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Avatar universal

Anxiety and constant chest/arm pain

I'm 34 yr old male and have been experiencing various chest and left arm pains for about three months.  I've seen a plethora of doctors from cardiologist to internist to GI doc to psychologist.  Heart problems have been ruled out by numerous EKG's and stress echo test.  GI doc found I have a hiatal hernia/GERD from upper GI and is currently being treated with Nexium.  Have also had ultrasound of liver/gall bladder and MRI of abdomen - all normal.  Feel like a pin cushion from all the blood work - again all within normal ranges.

My psychologist insists anxiety is the culprit.  Though I have been under a fair amount of stress with work and family, can these pains linger around for this long just from anxiety?  They come and go throughout the day and are very disruptive to my thinking of 'what's going on with me? - which I'm guessing only breeds more anxiety.

The only other med I'm on is Lipitor for cholestorol.

I'm reluctant to try any anti-anxiety meds since I had a bad bout with cymbalta a few months back and I really don't feel as though I need it.  I just want the pain to stop.  I've tried numerous relaxation and meditation methods which are very calming and helpful, but still the pain comes.  The only time I don't notice it is when I'm exercising (usually run 3-6 miles/day).

Any thoughts of what's going on?  Anxiety, current med side effects or something else?
151 Responses
165308 tn?1323190145
I definitely believe it can be from anxiety.  This past summer, my right arm always felt extremely heavy.  It seemed even hard to lift!  It was anxiety related.  Our bodies can do so much to us!  Aside from a pinched nerve or syatica (spelling?) and your heart is fine (thank goodness!) that is what it is!

Notice how it goes away when you are exercising...you are releasing anxiety and stress when you do that and it isn't building up inside.  

You do not need to be overstressed or over anxious to have anxiety symptoms...as a matter of fact, I get more symptoms when my life seems the calmest!  The more you dwell on it...the more it will be that....and I can attest to that!!

Avatar universal
Thanks for your input suzi-q.  It's just something I never had experienced until a few months ago - it's debilitating.  But as all my docs eliminate the nasty things, I'm becoming more and more a believer of anxiety (which is initially what my psychologist has said all along).

Do you have any helpful books, websites or tips related to this ailment?

God Bless all of us,
nm
1 Comments
I feel ur pain! I've had chest pain in some form daily for 3+ yrs now. Along with some trouble breathing or so it seems, feeling like I could pass out or die at any time. I wake up to stabbing chest pains & am jolted awake feeling very off along with my tongue tingling & the feeling of ice water injected into my veins, & in the past few months a lot of left jaw pain, both arms burning or aching at rest or non stress times as it never happens when I'm stressed. Unfortunately my dr's refuse to send me to a cardiologist since ekgs have been fine & a nuclear heart & stress test was fine when this all started 3+ yrs ago. But my psychologists tell me they think something is wrong with me & anxiety has made it worse. It's so hard as U can't live life like this! I only think about it when the pain starts, so how can U ignore what ur not thinking?  Psychologists say my subconscious mind took over my conscious mind & it can only be fixed over time but no guarantees. Most likely correct as it all started a few months after my dad passed away. I pray a lot & will do so for all of us ego experience this temporary hell on earth. But I have faith we will be healed in this life or in heaven! God bless U all & don't lose ur faith due to the devil working his evil magic on us.
Avatar universal
i recommend the anxiety and phobia workbook. it should be available through any town bookstore. it has good distraction methods which seems to me would help you. if you distract your mind from the pain, it goes away. eventually it will just stop coming back. every time you feel anxious use one of the distraction methods, such as saying the alphabet backwords in your head.
hope it all works out.
Avatar universal
Try a heating pad at night it might ease some of the pain... Get a handle on your stress and Try some new posture and breathing techniques it can help tremendously! I have been through what you describe and have seen cardiologists.. ER's ETC.
I found that eating right and improving your posture in your daily activities can help you to recover quicker!
165308 tn?1323190145
go to anxietycentre.com  lots of info there on anxiety.  Best to you....best to all of us!!!
Avatar universal
I am relatively new to this anxiety thing too.  The one thing that casts deep shadows of doubt into that diagnosis is the chest pain.  Strictly left side.  I have been checked out by three cardios (2 thoroughly) and I SHOULD be able to find some relief in that....but I don't.  

When I feel the craziness of the anxiety, I truly believe I "JUST" have an anxiety issue.  But when the weirdness of the chest pains and those symptoms come, I'm a wreck.  They seem to be two different things.  I know rationally that a serious heart problem wouldn't be knocking at my door for a good part of a year and not come in.  But, unfortunately, I am not always rational when the weirdness starts.

I am getting worse I think and I fear I WILL make myself have some kind of heart issue.  I even was at Disneyworld last weekend and wouldn't go on the Space Mountain rollercoaster because of the warnings about heart conditions.   That's pretty stupid, I know.  I don't HAVE a heart condition.

