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Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Chest pressure with arm and face numbness


 damienalex - Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:06 pm

Hello, i'm not sure this is the right place to post this, if it's not, i'm so sorry!
I'm 25. For the past about month and a half i've had on and off symptoms and i'm not sure what they mean. I have slight chest pressure on the left side. It's never really bad, and comes and goes from time to time, some days for most of the day on and off, some days just once or so. Also, I have a weird feeling in my left arm and left side of my face. My left arm about 90% of the time feels weird. It veries from just slight weakness kinda feeling to sometimes feels like it's fully asleep, sometimes in between. I also have slight numbness in the left side of my face. It seems to get worse when my left arm is the worst. My face is usually either tingly or just numb. My arm feels weak like i shouldn't be able to lift anything or lift it up but i'm still able to lift it and pick stuff up. Sometimes it gets cold when it happens. It comes and goes also. Most days my arm does have some sort of weird feeling thruout most of the day, where as my face comes and goes, some days only occuring once. I'm not sure what this could be, if it's heart related, like clot or clog or something else. If this isn't the right place to ask, i'm sorry! Thanks for any advice.

Oh, also. I'm overweight by quit a bit, i smoked for about 5 years, but i've been done for almost 2. My grandfather has had problems with clogged arteries and my brother had a heart attack at age 29 (they aren't sure what caused it tho, he was a pretty heavy drug user so that could be why) I don't do drugs or drink. Anything else you need to know let me know!
 damienalex - Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:53 pm

I also wanted to add that today the face tingling has been thru most of the day but it's been from the top of my head to right below my cheek bone. It's worse today than it usually is, and is lasting alot longer than it normally has. I did go to the doc about a month ago, but back then it was just from my elbow down on my arm that felt weird, just my cheek (he said could be bells palsy since it was only my cheek) and the chest pressure he said was more than likely a pulled muscle. He did an EKG (the 3 second one) and said everything came out just fine. I guess what i'm worried about is that it's getting worse. I have headaches not very stong ones, but they're ...annoying...every other day about, and i've never really been one to get headaches. I'm just trying to get an idea of what you think this could be, if it's just that i should lose weight (which i know i need to do, i've already lost some) if it all could be just a pinched nerve or something from being overweight, or if you think it could be something more serious (my boyfriend has always joked it off saying stuff like "oh you probably have a brain tumor or it's probably cancer or a heart disease...which i get he don't think it's anything serious, but it's got me worried lol. Thanks for any advice!!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:57 pm

User avatar Hello -- While I don't think your symptoms are likely heart-related, this is as good an area as any to ask about the problem, and probably the best starting place, if only to eliminate heart issues. Of course it is possible this could be heart related, but it really doesn't sound much like it at all. It does sound as though it could possibly be caused by a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which often causes chest pain and tenderness, numbness, tingling and "weird" sensations in the arm and hand on the affected side, and sometimes even puffiness in the hand on the affected side. It can affect just the ulnar nerve that passes between the collar bone and first rib, or sometimes can compress both the nerve and the blood vessels that pass through this space. This would seem most likely to me, although because of your overweight and bad family heart history I'd like to see at least a cursory cardiac workup first, just to be perfectly clear on this. It's the best way to work out things, from the top down, rule out the most serious possibilties first, then go on down to the more likely and less worrisome ones (TOS isn't dangerous, just annoying and sometimes pretty uncomfortable). A simple cardiac eval including resting EKG and a good listen to the chest/heart should rule out any frank heart issues. An MRI of the brachial plexus (area including the shoulder, deltoid and upper chest) may disclose TOS, which sometimes is due to an extra (cervical) rib or sometimes poor posture. It often responds well to physical therapy or posture exercises, but if there's a cervical rib present it may require removal of the rib to relieve the symptoms -- which then becomes a matter of just how much do you want to get rid of the symptoms, since they won't do any real damage, but can be pretty uncomfortable. The rib thing is not that common, but is sometimes present. More often the TOS is caused by poor posture over a long time or even to a physical trauma.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck to you. Please follow up with us here as needed.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:33 am

User avatar Looks as though my response and your second post overlapped backwards. Sorry about that! It happens sometimes, probably due to time zone differences. Anyway, the headaches and facial tingling could be related to the other stuff, but there is always the possibility of a crazy coincidence where two different things are going on at once. When this happens people (doctors included) tend to look at them as one complaint due to one problem -- a quirk of human nature I suppose -- but often there is comorbidity -- two different things happening at once. It's not much different than catching a cold right about the time you break an arm, except we have no doubt the broken arm won't be making your nose run. :)

The headaches and facial tingling, since the latter is confined to one side, should probably be explored as a possible separate entity. And your boyfriend may be more anxious than he sounds and trying to play it off by making these "jokes", but he really needs to be a little more sensitive! I don't think anything terrible is going on, but when we don't know what's causing odd symptoms we do tend to become anxious and usually go to the worst case scenario in our minds. You don't need any extra suggestions like that!

Don't let the medical people give you the brush-off. Pursue this and maybe even suggest the possibility the two problems may be separate. There's a tendency, when a patient is anxious because of symptoms, to attribute the symptoms to pre-existing anxiety -- another human nature thing but one that often causes a concrete problem to be missed or the diagnosis delayed. Make sure you're treated like a person and not a set of symptoms.

Let us know how things go.

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