6 Months of Abdominal/Chest Pain - New Flank and Back Pain - Help!

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I'm hoping someone can help me out or has experienced something similar to me...

On October 1, 2017 I started having severe abdominal pain that was intermittent and migratory. It moved all over but was sharp and concerning enough that a few days later I went into the ER. They did a transvaginal ultrasound to make sure I didn't have ovarian cysts (I didn't). They offered to do a CT scan on me, but otherwise didn't want to do much more at that moment. For the rest of the month, I was in and out of my doctor's office with continued, severe symptoms of abdominal and flank pain and the start of changes in my bowels (going from one of the spectrum to the other). I had stool tests done, which were fine. My blood workup was always normal and showed nothing alarming. 

By November, I was starting to become extremely worried as nothing was getting closer to a diagnosis. I went to see my OBGYN to see if they had answers. They ran another ultrasound and discovered small cysts on one of my ovaries, but they said it was not what was causing pain. I went to see another primary care physician who started me up with new blood work and an abdominal ultrasound. Both came back normal. She had me start a medication for anxiety as she thought I had IBS. I started that, but that didn't help either (besides exacerbate other symptoms). I went to the ER again at the end of the month with severe pain and they ran a CT scan. The scan showed I had a good amount of sludge in my gallbladder, but they didn't think too much of it. I was referred to a GI by my PCP to explore that route.

In December, I started having a lot of pain in my chest - a lot of pressure, ache, and tightness. They ran all kinds of EKGs and said I was not having a heart attack but they didn't know what was causing it. They started me on a gluten and dairy free diet to see if that helped with the pain. It did help regulate my bowels, which has been helpful, but not any of the other pain. In January, I discontinued the anxiety medication as it wasn't making any difference and I hated taking it. My abdominal pain was through the roof so they performed a EGD. They found a benign polyp in my esophagus and stomach inflammation, but everything else was normal.

This past month has just been miserable. I'm supposed to be having a colonoscopy in May to rule out Crohn's and other IBDs, but I'm not too hopeful that they will find anything. My biggest concern is the gallbladder sludge that has been passed over. I have been doing a lot of research these past few months and I'm really wondering if this is where the problem lies this whole time. Here are my current symptoms: 

- Chest pain (on both sides, but tends to be more of my right)

- SEVERE flank and back pain (that extends towards my spine) - on the right side, but occasionally on my left too

- Pain and pressure in my chest and upper abdomen after eating (within 45 minutes - 3 hours)

- Intermittent pain in the middle of my abdomen (centered and to the sides)

- Bowel movements have had a yellow tinge to them and are frequent (3-4 times a day when I used to go once every day or two before)

- Fatigue - all. the. time. 

- So much nausea (usually following food after a bit of time passed)

- Low grade fever (hovering between 99 and 99.5)

Does anyone have similar symptoms? Does this sound like a gallbladder issue? I'm looking for help and any advice. I'm starting to get worried I have cancer or something sad

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Yep sounds very much like gallbladder pain, especially with pain after eating and also the yellow tinge to your stools. And the extreme nausea as well. The fact the scan showed gallbladder sludge should be an indicator that they need to look into how well the gallbladder is functioning. Which means you’d need a HIDA scan to check this. Hate when doctors go down the route of IBS when most of the time it’s not that. 

    Are you able to request for them to do a HIDA scan? Think this would be a really good start! Then if that shows it’s not working too well then you could hopefully have the gallbladder out and not need to bother with the colonoscopy. What I will say is that gallbladder problems and gastritis are pretty closely linked so probably worthwhile taking omeprazole or something similar to help with that. Hope you get to the bottom of things soon xx

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for replying! I really appreciate it!! I also keep getting sharp stabbing pain between my shoulder blades and then occasionally right down my spine and into my lower abdomen. It's so extremely painful. I just didn't know if that all sounded gallbladder related before trying to make my case with my doctor rolleyes

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  • Posted

    The lower abdo pain may possibly be the ovarian cysts though. They’re also worth keeping an eye on as you may have 2 issues overlapping xx
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  • Posted


    wow ?

    i could have wrote this myself to the day !

    i had the exact same thing happen to me on , 

    wait for it ?

