I am a 43 year old woman. I don't drink or smoke. Do have a family history of heart disease and diabetes, but I am generally healthy. I have had chronic neck, chest, arm and shoulder pain for a number of years, but it has gotten worse over the past year. The chest pain has been scary, since it accompanies jaw and arm pain which is worse during exercise. Last year I had a stress echo and stress test, both negative. I just had a CT coronary angiogram which came back totally normal. Cardiologist said there was no plaque and no calcification - excellent heart health.
I still have the jaw/arm and sometimes chest pain upon exercise, though it is there during other times too. I am more relaxed about it being cardio, but I cannot help still being a bit anxious - especially with no confirmed reason for this pain.
Back in Nov. I had a cervical spine MRI which showed mild herniation at c4-5 and more severe herniation at 5-6, with spinal impingement.
I went to physical therapy and after 8 sessions we stopped because it was aggravating the neck, shoulder, chest, upper back area and was causing me more soreness and pain. Referred to Orthopedic specialist who tells me that my pain is really not coming from the disc problems, but it more myofascial. I know there is soft tissue and muscle pain (duh!) but it still doesn't explain what is really going on. She said the nerves are probably irritated but not due to the spinal impingement. Huh?
I have been given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia before, but some Drs don't even think that is a valid diagnosis.
At this point, I don't know where to turn. THe pain does significantly affect my life. Any advice would be very appreciated.
I hate to admit put all of my own problems out here, but I have had identical symptoms as what you describe; I am almost 50, and I drink many mochas so I was concerned. True story... I started a solo practice in psychiatry, and was working late with one of my first therapy patients and the pain came on. I had nitro, but that didn't relieve the pain... so the patient had to call 911, and watch as I was taken from the office on a stretcher and then raced away in an ambulance. I can't believe she still sees me!!
I have written the pain off to one of two things. I do not think that disc problems would cause the pain, and I am glad your surgeon didn't operate on you... some would. I have decided that the pain, which in my case comes on slowly at first but then grows to an unbearable level, is related to stress; I can see that I had it more during times of my life when I was stressed, and I haven't had it much since leaving my job as a psychiatrist at a maximum security womens prison.
So the cure is to relieve stress... but what is the etiology of the pain? I think it is either vasospasm, known as prinzmetal's angina... in which case I am going to drop dead some day from 'the big one'. This cannot be diagnosed unless you just happen to have the pain while undergoing catheterization, as the arteries look fine in between episodes. Treatment is nifedipine.
But there was an 'either'... and as an optimist I don't think I have the first condition. I think I either have some manifestation of anxiety that causes me such pain, or that I have 'esophageal spasm', which is a diagnosis used whenever a person has cardiac-like pain without cardiac-like findings. Along this line, when I get the pain, as early in the course of the pain as possible I will drink a large amount of cold water-- ice water if I have it. In my case that seems to break whatever is going on, and I hope it helps for you as well. In fact, please let me know at the contact e-mail on the web sites listed in my profile, if you have the time.
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