I am a male 58 years old and active.  Known health issues, DVT about 2 years ago and found to be homozygous for factor V Leiden, an inherited clotting disorder.  I was on coumodin for a year but now take a daily baby aspirin and stay active and well hydrated to avoid another clot. The last two episodes, about a week apart came while I was walking my dogs, duration of maybe 20 to 30 seconds.  I raise my arms over my head or cross my arms across my chest to ease the weird feeling.  Don't know if it shortens the episode or just a natural response.  I am going to begin stretching before any physical activity to see if that helps.
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Well, It is nice I guess to see others have had these symptoms. I am a male age 50 average shape, BP is good, have had laser spine surgery on my neck. My symptoms are the same, tightness around the chest, upper arms ache slightly and feel heavy. I have had this occur randomly with months between them. This time I was sitting at my desk doing paperwork and not stressed at all. I take Diovan and Zoloft. And I really do not buy the anxiety attacks, I have had those in my past.
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your symptoms are exactly the same as mine.  Did you ever get a diagnosis?
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Me too me too, all of it right down to painful and uncooperative hands, I thought I was having a heart attack, I have so many diseases that reading your post probably saved me no end of worry and money, thank you. I have crohns, fibromyalgia and compressed discs, a history of panic attacks that felt nothing like this and that have not happened in many years; I have Chronic fatigue Immune Dysfunction, carpal tunnel, permanent nerve damage in my hand due to it, very mild stuff, does not bother me since I went out on disability and am not writing on a laptop all day, etc and so forth, I was keeping this a secret, silly and stupid I know, but the family outside of my son just do not get it and assume I should still be working and keeping the house and yard as clean and organized as I did before I got sick, so, I have to stop going to them for support... I am 58. Thank you all, for once again being treated badly but able to post about it and empower the ones that follow.
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I've read so many of these and would like to throw this out there. I suffer the same like many of you and found answers. Here's what my doctors found out after $37,000 in tests and three years of suffering.#1) I am vitamin d deficient ( I was surprised to see how bad this messes people up) Doctors will not test for this unless you ask. Check out this link for what other people are going through.http://www.medhelp.org/posts/recovery-after-vitamin-D-deficiency/Vitamin-D-deficiency--symptoms/show/1257522

#2) I was aggravating the situation with my smart phone. Constantly on it really affected my alignment.  I noticed I got worse after getting my first smart phone.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8811596/Mobile-phone-users-suffering-from-text-neck.html
#3) I was using extra pillows which again aggravated it even more.

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While standing bend over and grab your opposite knee with each hand. So left hand to right knee and right hand to left knee. Now hold on to those knees and slowly straighten up rolling your back as you do. Feel that stretch. Do this everyday. I swear by it.
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I too am having these symptoms... and have not yet consulted a doctor.  But an online search yielded this result: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

http://www.bodyandbalancecenter.com/pgs/s_tos1.html  

As I am a teacher/librarian who routinely carries multiple heavy bags, this could be a possibility.

Hope this proves helpful to someone.....
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Avatar_m_tn
I, too, have had these symptoms. Tingling down both arms and some compression in my chest. Had them periodically for about 2 years. I'm a 59 year old woman who is pretty healthy and active. But when these symptoms happen, both arms go limp and weak and tingling pain and pain down to finger tips. It last for a few minutes, probably less than 5 minutes. Had two episodes within 3 days. This concerned me cause usually they are a couple months apart. Trip to ER proved not heart related. Had MRI of neck cause I have an old injury to my neck from car accident 25 years ago. Just arthritis. Now, off for an EMG in a couple weeks. I will continue to pursue. I'm thankful for this website & will continue to keep you posted.
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I just turned 50 and have had this happen twice.  Both times I was standing up from a seated position.  Very intense pain down both arms and a feeling of heaviness in both arms and middle of my chest.  I am in good health with checkups about every 6 months.  I've had low blood pressure most of my life and am not overweight.  Recently had my thyroid checked and it is fine.  I know anxiety attacks and this is in no way related to one of those.  I'm thankful to hear that it is probably not a heart attack which crossed my mind.  As I type this my hands/arms feel a bit weak and tingly as I had one this morning.  Super scary.  I do look at my phone and tablet a lot.  I've heard this can hurt your neck, but the pinched nerve sounds reasonable.  It feels more like blood flow to me with the pressure and heaviness.  Will look up all of the terms you have been given and look forward to finding out what is happening to us.

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