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my chest
13 Replies
weemama - July 2

Hi everyone: Here I am again....I have been so uncomfortable for about a month now. I have had a constant ache in my sternum, and every now and then a sharp pain that shoots up across my chest and down both my arms....lasts for a split second. Has anyone ever gone through this? I have been under immense stress at work and my new manager is a real prize to work for. I don't think she knows how to say a nice word. Very pushy...and angry, which makes me angry and well you know the ending. I start to cry....usually. I just finished a cpr course which was two full days of hands on training...I was exhausted. It did scare me though with the chest thing going on and all. I have been to the doc so many times before and they have tested my heart and tell me that I have to learn how to handle stress better...anyone out there that can help?


Fantod - July 2

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone or sternum. The condition causes localized chest pain that you can reproduce by pushing on the cartilage in the front of your ribcage. Costochondritis is a relatively harmless condition and usually goes away without treatment. The cause is usually unknown.

Costochondritis (with unknown cause) is a common cause of chest pain in children and adolescents. It accounts for 10-30% of all chest pain in children. Annually, doctors evaluate about 650,000 cases of chest pain in young people 10-21 years of age. The peak age for the condition is 12-14 years.

Costochondritis is also considered as a possible diagnosis for adults who have chest pain. Chest pain in adults is considered a potentially serious sign of a heart problem by most doctors until proven otherwise. Chest pain in adults usually leads to a battery of tests to rule out heart disease. If those tests are normal and your physical exam is consistent with costochondritis, your doctor will diagnose costochondritis as the cause of your chest pain. It is important, however, for adults with chest pain to be examined and tested for heart disease before being diagnosed with costochondritis. Often it is difficult to distinguish between the two without further testing. The condition affects females more than males (70% versus 30%). Costochondritis may also occur as the result of an infection or as a complication of surgery on your sternum.

Tietze syndrome is often referred to as costochondritis, but the two are distinct conditions. You can tell the difference by noting the following:

Tietze syndrome usually comes on abruptly, with chest pain radiating to your arms or shoulder and lasting several weeks. Tietze syndrome is accompanied by a localized swelling at the painful area (the junction of the ribs and breastbone).
Costochondritis Causes
Costochondritis is an inflammatory process but usually has no definite cause. Repeated minor trauma to the chest wall or viral respiratory infections can commonly cause chest pain due to costochondritis. Occasionally, costochondritis as a result of bacterial infections can occur in people who use IV drugs or who have had surgery to their upper chest. After surgery, the cartilage can become more prone to infection, because of reduced blood flow in the region that has been operated on.


January - July 2

Hi weemama -

I'm glad to hear you have been to the dr. to be evaluated for heart problems, so you are probably OK in that department. But you don't say if you have been recently, and it might be worth another visit just to double check - especially if the pain is worrisome to you. Maybe a second opinion from a different doctor would ease your mind.

This is just a reminder that symptoms of heart disease in women can be different from those in men - and not all doctors are aware of these differences. I recently read that in women symptoms like weakness, sweating and nausea can be prominent, rather than the classic pain symptoms men get. My grandmother died of a "sudden" heart attack, but for several days before that happened, she was complaining that both her arms were aching. An unusual symptom - but one to be aware of.

If you are in a stressful work environment, try to go elsewhere - if you can't leave, please find some classes or read some books on dealing with difficult people (and avoid your angry manager as much as you can). Learn techniques to help yourself distance from the situation, like deep breathing and changing your thoughts. You don't have to take on her angry moods. There is a technique for dealing with anxiety that involves clenching the pelvic floor muscles (like a Kegel exercise) - clench very hard for about 20 seconds. This affects the parasympathetic nervous system and helps you relax.

I feel for you. I've been in horrible work environments too. I finally decided I would take any kind of work rather than put up with a crazy abusive boss. (I made good use of temp agencies!) But this is a difficult economy, and you must have something solid lined up before you leave. Unless the benefits are amazing, I'd be looking for something else. Wishing you the best with this - try to keep it in perspective. It's just a job for a paycheck, try not to let her upset you. Not worth it!!


snapdragon79 - July 3

Hi weemama, i'm new to this, so here goes, I have had fyrbro for more then 10 years, I nearly fell out of chair when I read what you described as you are not alone!!! I had the same pain in my chest 3 months ago, thought I was having a heart attack as I had stabbing pains down my arms that were like lightning has hit me when I moved, it was very scary as had all the tests and they said inflamation markers were though the roof and that the fybro was playing up a treat. I had refused to get on heavy pain meds before this, but had to finally get onto panidene forte 6 a day to be able to breath without pain. they did help but do make one sleepy. The pain has now moved into my back, still taking panidene forte but bearable for now. I found sleeping on electric blanket with constant heat helps, along with really hot showers. Stress does indeed play a big part with fybro, if your boss is being a jerk, why not seriously think of starting your own biz and work from home, thats what I had to do, and its working for me, try not to stress and try electric blanket it works, hope this helps in some way, even if its just to think your not alone...


