Medical Specialty >> Pulmonology

Doctors Lounge - Pulmonology Answers

Back to Pulmonology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: chest pain on and off for 20 years

 lee wagstaff - Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:40 pm

Hi I’m male 47 years old and have had chest, arm and armpit pain for 20 years on and off,
But the last year or so it had been bad,
it start with cloudy urinea (the first bit) then a few little pains in the left side off my chest, working up to very sharp pains that feel deep, I also get pain under my arm and sometimes in my arm to my hand, (more like a ache)
It was so painful I was only out of bed for a few hours a day.
I first went to the doc's 20 years ago and he said they was nothing wrong with me,
He said that by just looking at me, he did not examine me.
I have been to the doc's about 10 times over the years and they say after a quick exam there’s nothing wrong it must be in my mind. so i have just been bearing it.
So this last time I changed my doc, s and he has said the same, but if you want you can go private. (2nd opinion)
so I went Private I had to wait 6 months for the tests by this time I felt ok again I had an water, blood, ekg and then I had a running test, cost £490 he said tests were ok.
I’m now starting to get sharp stabbing pains again and have pain under my arm all the time,
if I go back to the doc's I know what he will say, (you have had this for 20 years it cant be series) I have told him it very painful and he said take some pain killers, but they don’t work.
Do you know what this is or what I should do, as I don’t know what to do now.

 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:42 pm

User avatar Dear lee wagstaff,
It would be helpful if you could explain the type of pain that you have and if there are other associated symptoms or signs in addition to any other medical condition for which you are receiving any medical care.
The possibility that your symptoms to be of a cardiac origin is not high and this is why your doctor feels comfortable about your complaints. However, being persistent for such long time, more over since they are progressing, it is worth searching for a possible cause. You have to keep in mind also that sometimes chest pain especially of muscle or myoskeletal origin is of unknown causes and in some cases certain conditions are diagnosed by exclusion as in dysautonomia.
Brachial plexus compression gives similar symptoms.
The Brachial Plexus represents a network of nerves that supply the upper part of the body (skin and muscles). To reach the upper trunk it passes through different areas where it can be stretched or compressed at different levels. One of them is under the muscles of the chest wall (pectoralis minor) which help the shoulder to be bent froward or in between the scalene muscles at the root of the neck. Symptoms according to the area where it is affected and generally lead to numbness and weakness of the affected part.
Activities in which there is frequent overhead use of arm, forward bending, or heavy weight on the shoulder are more likely to aggravate the condition. For example when a person wake up with the arm or part of chest wall numb after keeping the hand over the head while sleeping is common.
Physical examination and imaging studies can help define the cause.
Maintaining good posture and physical excercise can help improve symptoms.

Muscle pain due to different causes can give similar pain on the chest , of these causes:
Fibromyalgia in which muscle pain (myalgia) that is present at rest and increases with movement, tenderness (pain when press on the affected muscles). That involves any muscles in the body and goes away then recurs in another muscle or group of muscles, etc,
I advise you to take an appointment with your consultant discuss with him this possibility, after complete examination and investigations he can reach proper diagnosis.
Best regrads,

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us