Left shoulder pain after eating or drinking

Posted by jrofri @jrofri, Dec 5, 2017

Has anyone experienced severe left shoulder pain, down the upper arm, up the neck to the ear, approximately 15 mins after eating. This pain usually lasts for three hours after eating a meal.

@tlowrey

About 5 months back I went in after having my first panic attack ever (shortly after experiencing EXTREME heaviness in my chest every day about a month prior). I went to the ER MANY times after this as I've never experienced anything like it before, and they continued to reassure me countless times after tests, x-ray's, so on and so forth, that there was nothing wrong with my heart or anything else, and so they prescribed me anti-anxiety medication (which I have yet to take because the initial stages of the medicine cause severe anxiety and when I tried it I immediately went back to the ER again). Ever since this occurred I've experienced rather nonsevere arm and shoulder discomfort/pain, chest pain, back pain, and jaw discomfort most days if not every day.

Things have MODERATELY cleared up in the past month or so (still not taking the anti anxiety medication as I feel that's not causing the pain, because the pain will come on even when I'm not thinking about it), only experiencing mainly slight chest and jaw discomfort above all else. But a few days ago after eating a relatively unhealthy meal, my right arm was sent into severe pain unlike anything I've felt before whilst just sitting still. It wasn't accompanied by much other than a faintness in my chest. Since then I've experienced severe pain in my left shoulder, very similar to the pain I had felt in my right arm a couple days before, every time I try to eat the slightest meal or even drink water. I woke up this morning after fasting most of the day before due to this, tried eating some toast, and the pain in my armpit and left shoulder was unlike anything I've felt before.

I reconsidered going back to the hospital to get checked up since I haven't been back in in so many months, but because I haven't been taking my anti anxiety medication, they don't believe anything is wrong with me and that it is anxiety, and that I should try taking it for a prolonged period of time before anything else.

I just don't know what to do, and I'm more scared than anything that this is more severe than even I think it is. Does anyone have/had experience with these symptoms before/currently, and did you ever figure out what the cause is/was?

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Hi @tlowrey, You may have noticed that I moved your message to this active discussion called "Left shoulder pain after eating or drinking." I did this so you can connect with other members talking about the same pain in shoulder/arm and armpit after eating as you are. Click VIEW & REPLY to scroll through past posts from members like @astaingegerdm @fourof5zs @marianna1968jt @jparks2006 @marlaxyz @cim37343 and many others.

TLowrey, do you keep a journal of what you eat and when to see if it is related to certain foods, activities or time of day? You also mention discomfort in your jaw. Is that a new symptom?

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I do not keep a journal of those things as my diet is not the most consistent, but I feel as though with the symptoms I'm experiencing, maybe I should to see if certain foods are causing this pain. The past few days I have definitely upped my intake of carbohydrates compared to my normal intake, eating lots of white bread, pastas, also lots of protein mainly being chicken. The discomfort in my jaw has been an off an on issue ever since I had my panic attack 5-6 months ago, but it seems to be getting worse now compared to when it started (not severe pain, but more discomfort in association with aches and pains in my body, mostly in the chest, arms, shoulders and back).

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@tlowrey – Pain is not always coming from the area that hurts. There is referred pain from other parts of your body that you can feel in the chest, back and arms. There could be an irritation of the diaphragm, such as a hernia, or problem below the diaphragm from stomach, pancreas and gallbladder For example. The nerves from these areas are connected to major nerves going up in the chest.
It does not seem to be related to the heart- good!
I think your next step should be a thorough evaluation by an Internist or Gastroenterologist.
Your anxiety probably is caused by your pain.
The ER is unable to do a thorough work up, but they make sure nothing acute is happening to your body.
Was this confusing? Let me know if I can explain things better!

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@hopeful33250

Hello @jrofri and welcome to Mayo Connect.

I am sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing in your shoulder, arm, neck and ear after meals. That sounds very uncomfortable. If you are comfortable sharing more about yourself, it would help to know some more information. For example: how long have you experienced this pain? Have you had any other digestive symptoms (like GERD, ulcers, gall bladder problems, etc.)? Have you had any stomach or abdominal surgery?

By giving our Members a bit more information, perhaps someone else in our community might be able to share a similar experience with you. We look forward to getting to know.

One last question, have you talked with your doctor about this pain?

Teresa

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first of all I’m so glad they have a site like this I have been to numerous doctors and they all say the same thing they say all my test come back normal, but every time I eat about 15 to 30 minutes later I have pain radiating through the shoulders lower back neck and ears usually radiating on the left side and under the left rib cage.I noticed the pain mostly at night after dinner time or in a sitting position the first time it happened to me I really thought I was having a heart attack .I went to the emergency room and they said my heart was fine but my blood pressure was super high. it was due to the panic of thinking I had a heart attack

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@antman – I don’t know if you saw my post from October 8 discussing the same thing. I have had that feeling that I have a heart attack and went to ER. I had Esophagitis – I had acid reflux for years. I then saw my gastroenterologist who did an endoscopy, took biopsies etc. and prescribed a different PPI for acid reduction than I used to take.
Check with a Gastroenterologist- you may also need an endoscopy.

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Hello @antman and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I understand you are having concern over your radiating pain following eating. I see that @astaingegerdm has responded with some information based on her experience.

Did your care team in the ER mention doing follow up with your primary care doctor or a Gastroenterologist for next steps? If not, have you considered calling to set up a follow up appointment to continue to investigate the root cause now that you've ruled out heart problems?

