If You Notice This Pain at Night, Get Your Lungs Checked, Experts Say
Discomfort in this body part could be a sign that something is wrong with your lungs.
When you're in pain in the middle of the night, it's impossible to sleep. On top of hurting, you'll often feel restless and ultimately groggy the next morning. But those late-night aches may trying to tell you something. According to experts, pain at night in one specific spot could be a sign that you need to get your lungs checked for cancer. To see if you're experiencing discomfort in this area, read on.
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Pain in your shoulder at night could be a sign of lung cancer.
Shoulder pain can result from a lot of ailments, but experts warn that if you notice it at night, it could be linked to lung cancer. According to the Moffitt Cancer Center, "If shoulder pain occurs when resting, worsens at night or doesn't involve any loss of motion, it may indicate lung cancer."
While your shoulder and lungs might not seem connected, a lung tumor can exert pressure on a nearby nerve, resulting in shoulder pain. "Shoulder pain associated with early-stage lung cancer may occur from tumor pressure on nerves," explains patient advocate and healthcare professional Gail Trauco, RN.
It's a phenomenon known as referred pain, which comes from one place in the body but is felt in another area. According to Verywell Health, a lung tumor can cause "pressure on a nerve that travels near the lungs. In this case, the brain interprets pain as coming from the shoulder, when in fact, the nerve is being irritated within the lungs."
A Pancoast tumor could cause shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain is an especially important sign when it comes to a Pancoast tumor, a "rare type of lung cancer that begins in the rounded upper section of the lung and spreads to nearby areas of the body," the Moffitt Cancer Center explains. According to a July paper published by StatPearls, Pancoast tumors "cause shoulder and arm pain in almost all patients."
Oftentimes, people with this form of cancer don't tend to experience respiratory issues that are common with other lung cancers. The experts at the Moffitt Cancer Center say other signs of a Pancoast tumor include muscle weakness, tingling, loss of sensation, facial flushing, and excessive facial sweating.
Shoulder pain can also be due to bone metastases or malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Shoulder pain could also be linked to bone metastases or malignant pleural mesothelioma. Bone metastases involve cancer that has spread to the bones, in this case near the shoulder. According to Verywell Health, "Roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of people with lung cancer develop bone metastases at some time during the course of their disease."
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the membranes that line the lungs and is most frequently associated with exposure to asbestos. Verywell Health reported that 14 percent of patients' first sign of mesothelioma was shoulder pain.
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Coughing, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes are some other early signs of lung cancer.
Shoulder pain isn't the only early sign of lung cancer. Trauco says unexplained weight loss, excessive fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, a cough that doesn't go away, coughing up blood, lymph node swelling, and unexplained upper extremity swelling could all be early signs of lung cancer.
She advises that "any unexplained pain which continues should be evaluated by a physician."