Dull Ache in Chest/Back for a Year...

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Hi. I'm a 25 y/o male with no history of heart problems.

For the past year, I've had a dull, aching pain in on the left side of my chest, and left/upper back. It comes and goes. The pain gets worse when I tilt my head down toward my chest, and when I take a deep breath with my head forward.

My pain does not get worse when I exercise (actually disappears) and is worst when at rest.

I've had x-rays, EKGs, and blood work done—all normal except for mildly high cholesterol.

Please, if anyone has felt what I'm feeling before, or knows what I'm describing, please tell me what I should do. I'm so sick of feeling this way—I just want to feel normal again.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh dude I hear you and hmmm? I stumbled on this site doing, exactly what I know, to be an unwise action. Self diagnosing online. BUT, when the medical profession shrugs, implies you are fine, maybe it's in your head? We must rally, come back stronger and do whatever must be done to be, properly, correctly diagnosed and treated. WE know our bodies, our DR's dont. So sorry you're going through this. So, in my desperate attempt to figure out why I have a spot on my lung, I landed here and I think THIS time it was via the search: Can A Chest Xray Reveal Pleursy?  I'm having, similar, but not exact, but unusual chest symptoms...I believe all triggered by a fungal sinus infection. New home, obvious failure to disclose, cover up of toxic mold....another story but I was directly exposed to these airpborne molds & toxins for weeks? it triggered severe sinus infection. I have Chronic Sinusitus so am quite familiar with them but have never had one cause blurred vision, plus 3 anitbiotics later, not gone, So, sick of waiting on my Dr. hear me,  I went to ER 1 wek ago. That is how I even got a Sinus CT with clear readings of an infection (still no indication of fungal or bacterial~ENT appt.in over a moth). When at ER I mentioned the symptoms, similar to yours. Hence, they ordered a chest Xray but I think you need a CT as Xrays show minimal findings. Although, in my case, the Next day, a call from ER Dr.  "there is a spot on my chest Xray. It could be in my brest, my chest, impossible to tell where, It could be cancer, or not"  Blood drains from head and face, shock. My mum and sis died of lung cancer. I'm havin symptoms similar to yours but I am female so, pain can elude itself as chest or breat pain seems more in my chest or lungs. It's even slightly painful tender to touch, including sternum and all below, along, between breast line so, likely chest related? Again, In spite of the Xray, my family history and these symptoms my 12 year old Dr. practicing medicine 8 months now knows it all! Including my body!!  "Growth is in my chest is unlikely cancer" That does not reassure as, for the record, this was what every Dr.has said, in the beginning, to every friend, family, loved one, who has or had, and lost battle to cancer. "It is nothing" Lumps....It is nothing! In my case, Nothing being a spot on my xray? OK, sorry, I just vented because I have these symptoms and the history, asthma flare up but Dr. refuses to hear so we MUST assert ourselves. I was just reading about Pleursy. Those symptoms sound familiar to yours.....and a bit to mine. Check that out and, may I suggest that you sternly, politely, request a Chest CT!! That is the only way you will get more details. Sounds like you have health insurance so hopefully that helps? Or...when the pain is flared up, severe, go to ER. I got more accomplished there, in 3 hours, than in 3 weeks. Since you are, literally, having chest pain, they should get you in quicker. Can't hurt to check out Pleursy symptoms causes etc. I used the Mayo Clinic site.   Good luck.
    • Posted

      Thanks for the response. It's acutally really strange that you had a cancer scare—for a few months, I was going full-on hypochondriac on myself and was convinced I had lung cancer (despite never having a case of it in my family and never smoking). I went to get a second x-ray on a day where my chest pain was more bothersome than usual, and the Dr. said that there was a small spot on my lung...Nothing quite like coming to grips with your mortality on a Tuesday afternoon. 

      Anyway, the doctor had sent my xray to a radiologist and called me back the next day to tell me that the radiologist said that the spot wasn't acutally a spot at all and was very normal. I showed it to a friend and very well-established radiologist who also said that my xray was "as normal as could be".

      So like you, I've found myself determined to get a CT, Echocardiogram, or something more definitive, with my only hesitation being that my GP has refused to perscribe it (thinks it's uneccessary) so it's not covered by insurance.

      I just wish that there was something out there that perfectly matched my symptoms. I don't exhibit the common symptoms of a heart issue, or of cancer, or of a pulled muscle or anything else, which is the most frustrating part.

      The not knowing is like a constant cloud over my head, and like i'm in a fight with some invisible thing...

    • Posted

      Hi Taylor I have the same symptoms too it's 12 months also for me I've had chest xray mammogram numerous ecgs and numerous bloods all clear I've attended ane 4 times with the pain they tell me there I'd be dead long ago if it was my heart it aches bad on breathing in unlike you I haven't had a pain free day since sep pain is constant my diagnoses differs between costocondritus pectoral strain and breast pain since my last gp visit in dec there now sending me to the respitory clinic ,my gp requested a ct bk in June but hospital refused as benefit has to outweigh the risk of the radiation and obviously my chest xray was clear ,I go round and round in circles with this drs have told me straight last thing they can do is just refer to pain clinic if I get no joy at hospital app I've been told if this was lung cancer I'd have many more symptoms with it being there a year I'd likely be dead I expect I've seen cancer and once symptoms start they don't stop unless you get treatment and I guess it would cause bleeding by now from a big tumour if one was there it sound muscular to me from your description look up costocondritus there's also a fb group I'm in and ppl have the same symptoms you describe
  • Posted

    Hi Taylor

    Well, this is a difficult one. Its quite feasable that you could be trapping a nerve and when you are exercising, this somehow makes it better.

