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Old 10-17-2010, 07:28 AM   #1
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Exclamation sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

For a few years now, I've been having these unexplained chest pains. These are my symptoms:

1.) sharp/stabbing: It feels like being stabbed by a knife. It takes my breath away, literally. When it happens, I might let out a gasp, or stop talking (for the brief moment that it lasts).
2.) left side: It always occurs on the left side of my chest, directly behind my left breast.
3.) sudden/acute onset: In a split second, it's there. There's no dull ache or anything before hand.
4.) short duration: The pain only lasts for a few seconds, but is severe. Sometimes, I might feel a very dull tightness immediately after (localized to just that small area on the left).
5.) not always just 1: The stabbing can happen just once (usually), or I might have a few of them. If I have more than one, they can be separated by just a few seconds, or even a few hours.
6.) unpredictable: I can't identify anything that triggers them. They can happen any time, any place, with no warning signs. They've happened to me while sleeping, during class, walking down the sidewalk, watching TV, etc. And no, they do not seem to be correlated with physical exertion/exercise or stress.
7.) infrequent: I may go months without experiencing one.

I've been told that it's anxiety, or gas. I disagree strongly with both. I know that I have anxiety. When I am feeling anxious, not only am I able to identify the feeling myself, but I am able to explain to other people how the anxiety manifests itself (how I'm feeling at that particular moment), why I feel that way, and also what I can do that will calm me down. I know what an anxiety/panic attack feels like, and this pain is totally unlike anything anxiety/panic-related that I've ever personally experienced. I am also completely calm before, during, and after the pain. I've actually never experienced this chest pain while I've been aware of feeling anxious. I also know what my symptoms are when I am "gassy." If these pains were caused by gas, wouldn't I eventually have to fart? When I have these pains, I am not bloated, my tummy's not making funny noises, the pain doesn't spread/change location, and I don't have to fart.

I've had 2 EKGs to try to figure out what this is, and they both came back "normal." However, neither of the EKGs were conducted while I was having the chest pain.

Anyone got any ideas?
-Thanks

 
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:01 AM   #2
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

One other thing I should mention. I was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia when I was 12. Since then, I have struggled with varying degrees of relapse, and have also had long periods of recovery. I am now 22. I first noticed these chest pains until around the time I was diagnosed. Within the past 10 years, I've noticed that they do happen more frequently during periods of prolonged caloric restriction (whether that is a full blown relapse, or just a few weeks of normal dieting). However, they also happen when I've been eating normally for months, or even years. For example, I've maintained the same weight of about 145 lbs. for at least 4 years (I'm 5'6"). Even when I've restricted within these past 4 years, I haven't dipped below 138. And within the past 4 months or so, I've actually hovered a little closer to 150 (and haven't restricted/purged/overexercised at all). **And I'm still having these pains occasionally.**
One of the EKGs I had done just so happened to be during a period of restriction (maybe about 2 years ago?). My doctor suggested that maybe it had something to do with an electrolyte imbalance/deficiency, and did blood work. Even though I was restricting at the time, my levels came back normal, as did the EKG.

 
Old 10-17-2010, 08:08 AM   #3
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dan49 HB User
Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Quote:
Originally Posted by laughitoff View Post
For a few years now, I've been having these unexplained chest pains. These are my symptoms:

1.) sharp/stabbing: It feels like being stabbed by a knife. It takes my breath away, literally. When it happens, I might let out a gasp, or stop talking (for the brief moment that it lasts).
2.) left side: It always occurs on the left side of my chest, directly behind my left breast.
3.) sudden/acute onset: In a split second, it's there. There's no dull ache or anything before hand.
4.) short duration: The pain only lasts for a few seconds, but is severe. Sometimes, I might feel a very dull tightness immediately after (localized to just that small area on the left).
5.) not always just 1: The stabbing can happen just once (usually), or I might have a few of them. If I have more than one, they can be separated by just a few seconds, or even a few hours.
6.) unpredictable: I can't identify anything that triggers them. They can happen any time, any place, with no warning signs. They've happened to me while sleeping, during class, walking down the sidewalk, watching TV, etc. And no, they do not seem to be correlated with physical exertion/exercise or stress.
7.) infrequent: I may go months without experiencing one.

