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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Addiction and Substance Abuse
Sharp chest and abdominal pain
I had a severe accident almost four years ago where I bent a steering wheel with my chest as a result of a car accident in early 2006. Ever since I have had chest pain that come and goes, sometimes more severe than others. Whenever I have smoked marijuana it hurts like 5-10 minutes after inhaling, I start feeling pressure on the sternum and pain mostly on the left side of the chest. Some other muscles in my body feel really weird too. At times the pain radiates up and down the sternum and to the left side under my collar bone. Also, the beginning of my stomach starts to hurt and I feel sort of hungry but really uncomfortable. All these symptoms are accompanied by shortness of breath. I am not sure if this is the result of the accident or what is going on. I have had xrays done to my chest, seen plenty of doctor`s and they tell me its bad reflux and heartburn. I don`t really feel pain or discomfort when I smoke cigarettes, only with marijuana. I have been wondering for the longest is its related, a cause from the accident or both... I have also been worried it may be some sort of pulmonary or heart disease but when I go to the Dr. and I get check for breathing or ekg they tell me everything`s fine. I also had a spirometry right after after the accident but nothing came up. The stomach pain I have been suspecting it is from heavy drinking and I may have an ulcer. Anything would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for the question. It sounds like you had a severe life-threatening accident; the type that can cause lingering symptoms of discomfort for several years.
Any injury to the chest and upper abdomen will commonly produce ongoing pains, especially when smoking. This can come from smoking cigarettes or MJ, but tends to happen more with MJ smoking because there tends to be an even more vigorous inhale and breath holding aspect to MJ smoking than to cigarette smoking. The pains in your stomach may be similar, or may be related to stomach acid build-up: it is hard to tell.
All of these things might be good reasons to think about changing your current decision to smoke MJ or cigarettes, and to consider "giving your body and your brain a break"! Hope this helps.
Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University