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Chest pain at night, soreness, skipping heart beat, headache. History of brachial plexus injury.

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Cardiologist, Interventional
Practicing since : 1996
Answered : 192 Questions
Lately I am feeling painful electrical shock like feeling in the left side of my chest. Sometimes the pain runs through to my left arm. This happens most of the time at night and sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night – gets me scared to sleep. I take an asprin or two then go back to sleep OK. I have once woken up and had the next full day with a sourness feeling in my chest. The pain goes away when I exercise or move around. I have been to the doctor 3 times over this issue – the first time they kept me in the hospital for observation and ran all sorts of test on me and found nothing. The next time I went to a top cardiologist in Houston, XXXXXXX They did the running test, a 24 hour heart monitor and an ultrasound – found nothing wrong. Then two weeks ago I woke up and thought I was having a heart attack. Took some asprin and went to the doctor in Beijing – at that time I had chest sourness but my BP was back to normal. They took my blood, and performed an EMI test but said I seemed perfectly fit.
Today I having these pains again as to where It feels like my heart is skipping a beat or I am being shocked by electricity – what should I do if every time the doctors say I am OK.
For reference, I am 36 years old male – weight is 117 KG (258 Pounds) and have been going through some stress recently – but today have been relaxed.
For reference, sometimes I get these electrical shock feeling headaches as well – where it is a sharp stabbing pain (Sort of like electrical) for only a second or two then goes away.
What is weird, in all cases I feel better when I up walking around or exercising – it mostly only happens when I am relaxing – I have thought about heart burn and have taken some over the counter medicine for this, but that does not seem to help as well.
Further History: I have had at age 17 a spinal injury (what the doctors called a Brachial plexus injury) in the C6 / C7 area leaving my right arm paralyzed to where I cannot fully grab with my hand – all other motions are ok. For 2 years I went through much therapy and many test at the University of XXXXXXX Children’s Hospital (Houston Medical Center) – they could also never find how to solve the problem after doing multiple MRI’s, Cat Scans, UT Test, EMI’s, X-Rays and Myelogram. I also went to a top sports doctor in China recently to see if it could be fixed because it has been near 20 years since it happens and I thought there would be break throughs in technology that could help, but they said there was nothing they could do as well.
I am currently in Beijing – If I go to the doctor and tell them this they will just do same test as before, so please advice what I can do or what test I should have done to try to fix this. It really has me worried because sometime I think it will be the end of me when it happens.
Posted Fri, 20 Apr 2012 in Liver and Gall Bladder
Answered by Dr. Raja Sekhar Varma 16 hours later

Thank you for your query.

From the description of your symptoms and the results of the numerous tests that have been done, it is clear that the cause of your discomfort is NOT cardiac in origin.

It seems to me that the pain you are experiencing might be related to the nerves which supply that region. You could get yourself evaluated by a neurologist and see if there is any neurological cause for this like spondylosis or a disc problem leading to compression of the nerves, or even sometimes, zoster. Instead of doing a further battery of tests, you could also try a therapeutic test with drugs like amitryptiline which may help in reducing your symptoms. However you may need to take the medicine for upto 3-6 months before you get a good response. Your treating physician / neurologist can guide you with the brand and dosage.

Further, I also recommend that you reduce your weight. You need to XXXXXXX an expert dietician and get a suitable tailor-made diet for you to lose weight. You also need to do exercises regularly.

If you have the results of your ECG, echo and stress test, you can upload them to this website so that I can have a look at them. It will help in suggesting specific measures if a cardiac problem is associated with it.

I would also like to know if you feel any tenderness on exerting pressure at any point on the chest during the episode of pain?

I hope this answers your query. Feel free to contact me for any further clarifications.

With regards,
DR RS Varma
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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