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In diagnosing teen health, pay attention to shooting pain down both arms

Updated on March 27, 2011

Anxiety and Panic

I had slept a half hour when my youngest daughter entered my room. "My arms! I have shooting pain up and down my arms! It won't stop!!!"

I sat upright, unable to jump start my brain. What might cause such terrible, shooting pain? Comets set off a display of shooting stars, but what set off arm pain? A heart attack? She was 17! Yet, athletes were dying of heart attacks regularly, according to newspapers.

"Do something, anything, now now now!" Lexie leaned into me, turned away from me, attempted in some fashion to be comfortable. The clock was ticking. Oh God, what was I supposed to do, I was clueless. And Jack was unemployed. We had a huge deductible.

I raced downstairs and dug out an Advil.  On the way back, I had an inspiration; the Internet was a viable diagnostic tool. "Is your laptop on?" She nodded, moaned, remained on my bed as I raced to her room, gulping oxygen.

Googling "shooting pain in arms", several sites popped up.  By the fifth site, Lexie had joined me, sighing and moaning but wanting comfort.

Then I stumbled upon a godsend: a medical site with 300 diagnostic questions called Wrong Diagnosis. I say godsend because this site switched our focus: I asked questions that distracted her pain and her answers reduced my panic. It was not a heart attack. 

She answered every question.  At 2:45 am she yawned.  "Mom, the pain has stopped. Only my neck is sore... I want to sleep... "

I wanted to leap and shout "Halleluia!"  I went downstairs, got her another Advil and collapsed.

Mind Body Connection regarding Arm Pain

What we discovered

Lexie is a dancer and in fairly good shape. But that afternoon she had gone swimming with friends for the first time in a year. Her neck became sore that evening, but she ignored it. Her diagnosis indicated a pulled muscle. She awoke this morning feeling fine. (It was nearly noon when she crawled out of bed.)

Shooting pain has many possible causes. Her symptoms may have indicated a heart attack, but heart attacks usually cause pain in one arm, not both arms. Carpal tunnel was mentioned as well as horrific diseases that would debilitate her for life.

Wrong Diagnosis helped narrow the pool of possible health issues by offering a series of detailed questions.  (Some generated TMI inadvisable between some mothers and daughters.  For us, these probing questions offered comic relief.) The direction our questions led seemed to indicate lack of a debilitating condition.  By the time we were done with the questionnaire, we were confident that we understood why she was in such pain.

However, I wanted to verify my findings.  I had the choice of four delivery systems.  One was free and the other three were low cost.  We could have chosen:

1. A free email with graphs describing the health analysis.  Ours arrived within minutes, once it had compiled the information.
2. Three more detailed delivery options which required more time to compile: a detailed computer analysis for $25; a doctor's scan of the information for $55; a full doctor review for $77.

Had the free graph raised more issues in my mind, I might have opted for one of the others.  However, I felt pretty confident that Lexie's pain had been caused by unusual physical activity and so I opted to observe her for a few days on my own.

I have bookmarked this site for future health searches and recommend it to anyone who may be in a similar health panic.

Obviously, if the situation deteriorates, you must call 9-11 immediately.

© 2009 Barbara


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    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      cebu, yes, she is fine, thank you. I am realizing many of my hubs are about process- how I work through issues that present themselves. Rereading this one was a case in point. Thanks for commenting.

    • cebutouristspot profile image

      cebutouristspot 5 years ago from Cebu

      What a scary situation you found yourself in. I hope that she is now ok.