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Chest Pain: Causes and Treatments

Chest pain is a fairly common condition – roughly 30% of the global population will experience some form of chest pain. While it is among the most common reasons for visits to the emergency room, not all incidents of chest pain are medically serious. Nevertheless, you should receive a comprehensive evaluation if you’ve experienced pains in your chest.

CardioVascular Health Clinic provides complete heart care for chest pain and related conditions. 

Here, we share information on the common causes of chest pain and treatment options.  

What’s Causing My Chest Pain? 

There are numerous types of chest pain, which can range from a persistent ache to acute, stabbing pain, depending upon the condition that is causing the symptom. Chest pain can indicate the following medical issues:

Digestive Disorders

Certain disorders of the digestive system can trigger chest pain, including:

  • Esophageal disorders: Spasms in the esophagus can trigger chest pain that can occur suddenly or last over an hour. Symptoms include burning pain in the chest and throat, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Gallbladder disease: Gallbladder disorders can cause abdominal pain that radiates from the abdomen to the chest and back, often on the right side of the body. Other symptoms include bloating, nausea, fever, chills, and jaundice.
  • Heartburn: Heartburn is the main symptom of acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid encroaches upon the esophagus and causes pain and irritation (chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD). Symptoms include burning chest pain and a burning sensation in the throat. 
  • Peptic ulcer: Peptic ulcers are sores or breaks in the membrane of the duodenum (upper part of the small intestines), esophagus, or stomach. Symptoms include abdominal pain that radiates into the chest, loss of appetite, vomiting, and indigestion.

Heart Disorders

While chest pain can indicate coronary artery disease (CAD), it isn’t a disease in itself; it is a symptom of an underlying condition. These conditions might include:

  • Angina pectoris: Chest pain triggered by insufficient oxygen to the heart is called angina pectoris. The chest pain might be similar to indigestion, though it can also resemble a tight squeezing sensation or heavy pressure (as though a weight was sitting on your chest). You might also experience pain or discomfort in your upper back, shoulders, neck, arms, jaw, or abdomen. 
  • Aortic dissection: Aortic dissection is a split within the inner tissue layer of the aorta – the main artery that carries blood from the heart throughout the body. Symptoms include a tearing chest pain that travels through the neck and upper back, shortness of breath, and loss of consciousness. This is a potentially fatal condition that must be treated immediately. 
  • Heart attack: A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, is an arterial blockage that disrupts blood flow to the heart muscle. Symptoms can include chest pain, light-headedness, back pain, jaw pain, neck pain, sweating, and nausea.
  • Pericarditis: Pericarditis is the irritation and inflammation of the pericardium, the tissue that surrounds the heart. Symptoms can include stabbing chest pain (though it is sometimes a dull ache), neck pain, shoulder pain, cough, fatigue, swollen legs, abdominal swelling, and heart palpitations. 

Lung Disorders

Certain disorders of the lungs can cause pain in the chest. These include:

  • Pneumothorax: Pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. This condition occurs when air flows out of the lung internally and fills the surrounding space, restricting the lung’s ability to expand and ultimately leading to collapse. A collapsed lung can result from trauma (injury), illness, or even changes in air pressure or altitude. Symptoms can include sharp and sudden chest pain, a decrease in blood pressure, shortness of breath, and elevated heart rate.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: Pulmonary hypertension is a form of high blood pressure within the arteries that transfer blood from the heart to the lungs. Symptoms include chest pain or pressure, loss of consciousness, fatigue, and swollen ankles.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Occasionally, chest pain is related to physical injuries or issues relating to the cartilage, muscles, and bones in the chest. These include:

  • Costochondritis: Inflammation of the cartilage within the rib cage. Symptoms include sharp chest pain on the left side that worsens when coughing, breathing deeply, or stretching upward.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic fatigue disorder that can cause chest pain, muscle pain, cramping, mood disorders, sleep disorders, headaches, and brain fog.
  • Physical trauma: Injuries to the chest, soft tissue injuries, or bruised or fractured ribs can lead to chest pain. A bruised rib can cause severe chest pain while inhaling.

How Can Chest Pain be Treated?

Treatment protocols for chest pain will depend upon the cause. If you are experiencing chest pain, please contact our helpful representatives to schedule a consultation today.

Patient Resources

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I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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