Medical Q&As

Breast + arm pain - stress related?

Recently I have been feeling tender and sore under my right breast. I have also had some pain in my right arm and a feeling of having a \"dead\" arm in the morning together with tightness in my shoulders. I am under a bit of stress recently but nothing I have not been through before. Could these symptoms be stress related or could they be something else? I have been to my GP who could find nothing wrong, despite examination and blood tests. Any thoughts on this?

It is certainly possible that your symptoms are related to stress because stress can give rise to increased tension in the muscles, which in turn can give rise to various musculoskeletal symptoms. Perhaps you have strained your pectoral muscles at some stage? The pectoral muscles are attached at one end to the chest wall under the breast tissue and at the other end are attached to the upper end of the humerus or upper arm bone. It is also a possibility that your posture in bed may have contributed to the problem because you indicate that the arm feels “dead” in the mornings. Perhaps one of the nerves in the upper arm has been compressed by the way you were lying. To use the common expression you may literally have been lying on a nerve. I note that you have been to your GP and that the doctor did not find anything wrong. That is not an unusual conclusion to a GP consultation. Very often we may not be able to come up with a precise specific diagnosis but at the same time we can exclude various possibilities through physical examination and appropriate tests. This problem may resolve but if symptoms persist or increase in severity then you should revisit your GP.