I've been told that it's anxiety, or gas. I disagree strongly with both. I know that I have anxiety. When I am feeling anxious, not only am I able to identify the feeling myself, but I am able to explain to other people how the anxiety manifests itself (how I'm feeling at that particular moment), why I feel that way, and also what I can do that will calm me down. I know what an anxiety/panic attack feels like, and this pain is totally unlike anything anxiety/panic-related that I've ever personally experienced. I am also completely calm before, during, and after the pain. I've actually never experienced this chest pain while I've been aware of feeling anxious. I also know what my symptoms are when I am "gassy." If these pains were caused by gas, wouldn't I eventually have to fart? When I have these pains, I am not bloated, my tummy's not making funny noises, the pain doesn't spread/change location, and I don't have to fart.

I've had 2 EKGs to try to figure out what this is, and they both came back "normal." However, neither of the EKGs were conducted while I was having the chest pain.

Anyone got any ideas?
-Thanks
Laughitoff - I don't think it is anything to do with your heart. I have angina and have had blockages, so you should be fine as far as that goes. If was trouble with your heart the pain is not a stabbing pain for the most part.

Anxiety I would not think it is that. Your right panic attacks usually act different.

Some kind of muscle pain poss and you will think I am crazy but maybe some acid reflux. Acid relux does a lot in the chest area.

When I was much younger I got them every once in a while. EKG will not see them unless it was your heart.

Hope this helps some.

 
Old 01-13-2011, 12:07 AM   #4
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I get the exact same thing. I'm a healthy 24 year old and I consistently get a sharp/shooting pain that (feels like) goes directly through my heart. I've had 3 EKG's, an Echocardiogram, 2 Chest X-rays and blood work twice. Everything came back normal. I really can't pin-point it to anything, my doctor really can't tell me anything other than its not cardiac. I still get them though and when I do, of course I think its cardiac.

-Aspirin has helped (maybe halts the inflammation?)
-Xanax has helped (maybe because when I'm on it, I don't care?)
-Marijuana has helped (I only smoke occasionally to help my anxiety and this halted the pains a tad)
-Prilosec and Tums, I really can't tell if they helped or not. Sometimes I think they do, but then other times I don't believe they did.

How are you feeling now? I'm in the hole about 2 grand for all my tests and I still don't know how these pains originated. Such a bummer. Please let me know!

 
Old 04-24-2012, 12:52 PM   #5
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I am 26 and I too have experienced a sharp squeezing/stabbing pain on the left side just behind/under my left breast. They started when I was 15. They are always very intense, usually fleeting, and seem to happen whether I am at rest or walking about. But I never get them when I'm physically exerting myself (running/climbing etc). They happen suddenly and literally take my breath away.

I have no history of anxiety or panic attacks, so those can be ruled out. There is no radiating pain, pressure or numbness in the neck or extremities, so it is not angina or a heart attack.

I had an echo and blood work two years ago when I started having the pains more frequently, but both tests came back normal. Of course, the echo was performed when I wasn't experiencing the pains, so nothing showed up.

I would occasionally get the pains but nothing ever progressed so I did nothing. But recently I experienced this stabbing pain (exacerbated by deep breaths) for 45 minutes which was unprecedented, so I went back to the ER. Had another echo, this time while I was in pain, and chest X ray this time, and again doctors said they looked normal. My blood pressure and cholesterol are perfectly normal. Dr. also ruled out pulmonary embolism. He said hard drug use or smoking could sometimes cause these pains, but I have never touched any drugs or cigarettes in my life. All the doctors say is that the source of the pain is not cardiac and I'm not in danger.

