Possible Causes Of Pain Between The Shoulder Blades
Pain between the shoulder blades can develop from a problem with any body parts located between the shoulder blades, such as:
- The skin between the shoulder blades
- Muscles like the rhomboids, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius, which all help keep your shoulder blades back and down
- Part of the heart
- A portion of the lungs
You might also have referred pain. When this happens, nerves send signals that cause pain near the shoulder blades, even though the original source of the pain is somewhere else.
If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional
That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.
If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:
- Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
- Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty swallowing
With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.
When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?
Sometimes a person can’t tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.
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Can Exercise Be A Cause Of Heartburn
Exercise can trigger heartburn. Sometimes thatâs due to increased pressure on the abdomen, which can increase the risk of acid reflux. In one study looking at different types of exercise, weightlifters had the most heartburn and acid reflux. Runners had milder symptoms and less reflux than weightlifters. Cyclists had the least reflux.
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Dietary And Lifestyle Changes
It is helpful for some individuals who have constant heartburn to avoid certain foods that may trigger their symptoms.
Foods that are associated with heartburn include:
- Fried and fatty foods
- Foods high in citric acids, such as oranges or lemons
It may be helpful to eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than infrequent large meals.
If you suffer from acid reflux, it may be helpful to elevate your upper body at night while sleeping.
Can Acid Reflux Cause Nerve Pain
Acid reflux symptoms can be typical or atypical in nature. Tingling limbs and nerve pain are considered rare and atypical acid reflux symptoms.
Dr. Mark Babyatsky, a former department chairman at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, explained that inflammation from acid reflux can reach the lungs and trigger pneumonia.
As a result, the diaphragm can become inflamed, affecting the phrenic nerve, which is a nerve connecting the neck, lung, heart, and diaphragm. In this scenario, a patient can feel referred pain in the limbs, specifically the arms and shoulders.
Alternatively, nerve-related issues may be caused by pre-existing neuropathic conditions, leading to acid reflux. An example of this is gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a form of diabetic peripheral neuropathy characterized by slow digestion. This leads to bloating, heartburn, and vomiting of undigested food.
If youre experiencing acid reflux symptoms with nerve pain, theres a high chance that your nerve pain is not reflux-related, especially if you are experiencing temporary reflux. Get in touch with a medical professional to find a separate diagnosis concerning your nerve pain.
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How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn
Products like Pepcid AC® are called histamine H2 blockers, or acid blockers. Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. Always follow the directions on the packaging or talk to your healthcare provider about how to take this medication. Acid blockers you can buy without a prescription include:
Take your acid blocker medicine regularly for as long as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you do not have any pain or if your symptoms get better.
Stronger acid blockers are prescription medications. These can be used to block stomach acid, treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid. Your healthcare provider will give you a specific prescription for this type of acid blocker.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently reported elevated levels of a possible carcinogen, NDMA, in the drugs ranitidine and nizatidine . You should speak to your healthcare provider if you are taking one these medications.
Control Your Acid Reflux
If you have frequent acid reflux, that means you have acid reflux disease . The vast majority of patients with acid reflux disease respond well to daily acid suppressing medications, such as proton pump inhibitors.
Its important to note, however, that while these medications effectively manage symptoms, they are not a cure. The heartburn pain will go away, but the backsplash of damaging fluid still occurs.
Thats because proton pump inhibitors cant fix the underlying mechanical problem the dysfunction of the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors can also cause significant side effects, and you must consider the lifetime cost of taking these medications.
For these reasons, surgery may be necessary to correct the valve mechanism, with the goal of eliminating the need for reflux medication. Advances in technology have improved doctors ability to tailor procedures to each individual patient, with greatly improved outcomes.
These techniques are performed through small or even no incisions, and serve to restore the valve mechanism between the esophagus and stomach to prevent acid reflux, explains Justin Karush, DO, a thoracic surgeon at Rush. Common procedures for GERD include laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, transoral incisionless fundoplication and magnetic sphincter augmentation .
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How Can I Prevent Heartburn
There are many steps you can take to help prevent heartburn:
- Avoid foods or drinks that may trigger your symptoms, such as acidic foods, high fat foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, mint, and carbonated drinks.
- Wait at least 3 hours after eating to lie down.
- Place blocks or books under your bed to elevate the head of your bed. This can help prevent stomach acid from traveling back up your esophagus.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes, which can put pressure on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than two or three large ones to help ease the impact on your digestive system.
- Chew sugarless gum after eating. A found chewing gum can increase saliva production, helping to neutralize stomach acid and push acid back into the stomach.
- If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit.
- Maintain a moderate weight.
How Is Heartburn Diagnosed
Often all that a health-care professional requires is a thorough history and physical to make the preliminary diagnosis of heartburn. To evaluate if there is any damage and how severe your heartburn is, the doctor my suggest some of the following tests:
- Endoscopy: A flexible scope is passed down the esophagus to examine the esophagus as well as the stomach. Biopsies can be taken if indicated. This lets the doctor see if there is any obvious damage, and also eliminate other reasons for the patients symptoms .
- Upper GI series : After drinking a liquid that coats the inside of the digestive tract, X-rays are taken. These X-rays will show the outline of the digestive system.
- Ambulatory pH testing: This test measures the acidity in the esophagus via a small tube that goes through the nose into the stomach.
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What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn
- Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
- Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
- Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
- If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
Antacids For Neutralizing Stomach Acid
When it comes to heartburn, medicines such as antacids are available over the counter and can be quite effective. These medicines work by simply neutralizing stomach acid. There can be a bit of a double-edged sword in this case though.
If youre suffering from regular heartburn and you rely on antacids to relieve the pain, youre not dealing with the underlying problem and damage may still be occurring to your esophagus .
