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Have a pain on the side of my torso/chest

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Old 06-16-2012, 09:59 PM   #1
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Have a pain on the side of my torso/chest

I've been having this pain for about a week. It's located on the side of my chest - Not in the front, but on the side, 4-5 inches down from my armpits. It feels like a dull pain, and is off and on. The dull pain feels like it sometimes encompasses the entire left side of my torso (again, nothing in the front of chest, just side). During the pain, my breathing and pulse both seem normal.

On a related note, I had some scares as far as chest pain about 3-4 weeks ago. I could tell that it was definitely not heartburn, but I didn't go to the hospital because I didn't have any of the related symptoms (i.e. Nausea, arm/jaw pain) that go along with heart problems. I'm not sure, but I believe that it was about 1-2 weeks, and I was slightly relieved when I found that pressing the center of my chest provoked the pain, so I figured it was skeletal, and could definitively rule out anything heart-related.

Because I have chronic sinus/nasal and GERD problems, my family pretty much just tells me the same thing every time, saying that it will get better, and that I'm just thinking about it too much (i.e. "cry wolf"). Would appreciate if anyone ever had this...Again, the pain is very specific: it's on the left side of my chest, 4-5 inches below my armpit.

Last edited by Leo255; 06-16-2012 at 10:03 PM.

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Old 06-17-2012, 12:02 AM   #2
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Re: Have a pain on the side of my torso/chest

Pain in this area is most often, but not limited to, one of a few specific etiologies. Intercostal musculoskeletal pain can manifest in the torso, but is usually superficial and more anterior (towards the front) - often times exacerbated on palpation. I have experienced this before, no sweat. Then there is pulmonary/respiratory pain that could present anywhere near the lungs in the thoracic cavity. This can often be a sign of possible pulmonary embolism (PE), especially if it is exacerbated by breathing in to fill the lungs to maximum capacity (although this symptom is not present in a large % of cases). I have also had a suspected PE which I had a V/Q (ventilation/perfusion) scan to rule out. Thirdly is the obvious cardiac/vascular pain. There is no "magic set" of symptoms that can rule out a cardiac pathology other than professional medical evaluation. When I was 18 I had potentially serious cardiac arrhythmia which resulted in a crushing painful sensation in my left side. The only way my physician was able to rule out MI (myocardial infarction) was by examining my 12 lead EKG which was done immediately and confirmed with negative cardiac enzyme panels. This is just to provide examples of not uncommon reasons for pain in the thoracic cavity. One thing that should be mentioned is the phenomenon of referred pain. This is a condition where pain that results from one area of the body is experienced in another due to the innervation of the torso. For instance, I could have appendicitis, but experience the pain in my right shoulder rather than my abdomen. This is just a hypothetical of course, but the Vagus nerve innervates and spans the entire chest and abdominal cavity, and sometimes the "wires get crossed" so to speak, and the interpretation of the painful stimuli by the brain makes us experience the pain in a location other than directly where it is actually occurring.

All this is to say that chest cavity and chest wall pains should never be dismissed offhandedly. Only a physician can rule out a more serious condition like MI, PE, or any number of other pathologies. PE can sometimes be heard on auscultation with stethoscope as aberrant lung sounds, and EKGs are cheap and quick - most PCPs can do them in the office. Better to get checked and catch anything serious before it becomes to late than end up in the ER with a blown lung or cardiac infarct.
"'I'm not feeling very well, I need a doctor immediately!' 'Ring the nearest golf course'"
- Groucho Marx

Last edited by Recombinant; 06-17-2012 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Correction of language regarding etiology

Old 06-17-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
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Re: Have a pain on the side of my torso/chest

Since you say the pain is a dull pain I've had this and I was told it was my esophogus spasms by my GI he said the sharper pains are the pain from the acid in my throat or hiatal hernia I've been clear for all other things and this has been going on for years for me I have had that dull pain in that spot myself

Old 06-17-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Re: Have a pain on the side of my torso/chest

I'd encourage you to seek medical attention. We aren't medical experts and can't make a diagnosis, nor tell you whether this is something that warrants an emergency visit or just a follow up with your family doctor. Please don't ignore something like this though. Best wishes.
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