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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 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 universal
I am a 57 y/o female.  I've had these symptoms on and off for about 4 years.  Sometimes several times in a week, sometimes I can go months without them.  Almost always while at rest (reading a book, watching TV, sitting at a stop light, etc.)  

I've had all the cardiology workups (echo, stress, contract MRI/Cscan, etc)  We've boiled it down to PRECORDIAL CATCH SYNDROME or VARIANT ANGINA (also known an Prinzmetals.  Neither is serious or life-threatening and there is no cure; you just have to live with it.  It is basically spasming of the arteries not caused by disease.  

I have just learned to "breathe through" them and not panic.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
I am having same issues. I also went to er and they ran extensive test on heart. It was  found to be ok. They do want me to followup with stress test. I have also had neck surgery and now believe it may be the problem. I am now starting to get headaches also during these episodes. I have a call into my nuero surgeon to see what he thinks
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Avatar universal
Wow, I didnt realize so many people have experienced the same thing I just experienced. It happened just a short time ago. I was standing at my kitchen counter and all of a sudden I got this heavines in my upper torso and extreme weakness in both arms. No tingling or numbness. It scared me. I went and sat down to calm myself then it went away as fast as the onset. After a short while, I burped up a little sour stuff and thought maybe this was related to what I had experienced. I am a 75 year old female, in pretty good health. I have been dianosed with small gall stones (which I have opted to leave alone until they give me trouble) and I also experience esophogeal spasms occasionally (I never know when they are going to hit) which my gastronologist believes is caused because of my gurd. When I first began this new experience I thought it was going to be an esophogeal spasm but it was different. During a spasm episode I experience real pain radiating in center chest, through my back and up the right side of my neck into my right ear. Very painful and scary. Feels just like what I believe a heart attack would feel like. This spasm can last anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. I've learned that if I take Rolaids or Mylanta immediately, it shortens the episode. I'm wondering if gurd has anything to do with this new problem.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
Sorry for misspelling "gerd" and for the symbols instead od a word. I don't know where those came from.
Avatar universal
I have been experiencing the same symptoms expressed by the majority of people posting here.

My research has shown a likely candidate:  T4 syndrome. As there is some disagreement in the medical community as to whether it's "real" (sort of like fibromyalgia went through), I can well imagine many doctors wouldn't consider it or test for it.

What we have is a bilateral neuropathy. T4 syndrome is a relatively uncommon condition in which spinal injury at the T4 vertebra causes a set of symptoms including diffuse arm pain and pins and needles or numbness in the upper arm. That "injury" can be inflammation/irritation from aggressive massage therapy, overuse from bad posture/sitting/keyboarding or even a sudden turn of the neck to look over the shoulder.

All these can cause a partially inflammed area to be further pinched and cause the symptoms described.

My approach for the next few months will be the following. I will see if I have symptom relief and/or decrease in occurrences (since I can't completely stop sitting/keyboarding, etc.)

- take over the counter anti inflammatory
- cut down drastically on wheat (bread, crackers, cereal, pastries) [early research shows it contributes to inflammation in the body, so why not]
- ice/heat for 5 minutes between my shoulder blades in the morning and evening
- take a break every hour from sitting (regardless if at work/dining/home)
- gentle stretching-style yoga
- no massages

I will be keeping a log to see if there are any changes in severity/frequency of my symptoms. Then I will talk to my GP, armed with specific info.

Doctors never want to suspect a cause that they can't immediately offer a cure for - the harder they have to think about what is causing the problem the less likely you will get the best approach to curing it.

Good luck and I hope this may help someone!!


