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Burning Pain in Arms

Q: I used to have terrific burning pain in my arms when walking. Since having stents and open-heart surgery, the arm pain continues, but is less severe. What causes it? I’m scheduled for another stress test.

A: Skeletal muscles in your arms and legs need oxygen and can produce pain if they do not get enough of it. However, pain in the arm, neck, jaw, shoulder, and back because of coronary artery obstructions (which I assume led to your open-heart surgery and stents) is thought to be “referred” from the heart itself because of the lack of oxygen to the heart muscle. I agree that your next step is to have a stress test to determine if you have remaining coronary artery obstructions.

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