Pain comes and goes on left side of the chest; with some numbness on the left arm.

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Submitted by Dr T on February 14, 2013 – 4:48pm

Question: 
My name is Sara and I am 54 years old. I smoke a pack of cigarettes a month. Lately on my left side of my arm,I have experienced numbness and pain in my chest.I thought that I was having a heart attack. So I went to my family doctor. She examined me with her stethoscope, and said that my heart is fine.My blood pressure was a bit high due to the anxiety of not knowing where the pain was coming from. The doctor prescribed me a muscle pain reliever and had me get some x-rays done on my chest.The x-rays came back showing arthritis on my left arm.All she recommended was physical therapy. Do you think that it’s arthritis or something else and does cigarette smoking contribute to the pain? What do you recommend for arthritis?

Hi Sara,
I don’t know what causes these pains. However, the location and description of your symptoms is unlikely to associated with coronary artery disease (CAD).
What I DO know is that you are at risk for heart disease (as well as other illnesses) because of your smoking and high blood pressure, as well as other possible factors you haven’t told to me. I have performed coronary artery bypass surgery on many a patient who had previously been assured by their doctor that CAD was not a concern!
In your case, the examination and tests that were done would not have confirmed or denied CAD. This requires an evaluation of your risks, and probably a echocardiogram for starters.
RE: “Do you think that it’s arthritis or something else and does cigarette smoking contribute to the pain? What do you recommend for arthritis?”, smoking causes many other illnesses including lung cancer (probably excluded by the chest X ray) that can those type of pains. Sorry, but I don’t treat arthritis.
Hope this helps,
Dr T

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