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Acid reflux / GERD questions


Super Moderator
Does anyone else get referred pain with their acid reflux? I have GERD (which is apparently a fancy way of saying chronic acid reflux) and I also have frequent left-side ribcage pain. That particular pain doesn't seem to be related to my maybe-IBD, as I'm either in or very near remission right now and only have problems with my guts when I eat trigger foods. This particular pain, it feels like it's either in my left ribs or my left lung and it's a couple of inches below my armpit.

I'm wondering if it's referred pain from reflux/heartburn and not really in my lung or ribs. My reflux tends to act up when I exercise. I started the morning off with this left rib pain, and I felt my reflux kick up more than usual when I hit the gym today - in spite of having taken about 5 Tums before going to the gym (I usually take 2 or 3 Tums before exercising as a precaution, today with this left-sided pain I played it safe and took a few extra). After I finished exercising I ate lunch, and after eating the pain moved to the center of my chest and felt like classic heartburn. It's moved back to the left now though.

That was too long, sorry for rambling on, but long story short - does anybody else get referred pain with GERD/ reflux? If so, is it always referred to the same place? I only ever get this rib pain on the left, never the right. One more question while I'm asking: What do you guys do to treat your reflux? I've now taken about 10 or 12 Tums over the past couple of hours and that didn't do much of anything! I'm drinking a lot of water too and have only eaten low-acid foods today. What else can I do to get through these weird reflux attacks?


Super Moderator
I should add, sometimes when the left pain gets very bad it feels like it radiates out into my left shoulder blade as well. But I'm thinking that is also just referred pain from a bad attack of reflux? I'm currently on 40mg of Omeprazole (Prilosec) which had been working pretty well up until now.

Regular Joe

Senior Member
Hi Cat,

I have Barrett's Esophagus which is what GERD sometimes evolves to. The pain your describing sounds more like an acute gastritis "attack" which is mild inflammation of your stomach lining. It can present in many places in your stomach at the same time. I'm not sure what kind of diet you're using, but it would be helpful to backtrack to figure out if certain foods are contributing like tomato sauce. It usually doesn't las much more than a few days at a time, but it can be exacerbated off and on.

There are a number of different things you can do such as wedge your bed so that you're sleeping with your head above your stomach. You can try a more powerful PPI such as Nexium. You can also take Extra strength Zantac (150mg) when the heartburn feels worse, you can do that while using 40mg Prilosec. My GI and me were "brainstorming" and we decided to try Prilosec 20mg in the AM and the other 20mg in the PM. I found that this regimen has eliminated my need to use Zantac.

If your pain and heartburn does not go away after a couple weeks, you should see your GI.


Super Moderator
Thanks, Joe. I do take my Prilosec the same way, 20 mg in the morning and 20 mg in the evening. And, I have a GI appointment on the 22nd, so I'm going to ask about my reflux issues when I see him then. Last time I talked to him, he said that 40 mg daily of Prilosec should be fine and that I shouldn't need to take Tums or Zantac or anything else. Obviously that's not the case, so I'll see what he recommends.

As for what triggered this, I'm sure it's chocolate. I ate something spicy on Friday which upset my guts, and I had some chocolate the next day which calmed my nausea greatly. But of course chocolate is bad for reflux (and perhaps the spicy food was partly responsible too) so it helped one health issue but worsened another.
Has anyone had surgery for their GERD?? One GI I saw wanted me to have surgery to fix it. I chickened out. I hate the idea of having the top part of my stomach opened. I have already opened the bottom part a couple of times. I am also chicken, just because I have Crohn's and I already have so many adhesions in my belly. But, if it really helps, it might be worth it.
I'm sorry to hear about your struggle with acid reflux. It really can seem overwhelming at times. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, believe me. I had acid reflux for years and went through a lot of pain. Now I control it with some simple diet and lifestyle changes. I no longer spend on drugs and medications. There's a book called The Reflux Solution by David Smith that you might want to check out, it sure helped me. Best of luck.
Yes - After months of research I came across a old Mayo Clinic discussion regarding r shoulder pain - Reflux absolutely can cause referred pain and does and has with me and my daughter when she was 15 or so. My old girlfriend had shoulder pain really bad as well
I mean really really bad.I had it in college and never knew what was causing it until I discovered numerous articles on it. Most docs - including GI docs - unless they are very old will even have any concept of this.

Also - My daily protocol is: Digestive enzymes and magnesium and acidophilis. I have had numerous biopsies and they wanted to do the flap surgery as well. I also have barrets esophagus - so yes I know what I am talking about.

I hope this helps. The biggest major thing I have ever learned was about the use of digestive enzymes for reflux.

Take care.