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@amandajro

Hello @antman and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I understand you are having concern over your radiating pain following eating. I see that @astaingegerdm has responded with some information based on her experience.

Did your care team in the ER mention doing follow up with your primary care doctor or a Gastroenterologist for next steps? If not, have you considered calling to set up a follow up appointment to continue to investigate the root cause now that you've ruled out heart problems?

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Yes I went to my family doctor and they ran lots of test. I haven’t been to a gastroenterologist yet ,but I need to,Because it comes and goes quite often . It feels like it sets of a nerve. It doesn’t matter what I eat. The large the meal the meal pain I feel

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@astaingegerdm

@antman – I don’t know if you saw my post from October 8 discussing the same thing. I have had that feeling that I have a heart attack and went to ER. I had Esophagitis – I had acid reflux for years. I then saw my gastroenterologist who did an endoscopy, took biopsies etc. and prescribed a different PPI for acid reduction than I used to take.
Check with a Gastroenterologist- you may also need an endoscopy.

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Thanks you guys are so helpful

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@hopeful33250

@marlaxyz

At Mayo Connect we are all patients, like yourself, and not medical professionals. However, perhaps some of our Members will see your post and offer suggestions based on their own personal experiences.

One last thought – when you eat small, more frequent meals is the discomfort lessened?

Teresa

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I have left shoulder pain half way between the top left shoulder and my neck. It is only when I over eat and so I figure there must be some nerve that gets punched that runs from your stomach. I have been eating less volume of food per meal for weeks and now yesterday I got this pain half way through the Christmas Eve meal. I hadn’t eaten that much volume for quite some time so it was like my stomach was over stretching and for some crazy reason the pain happens in the mid top left shoulder. It’s the only way I get this pain ever. It goes away with massage and pressing the painful area and lifting my left arm repeatedly for a minute or so. Hope that helps.

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@ellajo

I have left shoulder pain half way between the top left shoulder and my neck. It is only when I over eat and so I figure there must be some nerve that gets punched that runs from your stomach. I have been eating less volume of food per meal for weeks and now yesterday I got this pain half way through the Christmas Eve meal. I hadn’t eaten that much volume for quite some time so it was like my stomach was over stretching and for some crazy reason the pain happens in the mid top left shoulder. It’s the only way I get this pain ever. It goes away with massage and pressing the painful area and lifting my left arm repeatedly for a minute or so. Hope that helps.

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Welcome, @ellajo. Have you ever brought this issue to your doctor? Are you able to reach the painful area yourself to massage the pain away?

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Hello
I get exactly the same pain after eating .
I have been told it is due to my Heitis Hernier but I have not been offered any treatment .
The only time I can eat with no pain is in the morning and the worst time when I get the pain is after evening meal .
This leads me to think my food isnt digesting fast enough and building up in my stoumach and pressing on a nerve

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Update: Resolved! Thanks to COVID, my planned GI work-up was postponed. In the meantime, I consulted with a few physical therapists that were offering online consults (2 different practices). Both suggested exercises for dorsal scapular nerve damage/impingement. What always puzzled me was that I would get pain exactly like the post-meal pain while doing certain activities, one being chopping vegetables (I made everything from scratch). Also, depending on where I was using my laptop and therefore, the touch pad, I would end up getting the same pain. Chopping vegetables, scrubbing pots, computer work, painting at an easel, overhead work, weeding. I could be doing any of those, sit down to have a cup of tea and then feel the pain. It was not GI but musculoskeletal. Once I stopped the repetitive motion, sat at the table with my arm at a different angle and my back slightly forward, the pain would start. If I didn't lie down, it would wrap around my ribs. It seemed eating was the trigger but it was stopping a repetitive motion that was irritating an already irritated nerve.

It was relative easy to fix it, too. I raise each arm straight up and just lift my rib cage slightly on the same side, and do another maneuver with both arms straight out at shoulder height and alternate moving one arm to the side so both arms form a 90 degree angle. I have progressed to using a band to provide some resistance. If I'm sitting at a computer, I follow the mid back mobilization exercises demonstrated on one of the websites (all the PTs are Doctors of Physical Therapy and all have personally answered questions). When chopping vegetables, I keep my cutting arm closer to my side rather than having my elbow sticking out. I have not had a problem with this pain now in several months and canceled all GI tests.

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@geordiegeorge

Hello
I get exactly the same pain after eating .
I have been told it is due to my Heitis Hernier but I have not been offered any treatment .
The only time I can eat with no pain is in the morning and the worst time when I get the pain is after evening meal .
This leads me to think my food isnt digesting fast enough and building up in my stoumach and pressing on a nerve

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There's a stomach emptying test where they give you a standard meal on an empty stomach..it has a tracer in it..then you get an x-ray every hour…I had the test at Mayo MN..they established that I had post operative Gastropaneisis because of how nerves that empty the stomach were damaged in a Nissen surgery…. It was done 6 years ago..it's not fixable..

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@ken82 I’m sorry for what damage the surgery caused. I now read so many posts with problems after Nissen. It is not a new procedure, I would think there would be a safe routine by now.
Many moons ago when I still worked in Pediatrics, there were quite a few children with reflux that had a Nissen. I seriously don’t know how they did over the years. However, I saw less and less patients that went through it. More kids were on meds for reflux.
I had that gastric emptying test too- I was thought to have gastroparesis. I didn’t, but had slow passage through the rest of the intestines.

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