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Avatar universal

charlie horse in chest?

I am a 28 yr. old female. I have always had small episodes af chest pain. The older I get the more symptoms I have . My arms have always ached, and I have worried about it being my heart since I can remember.Now I have times where I feel like I get a cramp right under my sternum where my heart is. It lasts a few second then its gone and it will do this off and on for a few days and then it won't come back for a long time. I get pain in my neck and in my jaw.Sometimes the pain in my neck and my arm feels kind of like a gassy type pain. Other times it feels like somthing is pushing way up inside my armpit and it hurts all the way down my arm. Now I am also starting to gt episodes where I wake up in the middle of the night and my heart is racing. I have had numerous ekg's and an ultrasound of my heart. I have also had a stress test on a bike and I have worn a holter moniter twice.I know my dr. thinks I just have anxiety, and I do when I start getting the pains because I am scared they have missed somthing and that I am going to have a heart attck or somthing. Someone please tell me if you have any idea what is going on. I have worried about this for 15 years and I am sick of worrying. I would stop worrying if I had an answer, or if it would stop getting worse. My bp is is usually 125/73 and hr is around 72-80. My chol. is 167. I am a little overweight and i do need to excersise more but I am kind of scared to excert myself. Sorry for so much info I just didn't want to miss nothing. Thanks- Dawn
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Dawn,
There are many causes of chest pain.  The one that doctors worry about the most is cardiac because it has the potential to be life-threatening.  Once this is ruled out the work-up can proceed at a more leisurely pace.

Amongst the cardiac causes of chest pain are: ischemia (due to blockages - including both stable and unstable angina and acute heart attack and coronary artery spasm), pericarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), cardiomyopathy (heart failure) and rarer causes such as coronary artery dissection, acute rupture of the heart and valves and infections of the pericardium.

Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain include reflux (acid from the stomach washing back into the esophagus), gallstones, esophageal spasm, esophageal rupture, varicose veins of the esophagus, strictures of the esophagus, tumors of the esophagus and other less common GI problems.

Pulmonary (lung) causes include pneumonia, pulmonary embolus, pneumothorax, pleuritis and bleb rupture.

Other potential causes are aortic dissection, back and spine problems and musculoskeletal (muscle strain, rib fracture, etc.).

Psychological causes of chest pain are common and include panic attacks, anxiety, stress and mental duress.

As you can see the list of potential causes in long and may take a little bit of time to determine the precise cause.  A good Internal Medicine doctor should be able to work through the potential causes of your symptoms.

Avatar universal
I could have written that post for the most part..I do not get alot of jaw pain..but I have arm pain..and what I call muscle spasms on my left side only..in the breast area...
it drives me mad..I have all the tests..I also have panic disorder...I have resorted to studiying the anatomy and there are so many things that make up that area...I have them frequently....
if you ever want to chat or need an e-mail friend..just let me know...
maybe we can help each other...
Avatar universal
Dawn, have you had an EKG during symptoms? That could help ease your fears if it turns out normal. Some other tests that could help put your mind at ease is an echocardiogram where they can see the heart chambers and valves, and a catheterization where they see the arteries. I doubt you'd need a catheterization unless your EKG or echo turned up abnormal. Your blood pressure and pulse look normal. Also it's reassuring that a female of your age is protected by estrogen as long as you're still getting a period. The estrogen protects the arteries from plaque build up. The way I know this is I just went through the whole work up with all those tests I mentioned, mine were abnormal though and I do get angina with tachycardia now treated with cardizem. I'm 37, female. Something interesting, my angina besides my chest, left arm/hand, and upper back, can go up the left side of my neck, jaw, and even my left ear. So when you said about your neck and jaw, I thought you possibly could have angina. Also remember that women present differently than men with angina, mine is described as atypical. I also get nausea, sweaty, breathless and lightheaded. My husband and other people could tell when I was not feeling well, they'd comment on how white I was. Mostly I would just lay on the couch and hold a pillow tight against my chest. I was given nitrostat and it helped most of the time. I'm just grateful I had the catheterization because they prescribed the cardizem afterwards to prevent the angina and bring down the heart rate that was running 120-140 at rest. I just tested it at the grocery store the other day and it was 91! I couldn't believe it. It hasn't been that low in a couple of years. One more thing before I quit rambling, exercize is GOOD for you and will strenghten your heart. Get your doctors ok and then start a program of walking or similar activity. I walk 30 minutes 3 times a week plus do some yoga every day. If your tests come back normal and your doctor says you're ok, try not to dwell on your symptoms or worry about your heart. Life is too short to waste any time worrying. Worrying doesn't change or help anything, and in your case it's actually crippling you.
Avatar universal
Amongst the cardiac causes of chest pain are: ischemia (due to blockages - including both stable and unstable angina and acute heart attack and coronary artery spasm),

I have coronary artery spasms, this is only found with a heart cath. test called ergotivine challenge test.  My heart dr. did this test on me in the heart lab three times and all three times my heart went into spasms.  now i take nitrates, carry nitro and take channel blockers.  However, it is rare but i sure was surprised when i found out i had it. iam 42 i have had these symptoms for couple years the angina symptoms..this was jan when i was diagnoised and its now march, and it took that long to get the meds correct.  But i was in the er couple times before with same symptoms and had normal ekg's, until the last eposide where i had a real bad spasm, ended up in hospital 4 days.  So keep after your dr.s until you find the answer to your problems, ps my primary dr. told me it was anxiety!
Best of luck to you
Avatar universal
I don't believe i was tested for coranary artery spasm when i had my catheter in February.  I was wondering ig you could tell me if coranary artery spasm is due to blockages or if it happens in clear arteries.  Is it dangerous or more a benign (by that I mean not life threatening) pain and spasm that needs treatment to ease symptoms.  I hope you don't mind me asking.  I thought maybe my Dr. didn't test me for this because my arteries were clear.  Thanks so much.  Briane
Avatar universal
Briane, I like Lynn get coronary artery spasm as the cause of my angina.This is NOT a benign condition and can cause a heart attack as surely as a blocked artery. What happens is the spasm blocks the blood flow through the artery. It happens in clear or partially blocked arteries, mine are clear. It would show up on EKG the same as blocked arteries, my EKG's show ST segment depression and lack of oxygen to the heart.
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