They tend to be rather dismissive. I'm sure doctors are accustomed to seeing a lot worse, but as a patient with unpredictable pain whose causes are unknown, it is very scary to experience.

I will say I tend to experience them more frequently when I have been at my heaviest weight, but I have experienced them with the same intensity at every weight (between 120 to 170).

Some people say it might be acid reflux or gas, but I never experience the "burning sensation" people describe with heartburn, so I don't think it's that. And I doubt it's gas. I have had gas before, and never get these pains when I have gas. And performing "gassy activities" such as burping or farting does not alleviate the pain.

I have not noticed any correlation between my eating habits and these pains. The only other correlation I have noticed is that I seem to get the pains more often when I am sleep deprived, but I have also experienced them first thing in the morning after an otherwise very restful sleep.

My doctor said I should just take advil when I experience the pains. He offered no explanation for why my last episode was so prolonged. Very frustrating indeed. If I continue to experience them I may request an MRI. Not really sure what else they could do to diagnose the pains. I've seen two different doctors and they both came to the same conclusion - it's not cardiac, your vitals are normal, you're not in danger, go in peace.

I think it's possible it may be a pinched nerve, or a rib muscle spasm, maybe due to awkward sleeping positions. But a doctor has never volunteered such a diagnosis.

 
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Old 04-24-2012, 04:54 PM   #6
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I am having exact same problem, exact same pain and exact same feeling in my chest, I also get with the pain, tightness in the chest and sometimes soreness.

I have had blood tests and, ECG and a chest x-ray.

All came back fine. I got referred to a chest specialist which I went to see today. He told me I have nothing to worry about and he seems to think it is muscle related. He also told me to take pain-killers like ibuprofen and alike for a constant 3 weeks to see if I can curve the pain. Maybe you should try the same see how you get on?

I know how you are all feeling its horrible and scary, and very discomforting!!!

 
Old 06-21-2012, 03:49 PM   #7
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I'm 24 and have the same problem. I just dropped to my knees in pain not but 5 minutes ago from it and it does steal your breath, its an awful feeling. My mom recently had a pacemaker put in for heart problems. She told me she had panic attacks and the same pain in her chest when she was my age and said it was gas, but I know what gas around my heart feels like and that is not it. When she had to go to the emergency room for a 210 heartbeats per minute episode, she was told that she had a a problem with a part of her heart over stimulating and increasing her heart rate. I'm thinking my pains may be small, short episodes of over active current in my chest. I'm thinking of having them do the same electric test on my heart to see if beta blockers might help. I hope you find out what causes it for you. Best of luck.

 
Old 07-02-2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hello, everyone.

I'm also experiencing the exact same thing. I am 19 years old, and I first started having these pains just last year.
It's very sudden, and without warning. I can be doing anything, and suddenly, that stabbing pain in my chest, right under the left breast. However, I've felt it in other places, though always on the left side of my chest. Sometimes (though it's more uncommon), it feels like it's right underneath the very bottom of my rib cage, or more above my breast. Again, just sudden pain. I've had it when I'm just walking, or sitting, and once even while I was asleep.
It causes me to gasp a bit, and it's just suddenly hard to breathe because it hurts. Exhaling and inhaling too much hurts, but it only lasts for a brief moment, and then it's gone as though nothing ever happened. There was only one occasion where this pain was there for three days, though very dim compared to the usual intensity.

I have seen two different doctors about this, and I've had four chest x-rays, and two ECG's and bloodwork once, but all of the results come back normal. It's really scary, and I am so very glad to see that I'm not alone.
However, the doctors don't appear to be concerned at all, seeing as how the doctor in Saskatoon was supposed to call me months ago to schedule an Echocardiogram, but he hasn't done so yet. Judging from everyone else's stories, though, it will likely come back as normal.