Helpful - 0
18534681 tn?1465652302
I believe I found the cure.  I have had these very same symptoms.  It started at about age 51 and I am now 53.  I have episodes of chest pain sometimes radiating into my back and bilateral heaviness in the forearms radiating weakness down to  my fingertips with numbness and tingling at times. This happened every week and sometimes as much as 4 times in a day.  I had every heart test possible and everything came back fine (still paying off one of the 4-day stay hospital bills). I changed my diet, my exercise, and nothing helped. I read all of your comments and went to my OB-GYN.  I told him there are thousands of women my age describing the exact same symptoms and pleading for help.  I asked him for hormone therapy or whatever he thought may help.  He was skeptical but agreed to place me on a low dose birth control pill.  After 4 days the episodes stopped.  I have only been on this therapy for two months and have zero symptoms  I believe these episodes are menopause related and instead of a "hotflash" it manifests with the symptoms all of us are describing. I also have begun taking a Flintstones's Vitamin with Iron :-)   I wish you all the best.  Hugs to all!
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Avatar universal
Has anyone had these symptoms start after they have had a blood pressure cuff done in the hospital this is when mine started....those auto BP cuffs felt like they were cutting into my arms and now I get these same symptoms....
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Avatar universal
I found this excellent website with clear descriptions of a whole range of possible causes.    http://www.ehealthstar.com/arm-pain.php
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Avatar universal
I'm a 62 year old male; on the night of March 30, after going to bed, I started having symptoms as commonly described by others: tightness in the chest, bilateral pain in the biceps, feeling of being flushed.  The feelings came in ‘waves’, lasting around a minute.  They were coming every 15 to 20 minutes.  I right away suspected a heart attack, as the men in my family have a long history (my father at 70, his first cousin at 49, my grandfather at 58, my brother at 60).  Ambulance to the ER, lots of cardiac testing,  which were all fine.  I was still having these waves in the ambulance and in the ER.  So, like everyone else, I’m still in the dark as to answers.  I had an episode this morning, which prompted me to find this  message board.  Both times this has happened, I had been laying down, which makes me think it could be related to my reflux.  BTW, I have not had back or disc problems, I do not have a smart phone, I do not regularly sit at a computer, and I’m pretty sure I’m not menopausal!  I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year ago, but since no  one else has mentioned this, I’m sure it’s  unrelated to these episodes.  It’s a little discouraging that, in the 7 years this thread has been going,  that no one has gotten a specific answer.
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Avatar universal
Hi all, I have been having these symptoms too and it is scary to say the least. I went to my doctor who says it may be menopause (see we are all more or less the same age) he has put me on hormones , started yesterday so holding thumbs will let you know if they do the trick as my ECG also showed no heart problems
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
All - same symptoms to a tee except I have undergone full cardiac, neurology and stroke tests - all negative.  Blood work good except for a spell I was anemic and - oddly - have much too much Vit D (I don't take supplements or spend too much time in the sun so they  cannot determine why).  I have Hashimotos Hypothyroidism but it's well under control.  I am 46, very fit, and eat well with no prior spinal injuries.

Although the fact that it isn't crystal clear as to why this is happening- I have to admit I am feeling LESS stress about it knowing how many others experience this routinely like me and at least no one seems to be told that it is something life threatening. ;)

My biggest concern is that the majority of my episodes occur while I am sleeping...it literally wakes me up.  I have a temperpedic bed, special pillow and sleep on my back.  So not really in a situation that lends itself to spinal movement or pinching as cause.

Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Yes same symptoms for me too only I got to eating too much pushy and got bad posture from it and also a huge herniated dig. Now I got clamchowda coming out intead of urine. Whaddayagonna do, ya know?
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Avatar universal
Hi Everyone,  I have had very similar symptoms.  I am a 58 year old male, 6 feet tall and 150 lbs.  I am very fit and exercise daily.  My symptoms start in my upper back and then I get this pressure around my entire chest and then both arms just get crazy weak.  The whole thing lasts only 1-3 minutes and this happened twice last week within 24 hours and it happened again today.  I have well controlled hypertension.  I have had two fusions in my lower back and a previous MRI has shown some bulging cervical discs.  I do not have any significant neck pain and my low back feels great since my last surgery 2+ years ago.  I'm a little worried that this is CAD so I'm gonna contact my PCP tomorrow.  Will post again if I learn anything.  Thanks to all for sharing.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I am a 51 yr old female and I too have been having heaviness bilaterally in my arms then to my chest and down my legs.  I am a firefighter/paramedic and have put off getting it checked.  They started about a yr ago but the episodes come and go.  I could go months without any episodes.  Over the past 6 wks the episodes have increased in frequency and intensity which I actually went out for about 15 to 20 seconds.  I was at work watching tv when I went out with one of the episodes so I had to be transported to the hospital.  I had all the tests done, EKG, EEG, echo cardiogram, MRI, CT scan and all tests were neg. Tomorrow I am having a tilt test done and an angiogram.  As I have been looking for answers the only thing I have found is called variant angina ( spasm of the coronary artery)  I don't have the chest pain which is normally a symptom but as I have looked into it not all patients have that.  Hopefully I can find an answer because this is putting my career in jeopardy.  I have never had an episode while excersizing every episodes has been either sitting, driving or laying down a couple while just standing.  Hopefully we'll find an answer soon!    
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Hello, everyone, I'll try to help.