January - July 3

Hi snapdragon - if you're new, welcome. Heat really helps with my aches too!

When you said your inflammation markers were thru the roof, it just made me think - I had the same experience. High CRP, etc. My dr. wanted to put me on Lipitor and I said no. Around that time, I was reading Dangerous Grains - and had read an article about celiac causing chronic pain. Won't ramble on about details, I've put up many posts about it, and information is more widely available now than it was a few years ago.

Just for fun, you might ask for a celiac antibody blood test. This is not always accurate, but it's a start. Some say the stool test is more accurate. While you are eating wheat and cereal products is the time to get tested. For me, I went gluten free, and it relieved a lot of my fibro pain and a number of other health issues. When I went back to get my blood tested a year or two later - ALL my inflammation markers were normal, and my blood sugar was perfect (in the 80s) after being elevated for years. It cured my lifelong depression too. Celiac is a serious disease and if left untreated will make you very sick when you get older. The think about 1 in 133 people has celiac (the severe form of gluten intolerance) but up to 1 in 7 has some kind of gluten intolerance. If this is what your problem is, you can go a long way towards during the cause of your pain if you just quit eating gluten - it's poison. There's a lot of info on the web.

If you're interested google Dangerous Grains - it's a great book, and there is now a free download on the internet. Haven't tried the download, so don't know if it works.. but it's there and this book is excellent!

Regards. Enjoy the holiday weekend!


January - July 3

Should have proofread the above! My bad. I meant "a long way towards CURING," not during… etc. I made some minor typos, sorry.


snapdragon79 - July 4

Hi January, thankyou for your reply, I was tested for celiac disease about 5 years ago and it came up negative.I saw a nathropath after this test and went on a wheat free diet anyway for about a year and felt alot better, I dont eat much wheat at all just to be on the safe side. I just don't get why my feratin levels are so high all the time, I think I've seen every top doctor in Australia and most seem to dismiss me until my blood work comes back! as one said "no one can be in that much pain" but the blood tests dont lie which I had to repeat to make sure it wasn't a stuff up. I now have 3 doctors that take me seriously and even they ask me have I found anything that works! I don't understand why we are such a mystery to the medical profession and why they won't even take the time to do more testing or something else, after all aren't they suppose to know everything???? Thank god I found this site, I know I'm not crazy and the pain I feel is real, I got this dreaded thing when I was 14 years of age after a very bad dose of glandular fever and then Ross river fever, some doctors even tell me that , its damage done by ross river, others tell me its not, I'm 32 now and have been living in total hell for longer then I care to remember, I have lost friends because of it, and had family doubting why I'm not feeling parents have moved both heaven and earth to find a solution and are very supportive, I read that letter "to the normals" I sat here stunned .... finally someones written what I need people to know, and lastly that somebody else feels the pain I do, thankyou so much...


snapdragon79 - July 4

forgot to mention...the pain is in the muscles that run up and down the sides of my spine, I have a slight curve in my spine but no other back problems, the muscles spasm and knot up and the doctor told me this has caused nerves to be damaged hence the pain like stabbing when I take a deep breath, it runs up though shoulders and also affects my neck so its hard to turn head to the side its then I have acupunture which only helps for a few days. thanks.


January - July 4

Hi snapdragon - You wrote you'd had serious illnesses before you got sick. By glandular fever, do you mean mono or EBV? I googled Ross River fever. It's an arbovirus. They say symptoms may linger for a while, but nothing about long term. Just my opinion, but that doesn't mean that some people WON'T have long term problems! Maybe they don't know yet. I've read that some people are genetically susceptible to certain viruses. Medicine is a constantly changing field - they get things wrong sometimes, and are always discovering new things. So ask questions. You might ask about treatment with low dose antiviral medication (Ross River fever is a virus, as is EBV). If you feel better on the medication - well, there's one answer for you! Or you can request tests for viral and bacterial infections, but they might not be complete. For example, Lyme Disease causes fibro like symptoms, but its' very hard to diagnose. I've read the "correct" treatment for that is 18-24 months of IV antibiotics.

There may be something to the idea of subtypes of fibro. Different causes and different treatments for different people. If you read this site you will see how we have similar basic symptoms, but we seem to fall into subtypes. Google Colorado Fibromyalgia Center, they have a good article there about different subtypes of fibro.

