diagnosis of "cervical angina" from cardio doctor, but neuro disagrees

by Brian
(Spring Garden, Alabama)

I have been battling a condition that mimics cardiac arrest now for over 3 years. After multiple hospitalizations and tests, I have been given an all clear on my heart and lungs. The last heart doctor interviewed me and was specifically wondering if I had any neck injuries. Well, I have had a neck injury. One that basically follows the same timeline as the chest pain and shortness of breath I have been experiencing.

So, I return to my spine doctor and he basically says he has never heard of it. To add to his statement of no knowledge, he also said my MRI doesn't show anything that would be causing this pain.
I have trouble sleeping now due to the pain in my left arm, all the way down to my hand, where it becomes excruciating if I turn the wrong way in my sleep. My fingers are now almost always numb. I have a very sharp pain between my shoulder blades that now rarely eases up. I have tightness across the upper part of my chest and it just feels partly numb. Upon exertion, especially any that might involve using my arms, I become very symptomatic, with rapid heart rate, chest pain, shortness of breath and arm pain. If I carry anything of any weight at all, especially up steps or stairs, it brings on major symptoms.

I am literally at the end of my rope. If they (spine doctors) say they haven't heard of this and my MRI, while showing some things, does not, in their opinion, show anything that would cause this, then what do I do?

I need answers. Do any of these symptoms seem familiar? Could they be related to a neck/spine/nerve injury? Has anyone there heard of the diagnosis of Cervical Angina?

Any comments welcomed.

Dear Brian,
I feel better having read your letter. Firstly because I too had never heard of cervical angina! But yes, it's a very real condition, well described on the net as non-cardiac front of chest pain, brought on by exertion or emotion and relieved by rest.

But you have mid back pain, so it's not an exact fit.

Does the xray report say anything about the joints of Luschka, uncovertebral or para vertebral joints, or the foramena, IVFs?

I have three tests for you to do. Please do all three before answering, keeping to this same thread.

1. Turn your head to the left, and then look up. What happens? Be precise.

2. Do the Upper Limb Tension Test; you'll find it below. You'll need a helper.

3. Press firmly on the joints between the ribs and your sternum. Are any particularly tender or swollen? Which?

And lastly, exactly which fingers feel numb?

Alas I leave tomorrow for three weeks break. You may not get an answer for a month.

Dr B


»Diagnosis of "cervical angina" from cardio doc, but neuro disagrees

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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