I'm not saying everyone here has the same thing, but a few things to consider:

- arm heaviness, numbness, tingliness, etc. is associated with muscular tension and nerve impingement. Nerve impigement does not cause pain, it causes numbness, tingling and heaviness, while tension does causes pain and heaviness.

- chest pain might come from both tigh muscles from the chest and/or tigh muscles from the dorsum of the scapula (rotator cuff group), that makes pressure under the armpit, which might feel that comes from the chest.

- so, just because the pain is happening somewhere, doesn't mean that is the place to look (or at leat, not the only place)

- it is not necessary to have a pinched nerve or a herniated disc to present the symptoms people are complaining about here. Muscle imbalance (some muscles are really tight, others are really weak) might cause some muscles to over-work to compensate this imbalance.

You end up with heavy arms, for instance, because your rhomboids and mid and lower traps are weak, so the rotator cuff over compensates for them, getting really tigh, making your triceps work harder with every movement, giving you heavy arms. And it scalates. You start to breath more and more with your chest, because of the consequential bad posture, and this puts pressure on the scalenes (neck), which have a direct effect on the medial, ulnar and radial nerves that goes through your arms, intensifying the feeling.

This is just an example. There are a lot of scenarios - bad posture makes some muscles work harder to compensate other weak ones. Thoracic outlet syndrome is also common.

My point is: with all those people going to the doctor and getting clear from heart problems and other physiological maladies, and also getting misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel and other orthopedic conditions, perhaps the problem is not one that will appear on a blood or imaging test.

That's the bad news. The good news is that muscle, fascial, postural, nerve problems are treatable.

I'd reccomend you to make an appointment to a chiropractor to treat fascia and bones. He/she will be able to determine which muscles need working, and which ones need releasing - and give you the right exercises and stretches. And if you can, a yoga class to help with posture, anxiety and flexibility. Pilates is also great. Meditation is a good thing to help with muscle relaxation; massage as well. And after the chiropractor says you're good to go, exercise and stretching.

One thing is certain: this will not worsten your condition, no matter what this might be, and it might just cure it.
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Avatar universal
I am  52 yr. old female. Menopause symptoms also.I have had 2 episodes in the last 2 weeks, both at work( desk job). Heavy arms, heavy chest ,sweaty palms,shaky feeling & weak, tired feeling afterwards. I went to ER after 2nd time.EKG,XRAY/LABWORK all good.The only concern was my Pulse was 48-50 .
The following week  had only heavy chest , weak and unable to breath properly. I was already scheduled for Cardiologist the next morning. He did a Ultrasound of my heart, EKG,Stress test , all were normal. I did wear a Holter Monitor overnight, still waiting for results.
Now i am waiting for CT scan of chest & MRI of neck.

