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Pressure and pain in ribs and chest


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#1 kiwimum03

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 05:36 PM

Hi,

I just wondered if anyone else had this kind of problem?

I ended up in the ER last night after my husband called an ambulance. I have had very tender ribs on the left side (spleen area) and a dry cough for about a week. and then yesterday I felt like someone was squeezing me from behind and a lot of pressure in my chest and felt like I couldn't breathe.

I ended up hyperventilating and my hands turned purple, hence my husband calling the ambulance! Poor guy.
I was in the ER for 6 hours, the first two hours I couldn't even talk without sounding drunk because of the pressure in my chest and hyperventilation. They ran a gazillion tests, did a chest x-ray and a arterial blood gas test and found nothing wrong thankfully.

Their conclusion is that it is related to my connective tissue disease and I must have inflammation in my ribs and chest.

As they couldn't do more for me they let me go home, but as long as I promised to come back if I got short of breath again.

Today the pain is still there, and I still have some slight pressure in my chest, but no SOB (shortness of breath) anymore, I am just uncomfortable.

I have been on Plaquenil for 4 years but am contemplating Methotrexate, would that help more with the inflammation?

Thanks! Hugs :)

#2 Vanessa

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 02:32 AM

You poor girl. Must have been pretty scary.

I dont have any suggestions but I would like to say round of applause to you managing all this and bringing up 3 kids.

I am 55 and was diagnosed quite recently and both my girls are at uni, but I have often pondered on how I would have managed had it happened when they were younger.

Hats off. Sending you healing vibes and please keep us posted.

Vanessa

#3 erika

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 03:14 AM

Dear Kiwimum,

Pressure in chest is my problem too. Not so much ribs but more upper part. For years this was dedicated to my allergy but now I don't know any more. Asthma was never proved medically and the pressure appears sometimes even when there is no allergens in the air. Sometimes it was so serious that I felt dizziness in my head. Once when it was particularly frightening I took a taxi and went to Emergency Rescue by myself. They did not find anything life threatening, just some heart ventricular extrasystoles on EKG. My oxygen saturation was fine. These extrasystoles still bother me although doctors do not care about it. Do not know how to solve this. Some help I found in Xanax which was prescribed by my neurologist. It releases the chest muscles.

Have no idea what is happening.

Regards,

Erika

#4 Sheryl

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 02:29 PM

Kiwimum02, sorry to hear about the problems you are having. Have your doctor's mentioned anything about Costochondritis. Some of your symptoms sure sound like it could be a possibility. You might want to check into this condition when you have time. I sure hope you start feeling better soon.
Strength and Warmth,
Sheryl

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#5 Sandy B

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 10:21 PM

Hi Kiwimum,

Chest pains are always a scary thing, About 18 months ago I was alone one night and started experiencing gripping pains in my chest that came in spasms which gradually got worse with each new episode. For half an hour I sat thinking Noooooo, I can't be having a heart attack, but made up my mind if it continued for another ten minutes then I would indeed call an ambulance. Well fortunately the pains subsided, but I did book an appointment the next day with my doctor. Having explained the pain, how it started etc. etc, he was able to diagnose that what I had experienced was an oesophageal spasm in the centre of my chest which can often mimick a heart attack and of which, apparently many people end up in accident and emergency with such pains every year. It was very scary at the time and left me quite overwhelmed with it all the next day.

I was just wondering whether your pains could be related to perhaps a stricture in your oesophagus ( I hasten to add I have no medical background, it's just a suggestion) and I have as yet no experience of oesophageal strictures so would not know if they would cause this type of pain. But I hate being fobbed off by medical staff who say it must be this or that when no tests have shown conclusively what it may or may not be.

If it does happen again, don't be scared to get it checked out pretty pronto, you take care and I hope the pain eases for you soon.

Sandy B

#6 kiwimum03

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 12:09 AM

Thanks to everyone for their replies,

I am still sore today, with pressure in the chest but no shortness of breath. Unfortunately I have woken up with arthritis in my feet which I haven't had in a long time, it seems like the inflammation is doing the rounds in my body.