You said you felt better on the wheat free diet. If you are intolerant to gluten, you MUST avoid ALL wheat and cereal products. Gluten is "hidden" in things like flavorings, soy sauce, fillers for pills, etc. You have to get educated on how to follow this diet and know your symptoms. Read up on what celiac disease is - gluten inflames the small intestine and you can't absorb nutrients until it heals again. It took me a year on a STRICT gluten free diet to feel better. The horrible muscle cramps in my back are gone now.

Also, you mention your ferritin levels. I lifted this from Wikipedia "ferritin" - it gives some ideas of what cause low or high levels. Upper case is my emphasis:

If the ferritin level is low, there is a risk for lack of iron, which could lead to anemia. Low ferritin levels ([50 ng/mL) have, however, been associated with the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, even in the absence of anemia and sickness. In the setting of anemia, serum ferritin is the most specific lab test for IRON DEFICIENCY ANEMIA. However it is less sensitive, since its levels are increased in the blood BY INFECTION, OR ANY TYPE OF CHRONIC INFLAMMATION. Low ferritin may also indicate HYPOTHYROIDISM OR VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY.

[Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and malnutrition are common in gluten intolerance or celiac disease. - January]

If ferritin is high, there is iron in excess or else there is an ACUTE INFLAMMATORY REACTION in which ferritin is mobilized without iron excess. For example, FERRITINS MAY BE HIGH IN INFECTION without signalling body iron overload. Ferritin is also used as a marker for iron overload disorders, such as HEMOCHROMATOSIS, HEMOSIDEROSIS. ADULT-ONSET STILL'S DISEASE AND PORPHYRIA are two diseases which the ferritin level may be abnormally raised.

[Search back for our threads discussing Porphyria - which is a "rare" disease but has symptoms that can sometimes mimic fibromyalgia. Most drs. are unfamiliar with this disease and even getting proper testing is difficult. Google "American Porphyria Foundation" - they are very helpful! - January]

As ferritin is also an acute-phase reactant, it is OFTEN ELEVATED IN THE COURSE OF DISEASE. A normal C-reactive protein can be used to exclude elevated ferritin caused by acute phase reactions. Ferritin can be elevated during periods of ACUTE MALNOURISHMENT."

Please write these ideas down and discuss with your doctor. He may have some ideas on further testing.
I think the best thing you can do is get a proper diagnosis. You will feel better if you find the right treatment! Good luck with it. (Sorry this is so long!)


snapdragon79 - July 5

Hi Janary, thankyou for spending the time to reserch this, Im so grateful, I will write down most of that info, my diagnosis as it stands is chronic fatigue syndrome/ fybromyalgia...I'm pretty new to the world of computers still learning but will dig deeper,thankyou so much.


lacey - July 5

Hi snapdragon, I'm in Australia too and IMHO aussie doctor unless they learn Holistic medicine know not much.

I have finally found a new doctor in my area, who has only been in Australia for app 2 years and she gave me my diagnosis in the first 5 minutes. Needless to say, I will never go back to the other doctors. For the pains I get in my back, she recommended Magnesium tablets but you need to get the bottle that says 'Bone and Muscle Health'. This has helped me be able just to lie down without getting pain and cramps. If that doesn't work, try drinking extra milk.


snapdragon79 - July 5

Hi lacey, Thankyou for your post, Im on the gold coast qld, yes I know the back pain and trying to lay down for any period of time is difficult! Im taking wagner magnesium forte 400, I take two in the morning and two at night time, before that brand I took phara forte brand, that had added calcium, this one dosen't, just the price at time was too good to pass by! I drink soy milk, not a fan of cows milk makes me feel ill. I sleep with an electric blanket on high, but still some mornings I feel I have to roll out of bed rather then just swing my legs out of the bed! then stagger into the shower! the shower really helps me to stand up straight and to start taking deeper breaths!I hope you feel better soon thankyou for taking the time to post, take care.


Just Jo - July 31

I got about the same answer. Had stress test, Mean of 42 for Pulmonary HTN, so on to a right heart cath, "the only sure way" to determine. Oh, you're fine, nothing "significant". Just to rifht of sternum feels like what people talk about the left side of the chest hurting with heart attack. I have begun to think that FMSers listen to their bodies more than doctors are used to. The pain down the arms does not sound good. I would try finding a good cardiologist that is known for working with FMS patients.Good luck


barley - August 4

I too have been plagued with chest pain over the years, being admitted to hospital several times, only for them to find nothing, and for the cardiologists to make me feel like I'm wasting their time. Now just live with the pain, along with all the others. Barley



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