Pain between shoulder blades/arms

Hey All,
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and taking the time to help others, I truly appreciate your kindness.
I am a 42 yr old female
I have severe (charley horse,stabbing, pulsating) pain between my shoulder blades( mostly R sided). I have experienced the pain briefly and did not pay any attention to it, until the other day. I started having the pain at aprx. 7:30 am I had it for 12 hrs straight, all I could do was lie on my left side and not move. I slept for most of the day. I woke at 2 am with the pain lasting only aprx 10 minutes.
I again got the pain a few days later at 9 am and it lasted for aprx. 20 - 30 mins.
I have been also having severe pain in my arms (feels like a blood pressure cuff is to tight) from the top of my shoulders inside my arms radiating into my hands and sometimes fingers. My arms feel very weak and sometimes the pain causes me to hunch over pulling my shoulders forward.
I have no chest pain.
My doctor is aware of my symptoms and told me to go to the ER if it happens again.
My dear friend continues to try and convince me that it is heart related, I just can't seem to wrap my brain around that idea.
Are my symptoms typical of heart related issues?
Thank you for any and all thoughts , I am grateful to all of you for your time.
Oh , I forgot my HDL is 34 if that means anything???

Edited June 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

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Go to the ER and find out what it is. We are not docs and it could be heart related or something else.

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I am sure you are not asking for a medical consult cause you said you have already been to your doctor.
There are many things than can cause your symptoms, heart disease, blockages, gallbladder disease, ulcers, etc.
The first think you should do is demand that your doc take your symptoms seriously. If he doesn't, then find another one. At minimum maybe you should demand a stress test , and then ultrasound of your gall bladder.

Women don't necessary have to have chest pain for it to be heart related. In fact I was reading that 50% of women dont have 'typical' heart attack symptoms (of course typical heart attacks symptoms means the symptoms that men have).

Look there is still so much ignorance in the medical profession when it comes to women and heart disease. There are still cardiologists running around saying premenopausal women don't have heart attacks cause estrogen protects them.

If you go to the ER all they are going to do is do an EKG and cardiac enzymes. If they are negative, they will send you home. The ER is only good if you are actively infarcting, which you want to prevent. Of course if the pain is not relenting, you should go to the ER. You need diagnostic test to be done.


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Thank you Bre - I was asking if my symptoms were like others.
My gall bladder is fine - I jus had an ultrasound and CT scan done because I have kidney disease.
I see my nephrologist regularly and he told me to contact my GP cause my symptoms were not kidney related.
I will ask my GP for a stress test when I see him next week.
Thank you for taking the time to reply - I appreciate it.

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If gallblabber is fine, you definitely need a cardiac workup.
It is really a shame that some women have to 'beg' for these tests to be done.
Good, ask your GP for a stress test to get started, and dont let him convince you that you are too young,
etc for heart disease. Also don't let him start that GERD crap. It might be GERD but it can also be your heart.


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Please read my profile bio... I went through gallbladder, GI, cardiac, TMJ, neck, back, shoulder, cardiac (3x total) before I found out I have 4 separate issues that contribute to my pain: TMJ, cervical ribs (thoracic outlet syndrome), degenerative disc and shoulders and finally, endothelial dysfunction/mvd. (the GI was an unrelated issue, but was the primary diagnosis because docs didn't figure me out till I found the right docs) You *can* have multiple issues or just one that is hard to find...and you end up in "silos" of medical care.

You must be an informed patient because if it's not in that specialist's area, you often are told "it's nothing". For me, when I add up the issues, it forms together into a generic issue: PAIN.

One not fool around re: cardiac. There is a reason they call it coronory. Because with the "crown" organ, the body ceases to exist.

All the best, Mary

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Okay, let me see if I can clarify my pre-post. I am NOT looking for heart disease nor do I believe anything is wrong with my heart.
I have 2 serious kidney diseases and that is enough for me to deal with.
My question was - did/does anyone have these symptoms and are they typical of HA?
My friend who has had several HA and has heart disease is adamantly trying to convince me that the pain is due to my heart, because she experienced the same type symptoms before she had a HA.
I became alarmed by her telling me this and she is insisting I see a cardio doc. I however; am not even remotely convinced I have heart problems. She asked me what my levels are and my HDL is 34 and LDL is 130 , I weight 102 lbs. She told me that my numbers are high risk.
I do not like having this over my head and simply wanted to know if others had severe pain between shoulder blades and it was heart related.

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Matchgame, you certainly have enough to deal with given the kidney disease. Since your looking for experience of others I can tell you I experienced severe pain between my shoulder blades prior to a HA that has left my heart muscle severly damaged. Regretably I didn't think it was serious enough to check it out and neither did the GP I finally saw when things got worse. In the midst of MI when I told my new hero and cardiologist that the GP had just done an EKG the day before (which was sent to the hospital along with me) and said it was fine, he explained that the test may have looked normal to an untrained eye yet the test showed clear problems. Hopefully it is not your heart, but I believe you have received wise advice to have a workup by a good cardiologist. As your MD said go to the ER if it happens again.

Be well. Tarri

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Thank you Tarri for your reply and answering my specific question. I am glad you are okay and hope you are doing well.
If it is not to much trouble and when you have the time, could you please elaborate on the pain you had between your shoulder blades?
What type of pain?(what did it feel like?)
Both shoulder blades?
Did you have arm pain/weakness?
How often did you have the pain?
How long after the pain did you have a HA?
How long did the pain last?
Did you have chest pain prior to HA?
I have pain the inner part of both arms/weakness and the most horrific type pain between my shoulder blades (mainly R side) which happened twice. I have 2 kidney diseases, and have dealt with severe pain from many things in my life, I gotta say this pain takes the cake, it's the most severe and oddest type pain I have ever experienced.
Thank you so much - hope you have a warm and peaceful day.