I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone and if you've been checked out--you are okay.  (Now if I could only listen to that!!!)  I'm not sure where I am going but this forum has been great for peace of mind, the people who answer have been most helpful--I don't feel like such a wreck after the support.

Good luck to you.  

Avatar universal
I to have been getting chest and left arm pain for a few months and same thing went to doctor then hosp only to be told that it is either anxioty or muscle pain very very destressing for me so i know how you feel.
Avatar universal
i am new to panic disorder and I have had almost constant chest pains for 4 months.  I have been through the ringer with doctors and nothing is wrong with me.  But there is major pain and i still feel like something is the culprit.  My pain happens most at night when I am trying to relax.  When I am exercising and am active, I don't feel it.  I am a wreck and am having a hard time dealing with it.  Reading forums like this really helps.  I see people in the same boat and I don't feel so helpless anymore.  
Avatar universal
Hi all, glad to hear that there are so many of you suffering from the same symptoms that I have. I often get these feelings, sometimes two or three times in a day, although the pains in the arm and chest aren't always there, I always feel as though I am on edge and that something bad is going to happen to me. I have been suffering from these symptoms for close on 4 years and nothing has changed, they haven't got better and thet haven't got worse. Been to the hospital on several occasions for ECG's etc and everyone comes back fine, eventually went to the doctor the other day and explained howmuch of an effect my condition was having on my day to day life. He prescribed me some Beta Blockers, Propranolol 40 mg tablets, have only been taking these for 2 days so am unsure if they are going to work!! Often wake up in the middle of the night feeling tightness across the chest and sometimes I feel like I have an armband around the biceps of both arms, like I said very frightening. Think that we are just some of the unlucky ones in life, although would love to be able to go through a day without havinf to worry about every little ache and pain being "the big one".....
Avatar universal
I have been experiencing left arm and chest pain. Mainly in my left arm though. I have been tothe doctor and had examinations for lumps etc but he is happy there is nothing wrong! I have lost my appetite and feel sick alot, I am short of breath at times and my chest feels tight, I also keep crying! I know this is anxiety and I believe that I am feelinglike this because of my arm pain. About 5 weeks ago I found a lump in my left armpit and since the second I found it I was convinced that I was going to die, Thankfully it went away ina few weeks after a course of antibiotics but I worked myself up that much over it I think this is where the pain in my arm has come from... I am constantly thinking about it! I need to snap out of it, my doctor has given me anti-depressants but I want to try and sort myself out on my own! Any suggestions?
447939 tn?1235065543
i too have suffered with chest pains, tightness, breathless etc i have had it on and off for 14 yrs but its been pretty bad since my grandad passed away nearly 2 yrs ago. i have had tests which were all normal, so jus have to accept its anxiety. as soon as you get it in your head that it is a heart problem you will have the symptoms anyway cause its your brain that is causing these symptoms. im having therapy which helps re-train my brain and thoughts its hard but we have to think if it was really our heart that was the problem surely it would get WORSE by excercise, surely we would have major symptoms by now ie fainting, see my chest gets tight with exercise but thats cause its in my head that exercise will strain my heart too much lol or something will happen when i exercise.
the key is to trust the tests and start living again
Avatar universal
I do the same thing.  Everyone tells me to exercise but i get anxiety thinking about exercising because I am afraid I will have trouble breathing if I exercise!  It is a cycle I would like to break!
447939 tn?1235065543
have you tries CBT? look into it they help you break this stupid cycle there were times when i was even afraid to go upstairs incase i collapsed, i was to scared to go the toilet!!! i still get nervous if im alone, and still have bad days but im better than i was, its a slow process but gotta be worth it. my next goal is to walk my dog alone its horrible cause i love my dog lol and my hubby has to do it after a long days work
Avatar universal
I been having a constant chest pain (I mean all day long) for almost six years now. I did the whole blood work, chest x-ray, and of course an EKG.

My pulse hits 115 sometimes, the docotor says it's because I get stressed when I'm about to take it. Because in the last year he caught me at rate of 60 and 70.

My head was foggy in the fourth year, I did hit it  but at least xanex helped.

I'm finding after years of Xanex it really has no effect on me beyong going into a freak out.

I only get freaked out because I worry about my heart but I have been checked out and I'm told if there was a problem they some how missed I would be dead after 5-6 years.