Vanessa ~ thank you for the encouragement. My kids are such a blessing to me and bring me so much joy everyday :) when I woke up from a nap yeserday, here were my three little boys with their toy doctor kits out, masks on their faces, putting plasters on me. Bless them.

Erika ~ I hope you get some answers to your chest pain too. It's quite scary isn't it! Interesting you mentioned the Xanax, I just remembered on reading it, that I had reduced my Amitriptyline the week before, and I know that can relax the muscles, so perhaps by me reducing it triggered something?.......again I am speculating, but if I don't who will?

Sheryl ~ I have had what the doctors told me was Costochondritis in my chest before, I found that pain to be quite sharp and uncomfortable, this pain does seem different, but I am not ruling it out that it is presenting in a different way. I will chat with the rheumatologist about it.

Sandy ~ I think that the pressure in my oesophagus and the shortness of breath must have something to do with my GERD. So perhaps I am in a flare causing patches of inflammation in the ribs that is extending up to my chest and oesophagus as well. Just speculation mind you!

I have only just seen the rheumatologist 4 weeks ago, and did mention pressure in my throat that I have had on and off over the last few months. She just said it was my GERD, but that doesn't help that it is getting worse (well I think it is), I really think perhaps I should ask them to have another look down my throat. I had a scope done about 3 years ago, but I really feel things have changed alot since then.

Thanks for all the great thoughts and advice, you guys are awesome.
I will let you know if I learn anything new, for now I am staying quiet and calm, I really don't want another flare like the other day.

Big Hugs :)

#7 kiwimum03

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:36 AM

Hi,

I am just wondering if anyone else has any ideas on this.

I ended up back in the ER over the weekend for 3 days. One doctor mentioned CREST, one doctor said Eosphageal spams and one doctor said a breathing disorder.

Since coming out on Monday, I have had three more "attacks". My husband almost called an ambulance, but I managed to suffer through it for a hour until it eased, as I didn't know what more they could do.

It has come to the point where I am too scared to eat now, as I think that triggers the attacks, I already lost 3kgs in the hospital, no one seemed worried. I am going to a different general practitioner today to see if they can piece it together.

My attacks go like this:
Chest pain, and then pressure across the ribs, pain under my left breast, the ribs are very sore to touch, VERY bloated stomach. Shaking, or spasms start in the middle of my chest sort of in between the breasts, my nails turn purple and my hands turn blue, my jaw locks and then my teeth start chattering, and my right hand starts shaking.

After about 10mins this eases and then the pressure in my chest starts and my throat feels thick and I have to whisper. This lasts for about 15 mins, and then it eases and I am left with a very sore back and chest for another hour.

Very scary and frightening.

In the hospital my ECG was NOT normal, they were going to order another one, but then they didn't. The had me down to have a Gastroscope done, but then another doctor came on and said I must have a breathing disorder and cancelled it. My blood pressure was up and down. Normal for me is 130/90 on meds. In the hospital it went down to 108/52, and before I left it was 111/100.

I am remaining calm and doing all the breathing exercises they told me, that is helping to keep me calm, but it doesn't stop the attacks which seem to come on about an hour after I eat something solid (hence the reason I am too scared to eat) oh I forgot to mention that I get very cold inside when I eat, and also during the attacks my insides are freezing. It's like my body goes into shock whilst something is happening in my stomach?

I am not asking anyone to diagnose me, this is why I am going back to the doctors today I am just wondering if anyone out there has any ideas, could this be Scleroderma eosphagus, or a stricture?

Thanks heaps

#8 Vanessa

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 12:19 AM

I am SO sorry to hear that you still have all this frightening stuff going on.

I am no medical expert but I think I would keep representing myself at A&E. If you are attending a Sclero specialist hospital maybe you could go to their A&E even if it is not your local one.

I hope you find some help.