To avoid developing more serious GERD-related problems, you should seek medical help to get treatment for the actual causes of the problem.
What Are My Options If These Treatments Don’t Work
If a person continues to have heartburn, a health care professional may recommend adding a drug such as metoclopramide . This drug empties food and acid quickly from the stomach so less can back up into the esophagus. Reglan also helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter.
If a person still have symptoms, a health care professional will then recommend one of the drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Examples of these drugs are omeprazole , lansoprazole , esomeprazole , rabeprazole , and pantoprazole . These tablets prevent the stomach from secreting acid. They are very effective and are typically taken only once a day. These drugs usually are prescribed if other drugs have not helped. They may have to be used indefinitely.
Can Acid Reflux Cause Dizziness
Dizziness and acid reflux are rarely associated with each other. However, personal accounts show that acid reflux, specifically GERD can also lead to dizziness in patients. This dizziness is often characterized as lightheadedness, weakness, and a temporarily blurry vision.
Dizziness and Acid Reflux: Is There a Link?
While dizziness is not often listed as a common symptom of acid reflux, a study suggests that there is a link between peripheral vertigo and acid reflux.
Scientists suggest that patients who experience dizziness alongside their acid reflux may be due to gastric acids irritating the ear, which could lead to ear infections.
The study reported that 77.6% of patients with peripheral vertigo were also diagnosed with acid reflux compared to 26% of patients without reflux symptoms.
Although further studies are required to finalize the findings, the researchers suggest that reflux contents such as Hydrochloric acid and pepsin could get into the middle ear through the Eustachian tube and affect the ear directly. This can cause tinnitus or a perceived ringing of the ears.
Another way acid reflux could cause dizziness is through bacterial infection. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori can travel further up the esophagus through reflux contents and reach the upper respiratory tract. This could cause scarred ear drum , leading to dizziness.
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How Is Heartburn & Reflux Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you to describe your reflux symptoms and the length of time you have had them and review the need for prescribing you acid-suppressant medication. Should you require such medication long term or the treatment is not working, your GP is likely to request a gastroscopy. This will ensure there are no underlying problems with your oesophagus or stomach. Up to half of all patients with symptoms that suggest they have reflux turn out to have only mild inflammation or an oesophagus that looks quite normal.
Gastroscopy: This involves passing a thin, flexible tube through the mouth and down into your oesophagus, stomach and start of small intestine9. The endoscopist will be looking for signs of inflammation. It is usually carried out as an outpatient and takes less than 15 minutes. You can choose to have a local anaesthetic throat spray and/or sedative. The endoscopist can guide you in this decision. The procedure is not painful, but it may be uncomfortable at times.
Barium Meal: An alternative to a gastroscopy is a Barium Meal10. This involves drinking some barium liquid which will show up your oesophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine on x-ray. It gives less information than a gastroscopy but is good at showing whether you have a hiatus hernia or whether your oesophagus is narrowed for any reason.
Gastroesophageal Reflux And Heartburn
Several endoscopic techniques are alternatives to surgical fundoplication for patients whose reflux is not satisfactorily managed by medical therapy.8 These include methods that provide thermal energy to the lower esophageal sphincter and others that serve to tighten the gastroesophageal valve area.
Heartburn in immunocompromised patients often indicates an esophageal infection with an opportunistic organism, such asCandida albicans, cytomegalovirus, or herpesvirus. Because most patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and esophagitis have candidiasis, an empirical course of antifungal therapy may be justified. Patients who do not respond to this approach, however, should almost always have endoscopy and biopsy so that more specific therapy can be instituted.
Richard E. Sampliner MD, in, 2010
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You Have Pain After Eating
Pain that sets in right after a mealespecially a big mealoften means the stomach is overloaded and its contents have nowhere to go but up. Luckily, theres a quick fix: I would stress not eating big, fatty meals and watching , says Dr. Coyle, who is a spokesman for the American College of Gastroenterology.
Even If Medication Relieves Your Heartburn You Should Still Get Evaluated By A Gastroenterologist
Once you have reflux, it tends to be chronic, or repeated throughout your lifetime. There are several medications available for relieving mild, moderate, and severe heartburn, but these dont necessarily fix the problem. Tums, for example, help to eliminate discomfort caused by GERD by making the acid less irritating. Similarly, Pepcid AC decreases the amount of acid your stomach makes which means theres less acid to splash up. Many people think that if their symptoms are gone, then the reflux is too. While both of these medications may effectively help to manage symptoms, neither of them address the root cause.
Acid reflux, or #GERD, can lead to esophageal cancer, left untreated. On the #MedStarHealthBlog, our GI experts explain how you can treat it and minimize your cancer risk: https://bit.ly/3ybdjot.
Thats why its important to let your doctor know about any frequent or recurring signs of GERD, even if your symptoms are managed. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist who can perform diagnostic tests and procedures to evaluate the severity of your condition and regularly monitor any changes to your esophagus.
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Proton Pump Inhibitors And H2 Blockers For Reducing Acid Production
Two types of medication that your doctor may prescribe to you are proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.
Both of these can be highly effective at reducing acid production in the stomach. Both are also available in over-the-counter forms, although these arent as strong as the prescription versions.
How Is Heartburn Treated
In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.
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What Does Noncardiac Chest Pain Feel Like
Noncardiac chest pain is often described as feeling like angina, the chest pain caused by heart disease. It feels like a painful squeezing or tightness in your chest, or like pressure or heaviness, particularly behind your sternum. You may feel it on the right side or the left side or in the middle. Sometimes the pain radiates to your neck, left arm or back. You may notice that it occurs after eating, or that it is accompanied by heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest. It can last for a few minutes or a few hours.
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Are There Any Tests For Heartburn
If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.
If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.
There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:
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