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ask: My Brother Is Having Random Chest Pains

By Anonymous
 
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Hi-

My 20 year old brother doesn't want to see a doctor yet, but as his older sister I want to advocate for his health.

Randomly, when he is sitting down relaxing he has experienced chest pain on his left side near his heart that's lasting 5 to 10 seconds. This has happened three times in the last week.

He stays very active and works out constantly, never experiencing the pain then. He also says the pain worsens if he laughs when it is occurring. He is not experiencing any additionally symptoms.

He returns home this week and says he will make an appointment with the doctor to get his physical. However, I was wondering what this might be and if you could suggests any specific questions he might ask when he goes.

I also told him to get an ekg that is usually done during physicals by his doctor when he goes.

Thanks!

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am 56 years old and for the most part in excellent physical health. I bicycle over 50 miles per week with ease. I usually carry a backpack for groceries, etc.
Last fall after rotator cuff injury to my right shoulder I began shifting my backpack only to the left shoulder. I then began developing pains in the upper left chest very similar to your brother's scenario.
I went to the hospital for xrays, ultrasound and MRI. The doctors found everything to be normal. I do not have high blood pressure. The conclusion was that my backpack was the culprit. However I was concerned especially because I was a light smoker for over 20 years and partied a lot for as long.
After switching to a smaller, lighter backpack the pains dissipated. A few days ago I carried a very heavy load in the backpack and now the pain has returned. I worry that I might have a thoracic aneurysm--but wouldn't the tests have found that?
This pain actually feels more like a pinch or something stuck inside my upper left chest cavity just underneath my left breast--it comes and goes, especially when I am seated at rest. It doesn't seem to bother me when physically exerting myself peddling hard uphill on the bike. Oddly it does seem to be more noticeable when I am startled or very worried as if it is exacerbated by stress. Just a pulled chest muscle? I have no trouble breathing. No coughing. No trouble swallowing. Everything else seems normal but this pinched knot-stuck-in my-chest feeling.
I guess I should just wait a few days to see what happens before going through all these tests again or should I have an angiogram or any other tests that I've not already described having?

August 15, 2014 - 7:34am
Maryann Gromisch RN Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for reaching out to us with your health concern.
Chest pain can be alarming and it is better not to ignore it.

I do not think you have a thoracic aneurysm.

A thoracic aortic aneurysm may also be called thoracic aneurysm is a weakened area in the upper part of the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that feeds blood to the body.

Thoracic aortic aneurysms often grow slowly and usually without symptoms, making them difficult to detect. As a thoracic aortic aneurysm grows, noticeable symptoms can include:

tenderness or pain in the chest
back pain
hoarseness
cough
shortness of breath

Thoracic aneurysm are often detected on a chest x-ray.

It might be a muscle strain from carrying a very heavy load in your pack. You wait a day and see if the pain subsides. But, should it persist and you have growing concern, give your physician a call.

Regards,
Maryann

August 15, 2014 - 9:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

THANK YOU for your reply MaryAnn,
I stopped using the backpack for several days and the pain has completely disappeared. I keep hearing more reports of heavy backpacks causing pain, and other "problems"; especially for youngsters.

The only symptom that I had in common with the aneurysm symptoms was tenderness in the chest. Yes, it was probably a pulled muscle or tendon in the chest since xrays, MRI and ultrasound found nothing the last time I had the pain: several months ago when I had after switched the heavy backpack to only the left shoulder for several days due to rotator cuff injury to the right shoulder. Back then the doctors suspected the backpack and then, also the pain went away after refrain from using backpack.

What a great feeling it was to ride off from the cardiology clinic on a bicycle!

I read somewhere that one should always wear one's backpack with straps over both shoulders--not just on one; and this makes perfect sense: balance.

I guess I was just really worried that after 25 years of partying I had done some major damage--maybe there's a little guilt element--like "getting what I deserve" :-) . I have quit the drinking, smoking, etc. and I am very grateful there's seems to be no permanent damage from the long term abuse--fingers are crossed--and the routine bicycling on average 10 miles a day as well as carefully watching what I eat no doubt has a very positive influence on my body.

KINDEST WISHES--peter--yes--a man--a gay man!

August 22, 2014 - 10:11am
seekfind

I had that same pain you describe your brother having. For me it was to the left side of my heart/chest (but then switched to right and back to left). It would jolt, a pain completley out of the blue. Does the location ever change for your brother?

For me, it was my first symptom of Lyme Disease. But I also had an achy (edge of my) rib cage and also a swollen/tender sternum. Found out years later it was from swollen lymph nodes, due to the Lyme bacteria.

April 11, 2009 - 2:28pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Michelle-

He does carry a backpack to class and I will mention to him that this could be a reason for his pain. However, I know he doesn't have any heavy text books to lug around.

Either way, thank you for the additional suggestion and I will make sure he is on top of going to the doctor and let you know the results.

Thank you all for your support and suggestions!

April 9, 2009 - 9:18am
Michelle King Robson Expert HERWriter

Hello Anonymous,

I think it is great that you are advocating for your baby brother. He is very fortunate to have you in his life, even though he might not realize it yet. I agree with the other replies that this could be nothing at all, or it might end up to be something that needs medical attention. Either way, it's important that he see a doctor to get the necessary tests done to find out what's going on.

Does he by chance carry a heavy backpack, like maybe in college or something? A friend of mine did that when she was a teenager and she ended up with really sharp chest pains that would come and go and she could not take a full deep breath at times. Turns out it was the backpack.

Please keep us posted on how your brother is doing and what the doctor finds out. And again, big hugs to you for being a great older sister! Michelle

April 7, 2009 - 11:45pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

So far, he has only felt these pains when sitting around doing nothing. Saturday night he was playing video games when it happened and last night we were watching the NCAA basketball championship when it happened.

I think he would have kept ignoring it had I not been with him last night.

Thanks for your suggestions! I will make sure he is on top of making his physical appointment and have him bring it up then.

April 7, 2009 - 5:35pm
alysiak

I certainly hope your brother gets in to see his doctor soon. He could have a serious heart condition, or as Anon suggested, acid reflux or indigestion. Even acid reflux, however, can have some serious consequences.

Have you noticed if he feels these pains after eating or activity?

Please also feel free to ask our Expert panel your question.

April 7, 2009 - 5:19pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

That's what I asked too, but he said it seemed to high and too far to the left. But maybe.

Thanks for the suggestion!

April 7, 2009 - 5:13pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Has he ever had problems with acid reflux or indigestion? That could be an issue -- it can contribute to chest pain.

April 7, 2009 - 4:31pm
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