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Christine Jeffries

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ask: i can no longer lay down on my stomach with my arms up without discomfort. is this muscular or heart related?

By Anonymous
 
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i used to be able to lay on my stomach with my arms up and under my pillow. they one day, i felt like i had a sharp pain in my heart. it makes me feel panicked and scared, and i hate it. now im ever-weary of my heart and try to eat as healthily as possible, but i cant lay that way when i go to sleep. i also have to lie on my right side rather than my left, but what's odd is that in the morning, i can roll over and im fine, its only when i go to bed that i feel it. my mom took me to the doctor when i told her about this, and the doctor poked my chest a bunch, asked me if it hurt, and when i said yes (because he was jabbing his fingers into my breast), he said it was muscular. he told me to put muscle rub on it, and that stopped the random pains during the days (it had started happening randomly during the day, causing me to tell my mother), but i am still to this day afraid to lay down. occasionally i test it to see if the odd sensation is gone, but i still feel it. could it really just be a damaged muscle? or is it my heart? and if it is just a muscle, does this mean that the remaining pain is just in my head? Another strange symptom was that this pain would only last for the time i was lying down, but when i sat up, it went away. i slept many a night sitting up in the corner of my bed, quite upset over the mysterious symptoms. i looked them up, and web MD told me that my symptoms matched pericarditis. im no doctor, so i am unsure what to think. all i can hope is that someone else understands my situation and can help me. I know some symptoms only apply to certain people due to their weight, age, or gender, so to be clear, i was 15 when this started and it i am not 16, i am overweight, but not obese, and i am female. please help me, i dont want my fear of dying young to become a reality, but knowing would help me cope, and possibly seek help sooner. thank you so very much.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have experianced the same pain in my chest. I also agree with the statements about WebMD. This should be used as a tool to assit in obtaining information. All to often WebMD succeeds in scaring people to the medical extreme.......

December 9, 2011 - 10:14am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have this same problem, I can't lie on my stomach for more than a few minutes before I get a increasingly throbbing and sharp pain in my chest. (Putting pressure on my chest by lying on it flat). Even if i am only like that for a few minutes, I can't just roll over onto my back. I have to sit up but that doesn't really help much either. I am slightly short of breath (but also am asthmatic) during this. The pain is really quite sharp and the worst of it sticks around for about 15 minutes. It takes an hour to totally ebb away. For the next 24 hours or so a have a really rapid heartbeat and it makes me feel exerted and sick. I am only just fifteen years old. It is extremely painful and I have no idea what it is. Is it a heart problem? The area is not sore to touch.

September 8, 2011 - 2:01am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I aslo forgot to mention that my arms (mainly my left) and my neck become sore with this pain.

September 8, 2011 - 2:03am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thanks for your post!

At the age of 15, this would not be consider normal, especially when the pain takes some time to go away and you're not over the entire incident for a good 24 hours.

It may be heart, or muscle related but you should get an appointment to see a doctor as your strong reaction to having your arms over your body like would not be considered normal.

Please keep us updated,
~Susan

September 8, 2011 - 11:05am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you so much for your comment! I really do feel better now, as i realized that alot of the things you said about it being heart disease or a heart problem do not relate to me. I have never felt any sort of squeezing in the center of my chest or anything like that. And you are right about hearing things on television. As it should happen, i do watch alot of Discovery health channel, and do listen extremely carefully to things concerning the heart because i am often worried about my body and what could be wrong. But thankfully, it sounds like i dont have anything too serious, and i think that normal physicals might catch something like high blood pressure or a heart murmur of some kind. I will try to think more positively, and it could possibly be a panic attack, because i do at times start to breath a little more heavily when i think about it, and my heart rate does increase. well thanks for your help!

February 1, 2009 - 4:04pm
Alison Beaver

Hi anon,

I agree with Susan C: WebMD is too broad to provide much useful information! The Mayo Clinic is a more credible source of information, and has an entire site devoted to chest pain: both cardiac-related and non-cardiac related.

1) Are you experiencing any of the other symptoms of heart disease?
This includes (but is not limited to): "...classic feeling of an elephant sitting on their chest but it is also possible that their symptoms can be more vague. Less dramatic symptoms, which most women don’t associate with heart disease, include neck, nausea, vomiting or pain in the jaw or shoulders." (Accessed at: EmpowHer article).

It did not sound like you have any of these symptoms, from your description.

2) Information from the from Mayo Clinic:
"Pain in your chest can be severe. It can be difficult to interpret. The cause of the pain could be something as simple as heartburn or as serious as a heart attack."

To me, this means that you can stop the self-doubt, wondering if your parents will be irritated...and know that (even) adults have difficulty distinguishing exactly what "chest pain" is that they are experiencing. It does not mean you are a hypochondriac. If you are not receiving the respect from your doctor that you deserve, are you able to find another physician that you do like and trust? You can ask your friends if they like their doctor, to start.

3) "Fortunately, chest pain doesn't always signal a heart attack. Often chest pain is unrelated to any heart problem."
"But even if the chest pain you experience has nothing to do with your cardiovascular system, the problem may still be important."

4) Some of your choice of words made me think instantly of a panic attack. Have you experienced anything like anxiety before?
Your words including, "feel panicked and scared", "irrational fear", "hypochondria", "fear of dying young", "sharp pain in my heart" are what led me to this question.

Here is information about panic attacks:
Panic attack. If you experience periods of intense fear accompanied by chest pain, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), profuse sweating and shortness of breath, you may be experiencing a panic attack — a form of anxiety.

However, you do not have any other symptoms of a panic attack (rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, etc). Everyone experiences some anxiety, and it is perfectly normal on an occasional basis.