Anyone has two cents on the subject.
447939 tn?1235065543
as you have probably read i have exactly exactly the same symptoms i hate it i had it on and off for 14yrs and same as you i dont believe the doctors or the tests,you would have been dead before 5/6 yrs and you would have had miles more symptoms ie fainting if there was anything really wrong. just try and trust the tests and get some therapy
Avatar universal
These posts are the only thing that keep me from running to the doctor every time I have a chest/arm pain.  For the last 7 years I have had on and off episodes of chest pain, arm pain, shortness of breath, racing heart, fatigue, etc.  After several EKG's over the years, my symptoms too have been diagnosed as anxiety related.  I took Lexapro for 9 months which seemed to help tremendously.  I went off it in May and now the physical symptoms are creaping up on me again.... each day I have some symptom I fear is life threatening.  It's really controlling my life and mood.I hate to go back on Lexapro... I am a 27 yr old female who would like to have children someday and don't want to be dependent on Lexapro during pregnancy.  Hopefully I'll get over this without drugs!
447939 tn?1235065543
as you have prob read im the same we have to trust the tests and the doctors. although its horrible anxiety wont kill us and trust me i know when the symptoms happen thats hard to believe, i dont take meds only beta-blockers but im thinkin only meds are gonna help me. although therapy is great i still have bad days and im greedy and want them all to be good
Avatar universal
Gosh, I seriously thought I was the only one having this constantly...going on 2 years here of pretty much daily chest, left arm, shoulder pain. It goes into my jaw, yup pretty easy to convice myself I am having heart problems.  I have had multiple EKG's and a full work-up by Cardiology, so I should know better by now.
I swear I have this even when I am feeling calm and relaxed.  Get the shortness of breath and can't swallow symptoms, which really drives me nuts.
Is anyone on medications for these issues? I just started Amitriptyline a couple weeks ago, so it is not kicked in yet...just wondering if anyone has had relief from this by taking anti-anxiety meds?
Avatar universal
Thanks for the advice. Has therapy worked for you?  I guess that's my next option if I don't want to take the medicine.  I'd like to have my life back.... the days are long when I'm constantly worrying about my health.  It's really wearing on me as I see it does others also.
Avatar universal
I have chest pain from anxiety. It is more of an uncomfortable feeling that comes in waves. Sorry to hear you are going through the same thing.
447939 tn?1235065543
im still in therapy i started weekly session in feb and now dropped down to monthly, it hasnt cured me but deffo helped loads. like before when i had symptoms i would get in a state and get really upset i would wanna go hospital and be convinced i was dying were as now im calmer and can ignore things more, the symptoms dont feel as bad even though i still get them, dont get me wrong i still have bad days but i deal with them differently. i just wish there was a miracle cure but unfortunatly there aint so we just gotta work hard at it x
Avatar universal
I started taking a b complex vitamin last week which is supposed to help with anxiety.  Just wanted to report it has helped some.  It's no cure all but it has kept me from running to the doctor to get some meds.  Has calmed my anxiety a bit which in turn has relieved some of the scary physical symptoms.  Hope it keeps up the good work and I'm not jinxing myself by posting this........just wanted to share in case it may help someone else.
447939 tn?1235065543
i know a few people that have taken vitamin b and said it works so you know what im gonna ring my chemist see if i can mix it with beta-blockers and if i can im off to the health shop, cheers for the advice
p.s dont worry if your wee goes bright yellow its the only side effect!!!!!!!!! haha
Avatar universal
Wow , I feel better too after hearing all of your stories. I have had anxiety since July 08 after a alergic reaction. Since then i have been tested for every desase known to man. Also im a us soldier that was supposed to be deployed for the 3rd time which gave me ample amounts of stress. But now im not getting deployed due to that and A-fib . I had 2 bouts of A-fib due to stress . Let me tell you , wow you can really feel like something is gonna happen or that i have a unknown diesase. I have had burning skin sensations , Sharp arm pain , chest pain , shoulder pain , back pain and my burning sensations were all over even tongue and throat . I also had a fear of having clots? for some reason lol .. i mean how could i get them in the first place. I get burning sensations from my chest to my finger tips up my neck like a sharp and cold stinging sensation it comes and goes . Well after all of this i was checked out by the best docters (military docters/Vetern) And im completely normal .. it has to do with the nervious system. And im on metropolol but by choice. besides that im on stoamach pills (nexium).
BUT!! All of this is UNNESSARY. Everyone one of us have the same or almost same symptoms. Now think ppl we r all healthy (told by drs.) and we all have same problems. I finally got over anxiety attacks 2 weeks ago. If i can do this we all can . I have had support and no drugs so far and well Its very hard but like quiting smoking you can do it if you want. After you try very hard and cant try anymore you Still have to try alil harder. It will work ppl. You can do it. Like nike says .. Just do it ! So !! -- With all my symptoms and feelings and er visits , I learned that anxiety is a pain in the behind but you can over come it and live witht out it . Even in less then 30 min you can tell your self no more im done with this. and totally ignore it. it worked for me so far. and eventully (depends on how bad you have it ) it will go away and you will be happy agin . lol i remember 1 time i couldnt even sleep laying down i set up all night next to my wife for the fear of a heart attack ,i look back and laugh at my self for being like that lol at the time it wasnt funny though lol im a infantry soldier and i was still scarded to death. You guys will be alright lets all start living .. only one life lets have fun :) and make the best of it. WE ARE NOT SICK!!  Its in our heads we just have to get it out.



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