Best wishes

Vanessa

#9 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:15 AM

Hi Kiwimum,

I'm sorry you are having these health issues and hope you find something to ameliorate them soon.

Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor, I have no medical training at all, and I have a peculiar preference for bandaids that have cartoon characters on them. :blink:

What struck me from your message is that I had a full-blown anxiety attack once, and it was almost identical to the episodes you are describing, with Raynaud's and shaking (even on just one side) and all. I have to say it felt worse than nearly any other ailment I've had! Just to confuse matters, often the anxiety attacks can be caused by an underlying medical problem (such as adrenal gland tumors or asthma or esophageal spasms or costochondritis), can trigger further medical problems (such as inspiring Raynaud's), or can occur right alongside them.

Plus, one time I thought I was having an anxiety attack or a heart attack, but it turned out I was having a major gall bladder attack (goodbye, gallbladder!).

Very confusing, I know! In fact, I have a friend who thought she was having panic attacks for many years, but it turned out she was having asthma attacks and assuming it was panic attacks. And some people have serious underlying health issues that aren't caught until after they are diagnosed with anxiety attacks (when they are trying to find the cause of them.)

So, what I'm saying is, you and your doctors will have quite a time sorting this out. For example, esophageal spasms or costochondritis don't cause Raynaud's or shaking. However, having a panic reaction set in, in response to esophageal spasms for example, isn't unusual, especially if we're thinking that the esophageal spasms might be a heart attack! Anyway, you may want to consider reading up on anxiety attacks, see if any of your symptoms could be set aside as due to that, and see what symptoms are "left over".

Just remember, you're not a doctor and neither am I, so ask your doctor which, if any, of your symptoms could be attributed to anxiety, and if it is a continuing issue, be sure to get treatment for it, as that might alleviate enough of the symptoms to find out what is left over that may still require diagnosis and treatment.

I did that, and they ran an adrenal gland test that showed I had very high levels along with a very abnormal pattern, all indicative of an adrenal gland tumor. Then they ran additional tests, and it turned out that, in the end, everything was just dandy. So what came first, the chicken or the egg -- did high adrenal levels cause the panic attack, or did the panic attack cause high adrenal levels? Go figure. I was just delighted to have the whole thing done with!
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#10 Sweet

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:16 AM

Hey Kiwi,

Goodness that does sound scary. A couple of things come to my mind. 1) cardiac problem - I would make them repeat an ECG. 2) esophageal spasm - for which they could give you something to relieve that. I have that as well, as it sounds very similar to what you are describing, but maybe not as severe. That goes along with CREST which is what I have. 3) Costochondritis as Sheryl mentioned which is an inflammation of a rib or the cartilage connecting a rib 4) pleurisy - which is an inflammation of the lining of the lung.

I wouldn't ignore anything of these, make the doctors do their job. :) If I have to fly over there and make them, you just let me know. Looking for an excuse to head back to New Zealand anyway. :emoticons-yes:
:flowers:
Warm and gentle hugs,

Pamela
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#11 kiwimum03

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:06 PM

Thanks Pam, Vanessa and Shelley for your lovely replies.

I went and saw a new general practitioner yesterday, as I was having trouble keeping food and liquids down. He is referring me to the Gastro Specialist ASAP and told me if I have any more serious attacks or if my food doesn't stay down by tomorrow to go back to the hospital.

I had a small attack last night 10mins after taking my nighttime medication. I took care not to panic and breathe slowly through the pain, as the last few attacks I am certain I panicked like Shelley said which caused the shortness of breath and shaking.

This time my hands still turned dusky blue, and my teeth still chattered, but I DIDN'T have shortness of breath or the shaking hand thing.

Today luckily I have kept all my food and drink down, I get full after only a few bites and I have a gag reflex after about 10mins and I can feel the food coming up, but I managed to keep it down.

So far today no major epigastric pains, although it is obvious my dysmotility has gotten much worse.

Still today I feel a bit better and hoping for a pain free night.