5) It also sounds like you may have strained a chest muscle Your mention of moving furniture, and no other symptoms of heart disease except pain in the muscle. How long has the pain occurred? Has it become more or less severe over time?

6) How would you know if it's your heart?
It can be difficult or even impossible to tell what's causing chest pain. Be on the lookout for these heart-related warning signs:
* Sudden pressure, tightening, squeezing or crushing pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes
* Pain spreading to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders or arms — especially the left arm
* Chest discomfort accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea
* Pressure or tightness in the chest during physical activity or when you're under emotional stress

Read more about this at Mayo Clinic site.

Please know that with all of the health information out there, online and TV, it is overwhelming and we all can feel a sense of "doom & gloom". I know if I see a few particular ads on TV on heart disease awareness or stroke prevention, that just the mere mention of symptoms makes me do a quick "body scan". Have you ever heard someone on TV ask if they have a shortness of breath, and then all the sudden you become more aware of your breathing?

Lastly, just because you are young does not mean that your symptoms are not real. Just keep writing them down, and it is important that if you have any changes in symptoms...or if your chest pain worsens...that you tell your parents or go to the doctor/ER.

You are doing an excellent job in gathering information, and please remember that people can have chest pain without it being a cardiac event (heart-related).

February 1, 2009 - 10:58am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Dear Anon

Thanks so much for writing to us and I'm so sorry you are thinking that this may be so serious that it could cause you to die young. No-one your age should have to deal with these thoughts!

A word of caution regarding WebMD. It is a wonderful website but I have typed in various flu symptoms before and it resulted in being advised to go to the ER! This happens to a lot of people. One minute you're typing in body parts and pain symptoms and the next minute you read something that makes you think you have about an hour to live! I have read that my symptoms could mean I have anything from many different kinds of cancers to having AIDS, being pregnant or that I have a cold! The symptoms checker is very broad. Please use WebMD as a valuable tool and reference but never substitute it, or any website, including this one, for real professional medical care.

Now to your symptoms and other issues.

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the membrane sac that surrounds your heart. The main symptom is chest pain that is sometimes very sharp, and sometimes dull. A low grade fever and shortness of breath while lying down are other signs. It's very, very unusual for a 15 or 16 year old girl to have pericarditis.

Your doctor may be right - that this is indeed muscular. The heart is also a muscle, but I mean it may be your chest or upper abdominal muscles. The pain can be quite severe and long-lasting.

The chest contains a lot! It houses your heart, lungs, tendons, ribs, muscles, and nerves. The problem could also lie in your stomach or esophagus. What is your diet like? Do you ever need to take antacids? Do you suffer indigestion?

If you exercise, you may have strained your chest and are experiencing muscle pain and muscle spasms that can be quite painful and scary. Even bad posture can be at fault. Do you tend to slouch? How new and good is your bed? Do you use weights?

And lastly - there is always a possibility, even a rare one, that you may have a problem with your heart. Occasionally, young people have heart problems. Just remember that it's far less likely than the chance that you are experiencing muscle strain, especially when you move or change position and the pain goes away and muscle rub is taking the pain away during the day. That's a good sign!

You can always request an EKG (electrocardiogram) that will monitor the electrical activity of your heart and is used as a tool to check for heart disease.

You shouldn't be living with this kind of fear. And the less you know, the more you will start thinking that something is very wrong, even if your chest pain is a muscle strain. Just because you are young, doesn't mean that you should be patted on the head and told to run along. You have the right to get a second opinion (something I recommend!) and to have more tests.

Did your doctor recommend any exercises for you? Did he tell you when you should expect this muscle strain to stop?

I know I have probably asked more questions than answered but if you can answer a few of them, it would really help us. You are 16 and should be enjoying your teen years, not worrying about heart disease. We'd love for you to get the answers you need so you can stop this stress - stress can make the pain seem worse than it actually is. Worry and stress can cause physical pain.

Please update us!

January 31, 2009 - 3:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

Thank you for answering my questions. I do feel a little better, but i still worry. To answer your questions:
My diet is generally healthy, although i do have times where i snack a little too much,
I dont take antacids,
I dont suffer indigestion,
I do slouch in chairs and at school but usually stand straight, and now that you mention it, the pain does seem to occur after i have been slouching and stretch, which is why i try to avoid stretching my chest too much,
I just recently got a new bed, but when i began experiencing the pain, my bed was about ten years old and had both foam and memory material stacked on top of it for improved comfort (i dont know if it is worth mentioning, but it was also about a weelk after my little sister moved out of my room and into a different one and i had rearranged my furniture, but it had been a few days and i thought muscular pain occurred within a day or two),
I dont use weights,
My doctor never recommended any exercises for me to do,
and,
He did not tell me when to expect an end to the pain.

Thank you so much for your recommendations, and i do hope to rid myself of this pain. I also wish to be a mother some day, and though i know it is an irrational fear, if there is something wrong with my heart, i do not want to be told that i will never have children because of a heart condition that could kill me during birth or possibly harm my child. If possible, do you know if there is any way to find out if i have something wrong with me without having an EKG or going to the doctor? personally, i am not a fan of my doctor (its nothing personal, just another irrational fear =P), and i dont want to ask my parents to take me because, though we are a close family, i doubt they would consent to bringing me to the doctor over a fear of a most likely nonexistant problem. They tend to think that i am a hypochondriac, and i have started to believe it. But then i lie down and keep thinking, "just feel, dont assume," but i know that if this were all in my head, i would be able to sleep in the position i once found most comfortable. But i thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your help, and i hope to be able to either get passed my hypochondria or relieved from my chest pain. I hope my answers helped you too! :)

January 31, 2009 - 8:37pm
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