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Pain in the upper chest, difficulty in bowel movement. Pulled chest muscle?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2011
Answered : 5120 Questions
Hi I am a 50 year old woman in good over all health I recently strained very hard while having a bowel movement, while i was straining I had very sharp needle like pain in my upper chest into my shoulders , scared the crap out of me , now every time I have a bowel movement and push even a little bit i get this pain. I am scared i had a heart attack or something, or could I have pulled my chest muscles? The pain subsides after a while but any kind of straining it is there. Any kind of information would help. Thanks
Posted Thu, 26 Apr 2012 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Aashish Raghu 19 minutes later

Thanks for the query.

You have provided with good information, but I would like to know some more things to guide you better.

1. Does the pain increase on touching the chest in that region?

2. Do you have any shortness of breath, palpitations, giddiness or fainting attacks?

3. Do you have any swelling of feet?

4. Do you have any cardiac risk factors like someone in your family having heart disease, stroke?

According to your history, it is possible that due to high abdominal pressure while straining there could have been chest muscle spasm as well. This can also cause pain. But such severe pain definitely needs evaluation.

Usually angina or chest pain due to imminent heart attack is crushing type in the centre of the chest. It can get relieved on it's own sometimes but will pose risk to development of heart attack.

Usually, if the pain can be somewhat reproduced by touching or pressing on that region of the chest, it could be chest muscle strain in most cases. In such situations, you can apply pain relieving ointment like Diclofenac gel to relieve the pain.

But, given your age and also the fact that excess strain can induce angina which is chest pain due to less blood supply to heart, it is best to get evaluated for your heart as well.

I would suggest you consult your Family Physician and get a thorough evaluation and also necessary tests like Electrocardiogram (ECG) and other required tests to confirm if any such heart problem.

Avoid fatty, spicy, oily and junk food. This causes constipation and decreased bowel movement. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and XXXXXXX leafy vegetables everyday to provide essential nutrients and also add bulk to stool and prevent constipation and hard stools. Drink enough of water. Do daily brisk walking for 40 minutes a day which also helps in healthy nervous system and bowels, if there is no cardiac ailment.

If you have severe constipation, you can take Ispaghula husk, 2 tablespoons with a glass of water once a day for proper bowel movement. If there is any blood in stool, black stools, do consult your doctor immediately.

I hope I have answered your query. I will be available to answer your follow up queries, if any.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in the upper chest, difficulty in bowel movement. Pulled chest muscle? 54 minutes later
Hi it does feel sore a little when i touch the area but not to much, no shortness of breath, no palpitations, no swelling of feet, dad had minor heart attack at 65 mother in good health, I have good blood pressure 100/68 my chest does feel sore for quite a bit after so if it was angina would my chest feel sore after? thanks again
Answered by Dr. Aashish Raghu 19 minutes later

Thanks for writing again.

Usually angina is not related to pain which aggravates on touching the chest. But since your father did have a heart attack, you may want to be on the safer side and get a thorough evaluation.

You can apply pain killer ointment like Diclofenac gel over that area twice a day for relief.

You may give rest to that side of the chest, avoid lifting heavy weights, or moving that side arm much.

Your blood pressure appears normal. Do eat healthy and exercise regularly.

Avoid constipation by having healthy food as mentioned in previous reply.

Wishing you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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