I will come back and share results. Scary feeling, good to know my heart is okay.
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Avatar universal
I'm a 39 year old male. I just left the emergency room after experiencing all the issues described by you all. According to the doc I'm very healthy. Did anyone ever get a real diagnosis
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Avatar universal
I am a 57 year old woman with all the same symptoms. I have been having them now and again for about 5 years. It seems to me to be related to computer use, though it can happen to me at any time. I can recognize that it's coming on now. Today was a little weirder in that I had a tingle on the top of my head along with the bilateral heaiviness in my arms and then the weakness in my hands. I have never spoken to my doctor about it because it is so on and off with years in between. I do have some feeling of being less mentally sharp after it.
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Avatar universal
Has anyone here had these symptoms and do not own a smart phone?  Just trying to eliminate that has a potential cause as I know I started getting these symptoms around the time I got my first smart phone...  

I am a 57 year old male, excellent health, low thyroids, have had L1 - L6 and T1 fused back in 1987 and two back operations with the second one 1990.   Walk at least a mile a day, exercise daily (back exercises and other routines including some yoga and breathing).   These have been very sporadic as for their occurrence, sometimes a few times in one day and other times months before I have one and they started occurring in 2011/2012 and have had a couple of EKG's that have come back normal and rarely does it happen after exercising or exerting myself!

I know it seems a little weird that this could be a cause, but I did want rule it out as a potential cause.  Specifically since my intuition has placed mistrust in some of our new technology as if it is causing my spiritual and physical persona to become unstable or out of balance at times....  The funny part is I am a computer geek and work with new technologies....  go figure!
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Avatar universal
I am just reading this now but please don't feel this is limited to only women.  I am a pretty healthy male age 55 and I am getting the same symptoms. Random episodes of tightness in chest, bilateral arm heaviness, hands useless, goes away in a few minutes or earlier if I happen to burp.  It comes on when sitting down or after a shower or while brushing teeth or shaving.  Leads me to believe it is GERD, as another woman posted.  Causes of the GERD include fatty/fried food, coffee and chocolate and eating late at night.  
I had a stress test at the ER last year and it was perfectly normal.  Physical this year was done and that too was fine.
good luck to you all!
    
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Avatar universal
HI
I'm a 59 year old male. Active, I do work out. Try and watch what I eat. More so now. But notice more so when I'm in the heaver part of my work out,that my chest fell like presser is on it, and my lower arms feel very heavy. This has happen any where from 1 to 2 times a day for the last two weeks.
I have instantly taken my blood presser. Its fine  around 125/85---heart rate 92.    
I do watch what I eat. I try not to eat any process foods.

Thank-You for all the post here. I see I'm not the only one!!
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Avatar universal
Hi, have you had any more episodes and if so, have you had any diagnosis?
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Avatar universal
So glad I'm not alone.  Today I was finishing washing dishes and a pressure welled up in my body like a tightness, then shortly afterward moved to both arms and felt like someone had my elbows in a vice.  It lasted about 15-20 seconds with no lasting weakness that I can see, but of course now I'm worried about heart attacks.  Seems like everyone has experienced something similar, so I feel a bit better.  Thanks for letting me share, Dawn
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thoracic outlet syndrome sounds like an interesting possibility.  I had these episodes a few years ago and had cardiac investigation which of course was normal. A neurologist thought that I was possibly having silent migraines. I was supposed to have an MRI but the episodes disappeared so I cancelled it. They have come back recently and follow the same pattern. I get this "feeling" or an aura that something is going to happen, then I get the chest tightness and my arms go numb. It never lasts more than a minute. I am a 52 year old female.
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Avatar universal
Everyone in this thread please find out if you have thoracic outlet syndrome, it may be the answer to all of your problems.I do not have the chest heaviness but definitely a spasm happens in the neck area and extends down through both arms into the hands, The spasms week in my arms for a couple minutes at a time. I was diagnosed a year ago with the Thoracic outlet syndrome. It is sinister and does affect blood flow. The cramping and spasms are real and the muscle tightness causes all sorts of weird sensations. My chiropractor thinks people who experience the cramping and spasms might also panic, maybe causing a slight drop in blood pressure that affects us all. I highly encourage you to get a referral to a physical therapist, they can diagnose this quickly and give you exercises to help loosen the muscles. The muscles can wreak havoc on your body giving us the sensations that everyone in this thread has described.
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