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Chronic back/neck/chest pain - Any input?
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Chronic back/neck/chest pain - Any input?

I'm a 23 year old female. Since the beginning of August I've been having some pretty bad back/chest/neck pain...and no one can seem to tell me what's wrong, other than that I obviously hurt myself somehow, or that I have badly pinched nerves. Which may be true...

It all started at the beginning of August when I was at my desk working (doing some painting work on a mold, as I'm an artist) and suddenly I got a sharp pain on the left side of my chest. It seemed to be more where the underarm area would be--that stretch of muscle that connects from the under the arm to the top part of the breast? Well anyway, it lasted a few seconds...then went away and I didn't think much of it. It left me a tiny bit sore, but no breathing problems or heart racing issues, or anything like that. The next morning I woke up with awful pain/tenderness in my chest and underarm...and being the the kind of person I am, I tried to go without taking any kind of medications for the pain...which just made the pain more dramatic. After about a week, I still had the pain...and then pain in my neck started to follow. When I would turn it a certain way I would get sharp pains that went down my spine and left a tingling feeling. The combination of all of these had me extremely worried, so I visited the ER (3 times) and each time they ruled out that it was heart related. I was given echo, 3 chest x-rays, 3 EKG's, CT scans, etc. I also saw my personal doctor twice, and he gave me those same tests along with blood work, and blood pressure tests. He said everything was normal...he did a pain pinpoint test on me, and told me that it appeared that I must have really hurt myself somehow. Both in my neck and back...I was also told that it could possibly be Chestwall Syndrome or something of the sort, perhaps something with my ribs, because when I breathe it hurts sometimes. I was given pain killers...and told there wasn't much else I can do but take them, and apply heat and try not to make it worse. I also have extreme amounts of anxiety...and he said that could make it worse, too.

I'm just wondering...should I trust this advice? I don't want to sound paranoid, but I am a bit of a hypochondriac, and any pain in the back/chest is going to make a person nervous. Plus, it's been almost 3 months and I'm still having pain. It changes from dull to bad depending on how active I am. The pain killers work decently, but not completely. (but then again, I'm not taking the amount I was told to take) Like I said, it hurts sometimes when I inhale and it makes my chest expand, also certain areas ache when I push down on them...such as the sides of my chest/breast or in the center. I also have a CONSTANT popping/cracking sound in my back (between the shoulder blades).

Like I said, I'm an artist and do a lot of sketching/painting work that usually has me hunched over a desk or table, as well as working on computers a lot, and being a photographer...which has me bending and all kinds of weird stuff.

Given all this information...does it sound heart related at all? If not, how long can injuries like this last?
I'm just nervous and need advise. I'm not sure what I can do to make this chronic pain go away.


This discussion is related to Chronic chest pain for the last few days?.
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4 Comments Post a Comment
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hello Toumie,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. I am glad that you found us but sorry to hear about your chronic pain.

Have you had an MRI of your spine?  I am not an expert but in my personal opinion if you injured the a structure of the spine it may account for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Based on the negative repeated cardiac testing that has been done I don't think your symptoms are heart related but again I am far from an expert. I would think that if it were cardiac than one of the multiple physicians that you have seen would have picked up on something. When my mom had a cardiac problem she saw 4 physicians during one  chest pain episode. Three of the four physicians thought she had enough evidence of a cardiac problem that she should be seen by a cardiologist. (Only her PCP disagreed.)  Long story short she required open heart surgery. The point of this story is to reassure you that in my opinion one of the physicians you saw would have spoke up if there was any suspicion that your symptoms could be cardiac related.  

So don't give up. Keep looking for the reason for your pain but I think I would look elsewhere than the heart. Please let us know how you are doing. Best of luck to you and please take care.

Peace,
Tuck
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello,

I would ask the PM doc to prescribe an EMG test upper arm and lower arm. This will rule out many things including carpel tunnell, and radial nerve inpingement. This test is a 2 part test and is done usually by a neurologist. good luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you both for your replies, and sharing your input and wisdom.

I'll have to ask my doctor about an MRI and a EMG, and see what I can do about getting one or both done.

This pain is really getting to me and it so very annoying. I'm pretty sure this isn't heart related because of how "external" the pain feels. I mean I can literally touch my chest and it hurts, or bending forward, and the worst pain comes from sitting at my desk, because sadly, I hunch...and when I sit up straight after hunching, something between my shoulder/blades pops. There's also a popping sound that comes from my chest, too. Which is just plain weird.

The fact that these basic things hurt me, but running/jogging (things that get my heart racing) do not bother me, is kind of making me believe that the doctors were right. I guess I'm just really nervous when it comes to chest/back pain. I lost quite a few members in my family to heart related issues, so I'm overly paranoid.

I'll keep searching, though. If anyone else has some input, please comment!

Again, thank you both!
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Avatar_f_tn
Go to www.mitralvalveprolapse.com I'm not sure but it sounds similar to something I have.  I was diagnosed with it after a back surgery. I thought it was completely heart related but in researching it I've found it seems to be more central nervous system imbalance.   And can cause symptoms like heart disease. For me my central nervous system has been affected in many different ways, trauma (physical and emotional) and surgeries. I also have chronic pain.  I don't know your situation but take a look at this website and see if it helps you at all. Keep in mind trauma to your body and be in the form of "emotional" and there may not be visible scars but can affect your central nervous system in ways we don't realize. It may be your body's way of letting you know it's time to deal with it.  
The symptoms you describe are often over looked heart disease symptoms in women so don't over look that either.  Doctors often do.   Also don't jump in to any medications with out a ton of research.  And yes being told any of this will cause stress.  Good luck!!
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