It's very frustrating to be experiencing this kind of pain so close to the heart, and not have any answers. What is causing it? Is it dangerous? Why am I having these pains? It seems that no one has an answer. My sister suggested that it might be asthma? I did a little research on it, and I'm not really too sure, but the pain seems to be far too short for it to be caused by asthma. What do you all think?

Again, I'm happy to see that I'm not alone with this scary experience. Thank you all for sharing your stories! I hope that we'll find an answer to all of our questions soon!

Last edited by Karli; 07-04-2012 at 02:22 AM. Reason: Added detail

 
Old 08-01-2012, 02:41 AM   #9
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hi Everyone. Thank you for sharing your experiences. They sound like mine, except mine are not severe.

I have been having the same exact experiences as described by the original poster during the last month -same side, same duration.

My blood tests and my blood pressure were normal this year and in general I feel great. It doesn't sound like it's heart related according to another medical website that I found.

My pains are more like a sharp "stickery" sensation under my left breast in my rib area. The pains repeated enough that I didn't know if it was a sign of a heart attack. It happened when I went for a pleasant walk this evening...I wasn't out of breath or anything and now it has stopped again. So maybe it's an "electrical" thing as someone mentioned.

Peace and Health,
Patti

P.S. I just had another 2 pains again as I finished typing. If anyone figures this out please post. Thanks.

 
Old 08-01-2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hi everyone,
I had a triple bypass in 2009 and was given a lot of literature on the heart and how to recognise heart attack symptoms.

Sharp pains are very rarely cardiac related - if you're having sharp pains then it must be something other than your heart.

 
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:32 PM   #11
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hey guys this is funny sort of ?!!! Bcus I was looking up those same type issues I'm having with sudden chest pains .. It's spooky Bcus I just turned 49 but yet still very active .. Those chest pains come our nowhere and it's worrisome like you all are feeling I'm sure .. Of any comes up with some diagnoses it would help me understand and ready myself for any future doctor visit I should explain to... Thanks

 
Old 09-19-2012, 12:30 PM   #12
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I've been having the exact same thing you describe with regularity and frequency for the past three weeks. Now that I think about it, it's been happening to some degree, for the past 30+ years (since I was a kid). I'm so grateful to know there are others and it's not probably not lethal. Thank you for posting this.

 
Old 09-20-2012, 02:46 PM   #13
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Mary2012 HB User
Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hi my dear,
I am having left chest pain to the left side only, too. For me they did few EKGs in the ER at the moment I had the pain and they all came fine. I am also been treated for anxiety and as you said the pain doesn't necessarily come you feel anxious, but anxiety is there and can trigger this pain when you least suspect it.
There are also other heart test that the doctors can do to find out if something is wrong. I am supprized that the doctors have not conducted more detailed medical heart exams.
I would suggest that you request from your doctor to send you to echocardiogram, or other tests so you can have piece of mind that there is nothing wrong. :wave

Last edited by hb-mod; 10-21-2012 at 02:15 PM.

 
Old 10-11-2012, 07:25 PM   #14
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Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

Hi guys, hey I'm having the same exact problem, and I thought I was the only one, I was worried about a heart attack, I'm 33 years old now and I had it since I was 15, I usually have this pain attack every year or probably every six months, and sometimes it just happen day after day and suddenly it just stopped. I'm still wonder what is going on.. if someone manage to have a good doctor result please let us know !! thanks..

 
Old 10-19-2012, 02:30 PM   #15
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Smile Re: sudden, sharp chest pains on left side

I've just had an 'attack' of whats being spoken about on the site. Again left side of chest and just under my breast that also shoots right thru the centre of the breast as well. Like another comment on here, just taking deep breaths hurts while/has it is happening, and i've just realized or at the very least just thought of 'why do i feel like i need to take deep breaths'...is this something thats related to the pain?? Either way its unpleasant, any thoughts/suggestions on a postcard please!

 
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