Knot and tightness in stomach

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I'm at a loss. I have spent thousands in tests and don't have a clue what's next. I know I can't afford more tests because we have no insurance and are already in medical debt from the last "episode".

9 months ago I started having a knotted feeling in my stomach. It was not a pain as much as an uneasy feeling. I felt hungry, but when I ate it didn't settle that feeling, and honestly eating made me feel like I would be sick if I ate. I never threw up during the whole time. Though I have never felt like I dealt with heartburn, I thought maybe the hunger feeling was from acid in my stomach, so I began taking Prilosec. Several days passed and nothing was better so I went to the ER where they ran a CT (normal), abdominal X-ray (normal), an abdominal ultrasound of gall bladder and pancreas (normal), and bloodwork with a full digestive panel (normal). Frustrated, and increasing with anxiety over what was going on and when it would end if I couldn't determine the cause, I saw a GI specialist. She prescribed a different ppi with a higher dose and performed an endoscopy a few days later (we were about 2 weeks in at this point) endoscopy was perfectly normal and biopsies came back normal as well. I was relieved but so incredibly frustrated that no answers were found either. My husband was convinced this was anxiety and was beyond frustrated with the mounting medical bills when all the tests were coming back normal. I agreed I probably was way too stressed, noticing I wasn't breathing fully and was constantly tensed in my diaphragm with that breathing, and should be feeling relieved, but still felt bad. I continued in the meds and planned to follow up with the GI after a couple weeks to discuss next steps. Then, almost 3 weeks in, the symptoms disappeared as quickly as they came, almost overnight. I stopped the ppis assuming maybe this was all anxiety related, and promised to be more careful in managing my stress so this wouldn't happen again. I was fine for all this time and about a week ago...BAM, same symptoms and back on the PPIs and no relief. I know I had been incredibly stressed the day before it all happened, but didn't think it was abnormal stress or response.

I began on an anti depressant for anxiety 3 days ago in case that's what's truly causing all of this, but I'm incredibly frustrated to have no clue what's going on for sure.

Does any of this sound familiar to any of you? Anything else you would suggest? Is this truly just anxiety related? I keep trying to relax my stomach muscles and it feels relieved when I have a big sigh where the breath is full, but it goes right back to the tightness and knot blocking feeling. I also have IBS with constipation but it's always a lower gut issue rather than this upper abdominal tightness.

I know I am a very anxious person which is why I chose to go on some meds, but I haven't experienced such nagging physical symptoms with anxiety before this year so week long panic attack type symptoms aren't familiar and makes me think this is more than anxiety.

Thanks for taking the time. I promise to update because so often we don't see resolution because nobody comes back to update...which is discouraging when we are reading.

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Lindsley, have you tried cbt or mindfulness, I'm trying that next.

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    • Posted

      Hi Sam, no I haven't. Seeing a counselor coats $100 a visit around here and again, no insurance. I do want to see if there are any YouTube type cbt sessions that would be helpful. Regardless if this is truly physical or all due to anxiety, I need the anxiety under control!

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  • Posted

    Sounds like you have been having an IBS flare up due to stress since all your tests have been normal. Health anxiety and upper GI problems such as indigestion and acid reflux are common with IBS. If you have had panic attacks, this can cause breathing problems.  Anxiety can  have a profound effect on your physical health and is strongly linked to IBS.  

    I had six months of stress in 2015 which led to stress related IBS the following year.  All my normal test results made me panic more. Perhaps try distraction techniques such as gentle exercise like walking or swimming and concentrate on your hobbies.  You will find this will take your mind off ypur stomach.  Deep breathing helps with stress.

    I also have chronic acid reflux which started with exam stress as a student.

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    • Posted

      Thank you. I know anxiety is a huge issue for me and I have had so many "symptoms" that I freak out about that always wind up being nothing. And the fact that I have had this same stuff before and it went away after a few weeks should bring me peace knowing it will pass again. Just feels like my food just sits. But I think anxiety will probably slow down or speed up dramatically in times of stress. I have tried to distract myself a LOT, but it's always in the back of my mind. Again, just started buspar for the anxiety 3 days ago because I'm sick of being "sick" with anxiety. Some get pains, some get headaches, mine is stomach.

      I appreciate hearing other stories of people who had issues the same as I am because of anxiety. Not that I'm glad it happened to them, but it does give me reassurance that if I get anxiety under control, I will begin to feel better

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    • Posted

      I have Asperger syndrome (High functioning autism) as well which contributes a lot to anxiety.  With time I have developed a lot of work arounds to counter stress before it triggers my IBS.
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