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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cardiology Topics

Question: pain in back and chest (left) for about a year

 melissR - Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:05 pm

I have had this nagging pain in my back left side almost in between my shoulder blades.It hurts if I move my back a certain way. the pain has now been radiating to my chest, neck, arm, hand and also under my ribs. It sometimes is stabbing pain that lasts a minute or 2 sometimes longer but always goes away. the back pain is always there the other symptoms only come and go. I also have a lot of anxiety i was diagnosed with mild depression but i am too scared to take the medication I always seem to think i am going to have a heart attack when this pain occurs but i never do i feel like i go to the emergency room all the time and nothing happens could i be having panic attacks? but why do i always have this neck and shoulder pain, i am now afraid of having lung cancer or something. should i see a chiropractor for the back pain
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:18 pm

User avatar Hello -

The pain you describe is almost certainly not heart-related. The fact that it's remained stable for an entire year argues against it, as does your age (or youth). Further, heart pain cannot be duplicated by moving the upper body, which is something you mentioned (moving your back a certain way). Finally, cardiac pain is almost never described as "sharp." Since it radiates and is aggravated by certain movements, it probably involves impingement of a nerve. This is a very common problem, and while a chiropractor may be able to help with it, first you need to know what the problem is, so an orthopedist would probably be your best starting point for that.

You also state you have a lot of anxiety as well as some depression (the two often go hand in hand, as depression follows panic attacks many times the way a hangover follows a drinking binge). I don't know what medication you've been prescribed for this, but there's very little chance that it would disagree with you and certainly wouldn't do any harm. If it should produce unwanted side effects such as a worsening of your anxiety (antidepressants sometimes do have this side effect where anxiety is also present) there are many alternate drugs which can be prescribed, but you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try, since more often than not the relief is enormous and unwanted side effects are relatively rare and not serious.

You definitely could be having panic attacks, and your concern over the pain you've been experiencing could well produce the occasional panic attack, since the process of ruminating over physical symptoms can accellerate very rapidly and throw one into feeling as though something terrible is happening when not much of anything is happening in reality. This is a rough thing to have to live with, and so is chronic pain. If you could separate the two and have each of them treated (you already have medication for either anxiety or depression, and quite often antidepressants are used to treat anxiety as well, so it's really worth a try -- and if it disagrees with you it can be discontinued and/or changed).

I hope this has been of some help to you. Bring the pain to the attention of an orthopedist, and give the medication a trial of maybe a set number of weeks (if is is an antidepressant they can take up to a couple weeks to become fully effective, so maybe try it for a month and if it seems to be working, just keep on with it -- if not, stop it and discuss the reason for stopping with your doctor).

Best of luck to you with this. It's not easy, but it all can be managed. You just have to take that first step.

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