Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed that after I smoke a few cigarettes I feel a pain under my left shoulder blade. The pain feels like the tenderness that you get when you have a really bad knot in your back, but when I reach back to the tender area there’s no lump or knot of any kind. Also, unlike a knot, when I massage the tender area for a while it actually usually hurts worse when I wake up the next morning. The area the hurts is in a very specific spot (i.e., I can put my finger exactly on the spot that hurts, but I don’t feel anything there). It’s almost like a deep bruise, but there’s no skin discoloration or anything like that.
I’m a 22 year old man, and I’ve been smoking on and off for the last 2 and a half years. I usually smoke American Spirits, and I would say that, on average, I smoke about 5-10 cigarettes a day. I managed to quit altogether for 4 months straight about a year and a half ago, but then stupidly started up again. I’m in the process of trying to quit again now, but I haven’t been able to kick the habit completely yet. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been smoking about 3-5 cigarettes every 2 or 3 days (so I’ve developed the habit of smoking significantly less, and allowing myself a day or two of no cigarettes in between each time that I smoke, in the hopes of slowly becoming comfortable with making it through days without any tobacco at all).
Usually, when I take a day or two off from smoking, the pain in my shoulder greatly diminishes, sometimes to the point that I don’t feel it at all. I’m not having any problems with my breathing, nor am I coughing significantly or anything else like that. I’m not in great physical shape, but I’m not overweight, I eat well, and, if I need to, I’m more than capable of running a couple of miles without feeling like absolute death afterwards. I should also mention that I’m diabetic, and though I know that smoking is especially dangerous for people with diabetes, I recently had an appointment with my endocrinologist and he told me that my blood sugars are fine and that my diabetes is well under control.
So my question is, simply, what do you think this pain in my shoulder could be? Naturally, I worry about the possibility that it could be lung cancer, but, like I said, I’m 22, I haven’t been smoking for very long, and I have no other symptoms, so it seems rather unlikely to me that this could be cancer. Does anyone have any insight about what else could be the cause of this pain? I’m quite sure that it’s linked to smoking, but I’m not sure whether smoking is the cause or if it’s simply an irritation to a pre-existing injury of some sort. Oh, and that reminds me, I’ve had problems with a pinched nerve in roughly the same area (under my left shoulder blade) for several years, but that nerve pain has always been a little bit higher up on my back than this new pain, and the pain caused by both isn’t quite the same.
I know I should quit smoking, and I’m doing my very best, so please don’t just tell me that my best option is to just quit. I’m quitting. It’s happening. Perhaps not as quickly as I’d like, but I’m absolutely committed to kicking the habit altogether, and I hope to be completely cigarette free within the next week or two. I’m not looking for a lecture, just some insight about what this pain might be (and hopefully a little peace of mind). Thanks for your help.