Thanks again for the replies!

Hugs x

#12 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:29 PM

Hi Kiwimum,

I'm glad you're sorting out the panic from the inspiring symptoms, and helping to ease a few aspects of the attacks a bit. I sure hope the gastroenterologist will be of help, and get this nabbed and treated for you!

My husband would be prone to starting to have panic attacks, along with severe asthma attacks with his severe COPD. I mean, my goodness, not being able to breathe is a frightening feeling! Anyway in pulmonary rehab they taught him how to relax when he is having shortness of breath and/or asthma attacks. I knew from that not to panic myself when he was having an episode, and just go about things as usual -- in essence, ignoring him so as not to make things worse.

That works perfectly fine unless other people are around, and then they look at me with alarm, such as, don't you even NOTICE your husband is coughing/gagging/wheezing to death? Then I have to reassure them that he is perfectly fine, this is completely normal and the important thing is not to get him any more riled up with an over-reaction. My husband was always able to settle himself down with inhalers and relaxed deep breathing (and before transplant, by turning up his oxygen). I say "was" because he hasn't had any attacks since his lung transplant earlier this year.

That's just another example of the very fine interaction between real symptoms and real panic. They often, and very easily, can cross lines with each other!
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#13 Sandy B

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 05:42 AM

Hi Kiwimum,

Sorry you are still having such scary problems. Some of your symptoms sound like oesophageal spasm (I have only had the one to date and it was very very scary) and some symptoms sound like S.I.B.O. (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) which I also suffer from. This can make you feel really full as you say just after two or three mouthfuls and quite nauseous too and has the added problem of causing a great deal of wind. I periodically take antibiotics for this problems and I am currently having investigations to see if it is due to dysmotility.

Wondering if any of the above sound similar to what you are experiencing, certainly sounds like you have a combination of different things going on there.

Hope you find some answers soon, take care and chin up.

Sandy B

#14 kiwimum03

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 10:34 AM

Thanks Shelley and Sandy for your replies,

I have had no more attacks (eosophagael spasms?) since Thursday night, but am still unable to eat or drink much without it floating back up and I am very nauseated in the mornings. My lips are cracking so I suspect I am a bit dehydrated, so I will go back to the doctor tomorrow as I have high blood pressure and I am worried about the effects of dehydration on my kidneys amongst other things.

After a bit of reading I am wondering if the Vagus Nerve might be involved when I have my attacks as that might help explain the blue hands and uncontrollable teeth chattering, purely me just theorizing of course!

Sandy, I have had a bit of wind, not too much, and in the beginning of my attacks I didn't but now I have been getting terrible gripe pains midday, but I am swinging from constipation to diarrhea, so I don't know about that. I am only eating vegetable soups as anything more solid just doesn't seem to want to stay down.

The other problem I have been having at night is that I feel like I have something stuck in my throat, almost like the back of my tongue touches my throat and I can't breathe, even though I can. Then my food comes back up and the sensation goes away, so I guess that is just the food sitting just under the larynx or something........again speculating! (which is all I can do :)

Thank you all for letting me vent and chat, it is extremely helpful and encouraging to have such support.

Hugs

#15 enjoytheride

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:32 PM

This whole thing sounds very frightening. I do know that Raynaud's can be triggered by stress too so maybe that is part of the panic thing too.

Since eating makes you cold, do you think that getting yourself warm before eating might help? Even doing things like wearing a hat indoors? And maybe drinking something warm before actually eating anything? And eating very small amount very frequently?

I have never had anything like that so can't really offer anything but sympathy and best wishes that they figure this out in a hurry.

#16 kiwimum03

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 12:30 AM

Thanks for your thoughts and great comments enjoytheride,

I have had to eat very small meals so I can take in more fluid which has helped my dehydration thank goodness.
I also now dont' drink or eat anything cold, that helps too.

Thanks for your suggestions.......hopefully I get my gastro appt soon.

fingers crossed x