    1/10/2014   How about that lol.

    but mine was a little more extreme yet the same , oh that back pain and oh that tight pressure around the mid chest like a small tire has been pulled over yr head, and oh the strange explosive bowel movements that just did not look right.

    you poor thing , and is it any wonder you have anxiety? Errr I think not !

    is it any wonder your starting to think you have cancer ? Err I think not.!

    i also went on to think I had pancreatic cancer and lived that way for 3 years be leaving I had it !!

    i became very ill both physically mentally and emotionally. It’s been a horrendous 3 years to say the least .

    im now 6 months post emergency opp to remove my gangrenous gallbladder,and although not nearly 100 per cent I’m much better and as to date very thankful for my wonderful surgeon,having saved my life. Although still having ongoing issues that I’m struggling to get to the bottom of.

    however I feel I have to agree with Scottie’s comments and you need a hide scan on this one !!!!

    but ide add an mri MRCP  most definitely as I think you may well have a small stone lodged in your common bile duct ! That ct scans can easily miss ! As can ultrasound easily miss !!!!

    maybe Scottie. Could give his input into this suggestion ?

    but yes that’s my thoughts and feelings .

    and yes I do think think this is gallbladder or bilery tree related !

    i really feel for you , as I’ve been their and what it’s doing to you emotionally and mentally is somehow worse that what it does to you physically.

    ide also suggest for the time being sticking to a very low fat diet !!

    while you concentrate on getting a hide scan performed and an mri mrcp .

    please keep us posted as to the outcome of both of those tests as I beleave somewhere in those two tests you will find yr diagnosis.

    good luck and try to keep strong ,hard as it is and don’t stop the fight until you get diagnosed.

    anything I can assist you with please do not hesitate as it’s an aufull place yr at right now, been their done it wore the t shirt.

    god bless you.

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much for the reply! Did you ever have a HIDA scan done? I'm considering asking for one. I have another abdominal ultrasound scheduled for tomorrow, but I doubt they will pick up on anything. Did you have pain in your flanks/sides with your gallbladder? I'm suffering from that and originally it was really just my right side, but it's starting to show up a bit on my left too. Ahh!!

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  • Posted

    KAves2188     Have you had the tests done re is your gall bladder working as it should due to the sludge being in it?    Have you read all there is to know about ursodioxycholic acid which dissolves gall stones of type.

    Since last week I read that urso can better the gall bladder and tubes. It is prescribed to help people with chirrosis of the liver as well.   It got rid of my stones without any problems re side effects but some do have side effects.

    Your specialist gastroenterologist is the best person to consult re any digestive problems you have?

    Best wishes

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  • Posted

    Yes it sounds like gallbladder to me!

    I also got told by the hospital that I only had sludge in my gallbladder and they told me it could cause biliary colic pain and to maybe try to eat better and see if it helps, which it didn't I still had to pain!

    They referred me to a general surgeon and he told me he would take my gallbladder out and I agreed to it! Well when the surgery was done I got told I didn't only have sludge I had lots of stone and my gallbladder was swollen. The surgeon said sometimes ultra sounds and other test don't pick up stones! I really hope you find relief soon because I really know how you feel I went thru the pain for two months and it wasn't fun. 

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    • Posted

      Hi! Yes - I don't know what is going on. I eat (what I think) is very well! Mostly fruits and vegetables with lean meat like chicken. All of this pain happened so suddenly that I was surprised to even hear I had sludge as I thought that wasn't a good thing haha. Did you end up having any other tests done after finding out you had sludge? I'm wondering if there is a test I should push for as I only have had ultrasounds and then my CT in November...

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  • Posted

    Definitely sounds like gallbladder to me as well. I didn't see you mention an abdominal ultrasound - have they done one of those? When I mentioned chest pain (my presenting symptom with my gallbladder issues) to my doctor and asked if it could be gallbladder she didn't quite buy it because it wasn't upper right quadrant pain but thankfully she listens to me and ordered an abdominal ultrasound anyway, which revealed multiple gallstones. 

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    • Posted

      Hi! Yes, I had an abdominal ultrasound in November and then I have another one scheduled for tomorrow. The first ultrasound was clear and the CT is what found the sludge. I kind of hope tomorrow they find something in my ultrasound so that maybe I can finally get an answer sad Did your chest pain radiate to your back at all - like between your shoulder blades or your neck?
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    • Posted

      It did radiate to the right side of my neck. I realized the cause of my pain was trapped gas in my chest, likely irritating my diaphragm and causing both the chest and neck pain. Why gallbladder issues cause trapped gas I’m not sure - I suppose because it’s all the digestive system. 
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    • Posted

      if  a stone is stuck in the gall bladder duct that will cause all sorts of related problems and medical attention may well be urgent.  I believe jaundice happens if the problem is dire due to the liver being 

      involved. All the symptoms regarding urgency I believe are on the NHS websites.

      My symptoms were horrendous & yet nothing was offered to me so I must have been lucky that the stone that was stuck was shifted with a whole lemon pulp in a quarter cup of nice warm olive oil. The thought of that episode makes me shudder. I did it though and came up smiling. That was after a lot of shi-------------g

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