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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 17351
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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I had another chest charley horse today, this time in the heart

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I had another chest charley horse today, this time in the heart area and unconnected to physical activity. I've had three others in the past 6 weeks: one after lifting a chair at work, one after doing yoga, and another upon waking up. I had an echocardiogram, bloodwork and stress test performed in Sept. 2007 following a series of panic attacks and related chest pains (I've had minor chest pains off and on ever since, in addition to other muscular aches and pains...fibromyalgia, perhaps?), and these tests came back normal. I plan to make an appointment with a cardiologist tomorrow, although I don't have health insurance at the moment. I am concerned because I've never had a charley horse in my chest before 6 weeks ago. I did begin meditating regularly around that time, and wonder if holding my body in an upright position unsupported for 15-20 minutes at a time might be a factor. I'm also in the middle of writing my Ph.D. dissertation, which is an ongoing source of stress in itself.
There are several problems that can cause pain in the chest. A charley horse describes a muscle spasm that occurs in skeletal muscles, but not in cardiac muscles. There are skeletal muscles in the ribcage surrounding the heart and these can have a charley horse. The heart muscle can have pain, but not a charley horse. If the heart muscle does has a prolonged cramp, it will cause a person to pass out because blood is no longer being pumped by the heart. There also can be pain from the lining around the heart if it gets inflamed, but this also is not a charley horse. There also can be a cramping pain in the chest associated with the spasm of the esophagus. Fibromyalgia certainly can cause diffuse muscular pain, some of which follow a particular pattern but can be more diffuse also. Panic attacks and stress can also cause some chest pains that are not due to underlyting cardiac disease, but also increases the risk of developing heart disease, although not typically at your age and gender in the absence of other cardiac risk factors. The only way to determine the precise cause of your pain is to seek medical evaluation.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you so much for educating me with your detailed and focused response. It gives me much peace of mind to be able to rule out cardiovascular problems as the cause of the charley horses.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The off-and-on chest pains since the initial panic attacks in 2007 have tended to occur on the left side in the area near the crook of my arm, so maybe that is a fibromyalgia symptom.
This area is not one of the fibromyalgia diagnostic trigger point locations, but fibromyalgia can cause pain in other areas as well. The other problems that I stated can cause pain in that area, although esophageal pain tends to be more in the center of the chest.