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DrDLove, MD
Category: Cardiology
Satisfied Customers: 18781
Experience:  Cardiology Expert
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My wife woke up with broad pain in a square across her upper

Customer Question

My wife woke up with broad pain in a square across her upper back and pain down the back of both arms. She is 69 and has no history of heart issues, but mild high blood pressure. Should we call 911 or go to an emergency room?
JA: When was last time you had a check up? Is there a history of high blood pressure in your family?
Customer: Yes on the high blood pressure and her father died of a heart attack. Her blood pressure just taken was 176/88. She takes blood pressure medication.
JA: Anything else in your medical history you think the doctor should know?
Customer: She was a patient who had fungal meningitis from a tainted steroid shot in 2012 but has been symptom free since 2014. She has residual kidney disease as a result of the medication used ot treat the fungal meningitis.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cardiology
Expert:  DrDLove replied 1 year ago.

Hello from JustAnswer.

While it is possible that heart pain can be felt in the back, it is more common that pain in the upper back that radiates down the back of both arms is musculoskeletal in nature. If there is tenderness when you press in the area of the pain or if there are certain movements that exacerbate the pain, then it is more likely that this is musculoskeletal, and it would be reasonable to first try to manage this at home, such as by taking acetaminophen to see if it relieves the pain.

It is also possible that acid reflux can cause back pain that can radiate to the arms, and reflux symptoms frequently are worse first thing in the morning. If she is having any associated heartburn, then it would be reasonable to first try some liquid antacids to see if it helps.

If she has no tenderness or heartburn, then would be more of a concern, and it would be appropriate for her to be seen emergently.

If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She has neither tenderness pain or gas and we have decided to call 911.
Expert:  DrDLove replied 1 year ago.

Very good.

Expert:  DrDLove replied 1 year ago.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information.