Hi everyone and thanks in advance for reading and responding. I am looking for ideas or similar experiences, which could help me figure out what exactly is wrong with me and what to do about it.
I am 37 years old and have had problems with pain on the left side of my body for the last two years. Used to smoke occasionally and when I had one single cigarette puff some two years ago, I instantly felt a piercing pain on the upper left side of my chest - just below the collar-bone, where a rib connects to the sternum. I did not give it any meaning, however it happened again in a week or so and this time the pain remained and lasted for about three days. This was then a common occurrence, which obviously made me quit smoking completely. I was worried that it was a lung issue, however all my lung tests (including multiple CTs and even a bronchoscopy, which was a terrible experience) have come back as clear and the doctors agreed that I do not have a lung problem.
The problem is, the pain started coming back even after I quit smoking, more frequently and lasted longer every time it appeared. Over the last two years, the pain has also spread first under my left arm and subsequently into the left side of my neck (first top of my neck below the jaw, now also root of my neck) and is now almost constantly present with quite serious flare-ups pretty much one if every two weeks.
As some of my blood test were initially not good to go along with this pain, I underwent a huge amount of medical exams to eliminate serious conditions, such as numerous CT scans, MRIs, X-Rays, even a PET scan and bronchoscopy, gastroscopy - and they all came back as pretty much clear, with the only exception, when one of the CT scans showed cartilage damage in my left collarbone-sternum joint.
Then, a year ago I was finally diagnosed with a number of infections, including borrelia, chlamydia, & ehrlichia. Been taking anti-biotic (and other) medication for a year now, symptoms have not improved, the pain has even spread and is more present than ever. On the other side, the medication seems to be dealing with the infections, as their bacteria levels have significantly dropped during the last year and seem to be on their way out of my body.
My doctor says that my pain has been caused by one or more of the infections that I have, however he does not seem to be too preoccupied with treating the symptoms and is instead focusing on getting rid of the infections, which should then subsequently, with time, get rid of the pain, too. While I do understand that logic, it has been a year since treatment has started already and the pain is not subsiding at all, on the contrary.
The only thing that I have noticed that eases my pain, when it really flares up, is physical activity, sports, specifically basketball and football, which I try to play regularly. On the other hand, stress and fatigue make it worse for sure.
While it seems to me that this might be costochondritis or fybromialgia, caused by an infection, I am just guessing and am not able to figure out what precisely is the cause of my long-term pain and thus have no real idea about how to deal with it and look for ways to get rid of it both in the short and long-term.
It goes without saying that this has really had a crippling effect on my everyday life, where I am not able to enjoy spending time with my family, work properly, or just enjoy the simple things in life, as all my recent memories are connected to the severity of pain that I have had at that particular moment.
Any comments or ideas would be greatly appreciated and please accept my apologies for the long post.