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I experienced 3 heart attacks last year and while I had severe chest pain with them I also had severe arm pain all the way to my fingers (along with weakness) and pain in between my shoulder blades. You do not need to have chest pain to have a heart attack.
How many days ago did you have these "episodes"? If they were heart related and you did have a heart attack then it could still show up in your blood or an EKG. I would most certainly get these symptoms checked out. The heart is nothing to fool around with.

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Thank you hearthbarj for your reply and taking the time to help me. I am so very happy you made it through and hope you are doing well.
My first episode was on the 11 th - 2nd episode on the 13th. The pain/weakness in arms for about 2 weeks or so. I jus have it in my mind that the pain/weakness in my arms and the pain in my shoulder blades did not happen simultaneously.
I am going to the doc Thursday and will ask him to do a test jus for the sake of doing it.
So very nice that all of you can come here for support and help one another through the devastation and trauma, I hope all of you are doing well.

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Hi matchgame: I agree with everyone that you need to push for a cardiovascular workup. I have prinzmetals angina which is angina which strikes usually when my body is at rest and not after exercise. It started with severe chest pain which went down my arm, along my jaw and sometimes my neck. I thought it was acid reflux for over a year. sometimes I would get a stabbing pain in between my shoulder blades instead of the chest and arm pain. I was finally diagnosed after it caused cardiac arrest but was very fortunate I had no heart damage and my heart leveled out on its own and I woke up. My arteries are clear and my chlosteral is good. A lot of people with this form of angina have suffered heart attacks and actually having a ca was somewhat rare. I now have an icd incase of a repeat. I am on several medicines which seem to have brought the angina under control. Occasionally I do get the stabbing pain in the back between the shoulder blades. I usually take a nitro if it last any length of time and it seems to help it go away. You might ask your doctor for some nitro which you could take when it happens. If it goes away, there is a good liklihood it is something with your heart at least from what my cardiologists say. Prinzmetals is an unstable form of angina which can lead to heart attack and ca if untreated. It is often hard to diagnose as the spasms generally don't show up on a stress test. Mine was diagnosed when I got to ermergency and my heart beat was wacky. They did an angiogram and then a catheterization. That caused the coronary artery to go into spasm and they could actually see it spasming. I understand that wearing a holster monitor for a while might be able to provide some diagnosis. Good luck and please don't just wait it out. I did but was very lucky so I don't suggest waiting but finding a doctor/cardio who will actually listen to you.

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Matchgame, just caught your posted questions. My HA was in 2004 so trying to pin down when it all started is a little hard now. I know I was having the bouts of stabbing pain between my shoulders for awhile before I had the event that sent me to the ER. I would always attribute them to something else, such as muscle tension after a particularly stressful event at work, or being out of shape after some strenuous activity. I do recall a couple of weeks prior I was helping my sis move from her 2nd story apartment. While carrying boxes down the stairs the pain did migrate down my arms and I became short of breath. A couple of weeks later I was mowing the lawn when the pain started in the center of my back again between the shoulder blades, but again it progressed around to my chest feeling like someone was squeezing, and was so sharp I couldn't catch my breath. It proceeded down my arms into my jaw and in my stomach. at that point I wondered if I was having a HA. I went to an Immediate Care Center and by that time the intensity had let up. I jokingly told the GP I thought I was having a heart attack. She did an EKG, said it was fine diagnosed Acid reflux and bronchial inflammation. Sent me home with reflux meds and a decongestant. To work I went the next morning again telling my coworkers about my scare and that I had to get in shape and stop smoking.

That night or just after midnight I woke up with the pain between the shoulders again but this time it was also intensely in the chest etc. like the day before. Couldn't sleep but waited until 7:00 am and returned to the Immediate Care thinking I might have pneumonia or even a collapsed lung. By the time I walked to the desk my lips were blue. New Doc immediately gave me nitro aspirin and oxygen and had the nurse call an ambulance while he hooked me to an EKG. He told the nurse to hurry I was having a heart attack.

So that said I was having signs of heart trouble for months with that nagging pain between my shoulder blades that would come and go being the first telltale sign.

I still have angina and it still usually starts between my shoulder blades. Now I know to stop what I am doing and sit. This usually works but often I have to resort to nitro to control it and recently spent 4 days in the hospital with a nitro drip to get it under control.

I hope from this you take away that the signs are not always the same or the same intensity even in one person so why chance it?

Best wishes Tarri

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Wow! You ladies are amazing and I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for all of your responses!
I am overwhelmed with joy that all of you survived such a trauma and are warriors, true inspirations to all women!
HarleyTripper: It seems to me that if there were anything going on heart related with me that it would seem more like what you have spoken about.
I had jus woken up the 1st time it happened and the 2nd time I was up for 45mins or so and was getting in the car to go get the newspaper, I hadn't done anything both times,not even eaten breakfast yet, jus smoked my usual morning cigs.
Thank you so much Tarri for posting your experience. Again it appears to be some type of angina if it is even heart related with me. My biological mother has agina and she had a HA in her 40's, my bio family on both sides have heart disease , jus about the entire family on both sides - including many who have passed away at fairly young ages due to heart disease.
I will ask my doc tomorrow for a work up even jus for the sake of having it.
Thanks so much for the wisdom and understanding all of you have shown.

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