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What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

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Old 03-14-2008, 10:12 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2008
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dano33 HB User
What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

Hoping someone can give me some help/good advice. Long story but I'll try to keep it short as possible.

I am 46, male, about 10 KG overweight and a smoker.

For many years I have had stomach problems...mostly acid indigestion and heartburn. About 10 years ago I had the full gamut of tests (barium Xray for ulcer, colonoscopy, gastrocopy, heart stress test, etc.). All came back negative and I rec'd a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Life went on. I self medicated with antacids and from time to time got a RX for drugs like Ranitidine, Pantoloc etc and they always helped.

However, about 3 months ago the problem got worse. On Dec 24 I had moderate-severe pain in the upper left centre of my stomach (just below the breastbone) with the pain @ times spreading around to the back. I started thinking heart and that likely worsened the problem as I then began to be in a bit of panic and started sweating, feeling faint etc. Bottom line is I went to the hospital and then checked me out quite extensively for heart problems (blood tests, xrays, EKGs etc.). They told me the problem was not heart but something digestive.

Since that time I had had pain in this area virtually every day. Often it is very mild and more of a nuisance than pain but its still there.

Basicially as I said the pain generally begins just at the bottom of the rib cage/breastbone in the centre and left of centre. At times it follows along the rib cage leftward extending toward the back. Often I feel it right through in the back as well. It can be quite severe (about 7/10) at times and other times is quite mild. The more severe episodes last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

Also at times I feel a bit of numbness around my left ear/face area. On occasion this has spread down to my jaw. And also on occasion I can feel this in my left upper arm near the shoulder. And sometimes my fingers feel numb as well. These other sensations (other than the stomach/chest pain) generally only happen when the stomach/chest pain begins to get quite severe (ie when the chest pain is mild I dont get the other symptoms).

I have seen my family dr about 6-8 times in the last 3 months and have tried various medications (Ranitidine, Pantoloc, Nexium). None have seemed to really help. He has referred me to a GI doctor for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy as well as an ultrasound stomach/abdominal exam. I am still waiting to have these tests done. He does not feel it is a heart issue and feels it is something in the GI area. Today he surprised me a bit by saying he doesnt think any of the GI tests will show anything and he suspects it may be Costochondritis (relatively harmless chest pain NOT related to cario diseases). Still he says I should have all the tests just in case.

I should add that I have been to emergency 3 times in the last 3 months due to times when the pain got quite severe and would not go away. All 3 times they tested me extensively and assured me it is NOT a cario issue (at least they dont think so). They keep saying GI but cant name specifically what it is. Again, I am waiting for all these tests.

I should also add my family DR gave me blood tests for an ulcer and pancreas problems but both were negative.

Also, I have diarehha on a regular basis. Not pure liquid but loose bowel movements and never bloody. Also I am never constipated.

I know also that stress is a factor. I say this because recently I was on a holiday and while I still had the problem it was a lot less severe.

But basically for the last 3 months I have been in pain every day. Most times mild but I can never tell when its going to hit me hard nor how long it will last. It can happen any time of the day or night although its a little more frequent at night.

Another thing I've noticed is I often have pain/discomfort after eating (1/2 hour to hour later). And if I ever lie down after eating it can get real bad. While lying down I often have "spasms" or "twiches" in the upper abdominal area.

It seems I dont have an ulcer, nor a pancreatic problem. And I guess I wont know what it is until I get all these tests. All kinds of things have went through my mind: gall bladder, cancer, gastritis, reflux disease, GERD etc etc. But again I dont know and dont know where to turn. I am hoping one of these tests will lead to a diagnosis but am not sure.

Meanwhile I am looking for some type of relief as I am having trouble coping and getting through day to day life and activities. Is there anything I can/should do while I am waiting for these tests. Does anyone have a definitive idea of what this could be?

Greatly appreciate any help!

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Old 03-15-2008, 05:36 AM   #2
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tattoogirl HB User
Re: What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

This totally sounds like your gallbladder. I had sludge build up in my gallbladder that eventually led to pancreatitis. You can also have stones too. I had a few small ones. It hurts worse when you eat because your food needs to be broken down by bile which is in your gallbladder and pancreas. It causes the pain EXACTLY where you described. Blood tests often don't show any signs even when they do an ultrasound to check for issues it might not show. Until I had my ERCP they didn't realize the problem.

Drinking, smoking, spicy foods and especially fatty foods exacerbates this condition. It is a terribly painful condition. I had to be on narcotic pain meds. I would go to the ER when it is bad and get the full battery of tests which they will do. It is a pain (no pun intended) to get to different specialists on the outside etc. They have to run all the tests before they discharge you and they have all the specialists in a hospital. they can then refer you to an outside doctor for follow-up.

Given you age too, it is very important to address this to make sure it isn't anything more serious and before it causes anything more serious. Do not stop getting help until this is resolved. good luck!


Old 03-15-2008, 07:10 AM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: United States
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missmary88 HB User
Re: What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

i had the same pains, for about six months until a doctor took me seriously, my problem was my gallbladder was emptying very slowly causing me extreme pain. then, after i found out that my gallbladder was the problem, i had to wait a month to see a surgeon, and then another two months for surgery. the only thing i could do to control the pain was to eat a VERY low fat diet, and if you are having gallbladder pains, you know how bad those attacks are, the low fat diet is EXTREMELY helpful, it does not cure it, but it sure does spread out those attacks.

best wishes

Old 03-15-2008, 01:41 PM   #4
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Re: What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

I am going thru the same thing right now, will see the doctor in a few days. I too suspect it to be my gallbladder or IBS. Has been a pain for 3 months. Feels like spasms take place off and on that cause me to see stars for a few seconds. The outright pain/spasm does not last but a few seconds but the continuous hurting is always there, worse some times than other.

I have had a very large gallstone for many years.

Only thing it is on the right side and a little on the left side too. For a while I thought it was a muscle slightly to the right and at the lower rib. Misery has finally settled to the right and a little below the rib, less misery still on the left.

Shall see what the doc has to say about my problem.

Old 03-16-2008, 01:41 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Canada
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dano33 HB User
Re: What is this??? Undiagnosed "upper left quadrant" pain

Thank you for your replies. I have gained some helpful information and insight. The common theme seems to be gallbladder and that is what one of the nurses told me she suspected it was. Right now it will be a huge relief just to know what it is. Its awful waiting and not knowing. I will soon (hopefully) be getting a scope and an ultrasound and hopefully at that point the diagnosis can be confirmed and treatment started.

Thanks again and I'll let you know how it goes.

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