Pain in left side of chest, neck, & under arm - need help

Posted , 7 users are following.

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.

Many thanks!

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  • Posted

    It is my opinion one thing has not been considered at all. I'm wondering if this is not referred pain. So I'm thinking this is a muscular issue not anything to do with your lungs or your infection. This would explain why taking a hit off of cigarette could set it off in the early days. Taking a deep drag from a cigarette could be the cause of the pain because of the muscles you use when you take that hit. Believe it or not I've run into one person that got relief from working out for his lower back pain. So I can believe that you would find relief through physical activity. Maybe your doctor could do a short term muscle relaxer and see if that helped. Also as trite as it might seem you might try a few sessions with a masseuse. This would help ease and relax the muscles. And finally you might try using a hot pad on the area to try to soothe the muscles when the pain is happening.

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    • Posted

      Thank a lot, amkoffee. I have on occasions felt as if my entire chest muscle on the left side is having some small spasms and twitches, so it might indeed be related to muscles.

      Forgot to mention that when I really have a flare-up, then another symptom is that when I drink something very cold, I get a stabbing short pain in that left chest spot (same as it did with the smoking) every time I swallow the cold liquid.

      I have also had a serious reflux issue in the last few years (food comes back up for a short time after some meals), so not sure if that also might have something to do with it.

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    • Posted

      The regurgitation happens to me too. Its really disgusting don't you think? Its been going on for about 15 years. I sought help from a GI doctor that was just blowing all my money on tests so I stopped seeing him and went to another GI doctor. He told me that there wasn't really anything that could be done about it. If it is really, really bad then they can correct it with surgery but I wasn't that bad he said. I have also had GERDS for many year and so I've been taking proton pump inhibitors. It doesn't help the regurgitation but it helps with the other problems. Recently I've been diagnosed with gastritis too.

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  • Posted

    Hi d3do

    You mentioned you had blood tests but did not say what blood tests you had. Did you have an ESR blood test and CRP blood test for inflammation?....

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    • Posted

      Hi lilian05079!

      Yes, I have been having the ESR blood test quite regularly in the last two years and my sedimentation was quite high to start with, but has significantly dropped and is now on the upper border of the norm (slight rise at the last test again) - could this be due to my infections and its improvement due to the antibiotics?

      I have also had CRP regularly and there are signs of inflammation, however that has also been decreasing significantly over time since I started treatment and is now at the upper border of acceptable norm.

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  • Posted

    Hi d3do your post is exactly to a tee what I have been experiencing and also diagnosed with chlamydia after multiple urine tests and blood tests. But my doctor seems to think it's all in my head and that it must be anxiety causing my chest and neck pain. but I know it is not and won't take me seriously. Can you please tell me what steps you took and what kind of infections you came to learn you had so I can recovery from this pain we both suffer from? I also have blood pressure wooshing in my ears when I become idle/resting. Did you experience this as well? I'd really appreciate your reply and help me get back to enjoying life again! Email is

    Moderator comment: I have removed the email address as we do not publish these in the forums. If users wish to exchange contact details please use the Private Message service.

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  • Posted

    Have you been tested for vitamin D and B12 deficiency? Just curious.
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  • Posted

    Hi I have been suffering for about 2 and a half weeks now it all started when I was sleeping and suddenly I woke up and had a sharp stabbing pain in my chest it lasted for about the three minutes then stopped and then it kept coming back throughout the day but my breathing was fine.

    I am a 15 year old and now going to 11th grade I get very stressed out and feel as I have some anxiety, I do online school and have a computer to work on so I am not very active and I am overweight as well so I'd say it was on may 26 when I woke up to this stabbing pain and the next day I had pressure in my chest and my mother took me to the e.r where they did a chest x-ray and and ekg they said my heart looked fine and sounded fine my BP was 160/73, pulse was 108, and breathing was fine then they sent me home.

    I still had pressure on the left side of my chest and this might sound weird but on this side it typically feels like if I was on an empty stomach and it typically feels like bubbling or gas feeling on this side of my chest, and also before I would go the e.r again the next day which would be June 4th I had this strange itchy sensation inside the left part of my chest along with the pressure so that day June 4th I went in and told them wat was going on and I had another ekg which they said was good and also a chest x Ray and the doctor had the radiologist check and he said there was a something red there I don't really know, oh I forgot to mention we got to the e.r at 12 a.m and left at 7a.m which was crazy so then when we're about to go the doctor prescribed hydrocortisone cream which wouldn't help because it's an inside feeling, this time my blood pressure was 145/82, pulse was 86 and oxygen still seemed fine.

    The next day June 5th, 2018 I go to see my family doctor when I explain all of this to her she says it was most likely gerd reflux and I don't know if that's the case I mean I do burp occasionally but my throat didn't have an acid feeling in it and I have had acid reflux before that was when I had an acid taste, but I do usually have gas and I also now have a lot of nausea now, then she sent me and my mom home and the next day she called and said she would like and x Ray for herself so the itching sensation kind of stopped and my chest still felt like there was pressure in there still so Wednesday and Thursday I woke up to feeling sick but never throwing up still having a bubbling sensation in my chest here and there, and I have also had a loss of appetite and have been just drinking water not real wanting to eat, and sorry for making this so long but I really want to figure out what is going on but also 2 years ago when I had came back from universal studios and had just got back home I had taken a ibuprofen for some reason can't remember and then feeling like it was stuck on the left side of my throat the doctors at the e.r said the pill was probably stuck but it it would have dissolved by then and just made my throat irritated ever since then I've had this lump sensation inside of my throat and if I try to cough it still feels like it is there idk if the feeling is there still because of stress or wat.

    Back to the main problem so Friday I went in to get another x ray of the chest and the nurse said my doctor will call me Monday with results but i keep searching up things on Google that might be wrong with me and I feel depressed throughout the day not really wanting to do anything but sleep and hope that it is just gerd, but later that Friday I had a tense feeling in my left hand I and a tingling feeling in my left foot and sometimes the tenseness in my hand would barely go up the arm.

    Now today my chest feels heavy and my throat feels like hot air is coming through which can be felt in the left part of chest too and there is also this popping bubble feeling on the left side of my chest too and I am so worried that I might be dying and I might be under stress too because I don't want to leave my family I love them too much sorry for making this really long and can somebody please help me with these problems😣

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  • Posted

    Have you had your heart checked? Pain in left chest area, left arm and even neck can be caused by problems with your heart.
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