Does Chronic Pancreatitis feel like a burning pain right below the breast bone in the middle?

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I am having some strange symptoms.  Very bad mid back pain that comes and goes.  Soreness on my left rib cage and around the side of my rib cage, and a burning feeling in the top of my stomach in the middle just below the breastbone.  The burning is worse after I drink coffee.  The pain in all areas was really bad last Sunday, I think because I had three glasses of wine Saturday night.  I am done with alcohol, so no need to tell me to stop.  Not worth worrying about this.  I had a CT scan last summer that was clear, as well as a clear ultrasound.  I am scheduled for an endoscopy in April.  I have never had an acute pancreatitis attack.  But the pain after alcohol concerned me.  What should I ask my doctor?  Many, many thanks.  I am the mom to special needs kids and I cannot be sick.

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  • Posted

    The pain you described doesn’t sound like pancreatic pain. Usually one would depict it as being gnawing, dull, heavy and if someone was wringing their stomach out as if it were a wet wash cloth. But, that’s not to say for certain that your pain may just be differently. If your CT and US was unremarkable, I doubt your pancreas is involved. Get well!

    DJ~RN

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  • Posted

    did they do an h pylori test?  my Doc did that right away because i guess it can cause pain like that and is often misdiagnosed as an ulcer.  pancreatic pain is usually right side under the ribs that wraps around to the back and it feel like you are going to die.  it's a horrible pain like something is in there chewing on you and you expect an alien to explode out of your stomach.  it's also what happens during a gallbladder attack.  if you haven't had the h pylori test i'd ask for it.  it comes from a water born bacteria and from what i was told most people that have ulcers have h pylori.  good luck to you.

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  • Posted

    The burning sounds more like acid reflux if it’s worse after you drink coffee. All my specialist have told me to stay away from coffee because it dehydrates the pancreas. Everyone is unique when it comes to pancreatitis because it’s very difficult to diagnose and the symptoms mimic so many other conditions. I had a regular endoscopy, ultrasound and blood tests all come back normal. A CT Enterography showed atrophy of my pancreas which was the start for me. A MRCP was the next test to reveal my pancreas problems and then ERCP was used to actually diagnose me with chronic pancreatitis. However I got chronic pancreatitis from my congenital abnormality called Pancreas Divisum. Without the MRCP, I probably wouldn’t be receiving treatment today. 
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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for the information.  Do you mind if I ask what symptoms led you to have all the tests?
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    • Posted

      I’m not your typical patient. I have other medical conditions so I had/have to see my doctor every month for pain management regarding my other conditions prior to this. My symptoms started approximately two years ago (maybe longer). I was put on a new pain medication and I started vomiting. I thought it was the new medication so I stopped it, however the vomiting didn’t stop. Then the abdominal pain came, at first it was dull and gradually progressed. I noticed after I ate the pain was worse and it radiated to my back (left side). As the months passed the pain was getting persistent and I started to lose weight (being bedridden). My hair was falling out, my skin was itching, unintentional weight loss, gut wrenching abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, bloating, and acid reflux are the biggest symptoms that come to my mind. The doctors liked to blame anything/everything on my other conditions which made things harder for me. I have a nerve disease that makes my nerves misfire and contract my muscles. I knew my abdominal pain was not related to my nerve pain since I lived with it daily. I was very persistent with my primary doctor about the amount of pain I was in. I have a high tolerance and my doctor knew it (I’ve had at least one surgery every year since 2002-2016, some years up to five surgeries in one year). I was already on pain medication and couldn’t control the pain. Unfortunately, all my tests were coming back normal, until the CT Enterography showed atrophy. I researched atrophy of the pancreas and told my doctor since it was out of her expertise (she’s honest with me about what she knows and doesn’t). I always get copies of my tests because the doctors don’t tell you everything. I had an ultrasound state everything was in my head … when in fact, the ultrasound didn’t find the Pancreas Divisum or chronic pancreatitis. This is why I researched the medical terminology from my tests and pointed it out to my doctor. If it’s out of their expertise, they may not know what to look for. The GI specialist advised me I may also have gastroparesis as well, so I’m on medication for that, which has helped with the bloating and constipation (huge difference to be honest). Now I go every other month for an ERCP as treatment to widen both my pancreatic ducts for the Pancreas Divisum. However, Pancreas Divisum is rare. My pancreas specialist advised me it only happens to 5% of the population and it’s usually discovered in an autopsy. I guess I’m just a lucky gal LOL. I have a saying, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen to me. I’m pretty young and have had my share of medical issues but I’m grateful for my family and support groups like this. I have a few rare conditions but it’s getting to the diagnosis that’s the battle. When I feel any abdominal pain, I rest my pancreas. I drink chicken broth, Ensure and try to eat an orange because it helps with inflammation. I also use heat packs on my stomach and mid back. If I can state one thing, try your hardest not to stress. The stress and anxiety can literally cause you pain. If you can, distract yourself, your mind from the pain. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The more you think about it the more you “notice” pain. I understand it’s not easy at all but try and think positive things or your happiest memories. I hope anything above helps you and you feel better soon. 
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    • Posted

      Oh my goodness, you are amazing!  Everything you have endured and you take the time to answer people's questions, AND you have a positive attitude.  You have given me good information and great perspective.  Thank you and God Bless.

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  • Posted

    You need to wait to be diagnosed.  I had acute and spent 3.5 weeks in ICU and 3 hospital stays within 3 months of that.  The pain is unbearable!!! Your symtoms could be so many diffrent things.  Stay off the internet and stop searching for someone on these sites to help you diagnose.   Each one of us has experienced different situations.  No one but a good GI Dr can diagnose.  Pancreatitis is not always easy to diagnose but I can tell you I do not know anyone who will not tell you the pain is excruciating!!

    I wish you luck and hope it is not your pancreas!!

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