    It is also possible that you just have this pain. Unfortunately, there are some people whom have pain and will never find out why they have itsad

    How long is it after exercising do you get the pain back.?

    Are you trying any painkillers, if so, which ones?

    Do you have any neck or spinal problems?

    Type to you soon and chin up, all the best.

    Kev  (UK)  rolleyes

    • Posted

      Hi Kev,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. It's weird to hope for a diagnosis even if its something not great, but an unexplained pain forever would drive me nuts rolleyes.

      To answer your questions, It will disappear as soon as I get into the workout/start to work up a sweat, and will start coming back as soon as my heart rate comes back down.

      Strangely enough, none of the pain-killers I've tried have remedied my discomfort (advil, tylenol, aleve, etc.) The only medication that I've taken that really seems to have any effect on it has been anti-anxiety medication. 

      Anxiety runs in my family, and the doctor seems to think it could be the cause of my discomfort. Still, even when I'm on the medicine the pain doesn't completely go away. 

      And finally, no neck or spinal problems, never even a broken bone.

      Thanks again for your support and for whatever insight you can provide!


    • Posted

      My pain doesn't go away with pain killers either the only thing that works is deep heat topical cream as it distracts my brain from feeling the ache ,anxiety can cause fleetING chest pains that get worse when your stressed if you are not having pain on exercise it is definitely not cardiac and sounds to me like it's more when your brain has nothing to do it thinks weres that pain so one will arrive the brain is a powerful thing a seconds thought can produce a symptom I was told this regarding heart palpitations I was having if you had any problems with your lungs symptoms wud be worse also on exercise when they'd be working harder
    • Posted

      Thanks Dawn, I agree with you that it's not very likely to be a lung or heart thing- I haven't had any sort of cough and my blood pressure/heart right have been perfectly healthy.

      The thing that confuses me is that if its not one of those things and it is anxiety, why don't I ever feel anxious or anything outside of this discomfort? Also why does the position of my head seem to make it worse?

      I'd love if it were something as simple as a nerve, but can that last for a year? How can I get that diagnosed?

      Thank you so much for your input, talking about it really helps

    • Posted

      Hi Taylor

      Got to admit, I am at a loss.

      Is it nerve pain !!!!????       god only knows.

      I have heard that "anti-anxiety pills" in smaller dosage is  quite a good painkiller for some people,glad it seem's to be working for you.

      All I can say is, hopefully you will find out one day what as been causing this. Personally, I would ask for a scan to be done, or a second opinion.

      It is not fun living with pain, espescially when you have no idea what is causing it.

      Best wishes to you my friend and if you ever find out, let me know.

      Kev  (UK)  redface

  • Posted

    Hi again: Have you considered going to ER when pain in severe chest pain? That is all you say, when checked in. I think that, your answering all their questions, honestly, would render you an expedient response. They will, likely, hook you up to an EKG and just tell them! This has been going on ("BUT TONIGHTS PAIN WORSE, IT SCARED YOU, HENCE ER" ) Explain you have only had Xrays, you have repeatedly asked Primary Care Dr.a  for chest CT and she continues to denied it. I'm really worried, can I get one here? Remember, that is how I, finally, got my Sinus CT, at the ER, and it was a good thing I went!!. Before I, 1st wrote to you, I'd  had my face to face, useless, appointment with DR. Realized I needed another approach & sent her, my Dr. a very professional, SINCERE, direct request. I implored her to understand this is a real cancer scare, for me, I've been sick for months so I'm rundown and not knowing is pushing me to the edge. Voila! 2 days later....Chest CT changed from routine to STAT, So, instead of 2/10, I'm having a chest CT, with contrast, on Tuesday night. Maybe, that approach might work? Do Not make my mistake when, in person, she was so inappropriate. Since I have smoked and my sister and mother both died of lung cancer, I was scared and got angry (for good reason but not wise)  "every person I know who has had cancer, ended up with it because their Dr. responded just like you are! Saying it is nothing!!!"    I was p*ssed, let her know, excused self, hastily, with the parting comment of, Now you are just condescending me so I'm leaving. She was, totally, condescending me but my approach....it got me nowhere.  In fact! Later, My friend said that, when talking to your Dr. expressing symptoms, concerns, whatever, and they are dismissive, condescending, mimimizing....Brilliant Idea!!! She said she just asks the Dr. "Is everything OK?" or Are You OK? THAT gets their attention and "OD COURSE WHY DO YOU ASK? Simple, honest, polite reply "oh, because you just seem distracted or a little upset (whatever applies) so I was just showing my concern" Plop, the issue is back in their lap, where it belongs. Wish I'd have had that little bit of ammo in my pocket B4 appointment. So, just suggesting, keep pushing, advocating, voicing your concern for your health, to your GP or at ER??? You will get the Chest CT, like I did. The 2nd opinion is also key. Just call your insurancr and they will refer you, provide a couple of options, where to go for a 2nd opinion. After my CT, I will, likely do that.

     PTTP!!! Power To The Patient!!!! And I've got nobody else advocating for me, like my mom, sister and dad did so......yes, I will remain, politely assertive :-) BTW, getting that appointment pushed up, 10 days early, released, 98% of my fears. I feel, mentally and physically, so much better. And, I feel proud of myself. 


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