The causes of chest pain can be divided into 2 two major categories: (1) Those caused by heart problems and (2) those caused by non-heart related issues. These are discussed in detail under symptoms of chest pain. In this article we will discuss the possible causes of chest pain according to how it feels and how it presents (what part of the upper body it occurs in).
What Are The Causes Of A Dull Chest Pain?
This condition can present as a dull pain which usually starts on the left side of the chest under the breast. It can radiate to the neck, jaw, arms and back. An unstable angina attack may produce the same sort of pain but it can occur at rest and last longer than 5 minutes. If in any doubt talk to your doctor about a referral to chest pain clinics.
While a sharp stabbing pain is a classic symptom of a heart attack in men, heart attacks in women can produce different symptoms. Many women report the pain as a dull chest discomfort. It may also be an atypical sign of stroke in women.
Patients with this disease can complain of a dull chest ache in addition to shortness of breath and coughing up of blood.
Indigestion due to a large meal or eating certain foods can cause chest discomfort in many women.
Disorders of the Esophagus
Disorders include acid reflux disease and esophageal spasm. Symptoms include a dull chest pain and difficulties in swallowing.
An inflammation in the area between the ribs and their cartilage. Costochondritis
is caused by muscle strain and lasts a few hours to several days. Pain is normally dull but may become sharp if you press down on the ribs or move the upper part of your body.
Pleurisy and/or Pneumonia
Both conditions affect the lungs and can cause a dull pain. However there may also be sharp pain which worsens with inhalation or coughing. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the lungs. It can cause sharp chest pain which worsens after coughing or when the person breathes in. Pleurisy pain is often referred to as pleuritic pain.
What Are The Causes Of Left Sided Chest Pain?
Pain on the left side of the chest is more likely to be caused by heart problems such as angina or heart attack, simply because the left side is where the heart is located. However even minor conditions like excess gas or acid reflux can lead to temporary pain on the left side. Another condition to consider is fibromyalgia. Women are more likely to suffer from this chronic muscle pain condition than men (read our fibromyalgia guide). One of the fibromyalgia tender points is located in the left side of the chest and it may be sore and painful to touch. Gall bladder inflammation can also cause acute pain which radiates to either or both sides of the chest.
What Are The Causes Of Right Sided Chest Pain?
Pain on the right side of the chest is unlikely to be related to heart disease in women. Conditions which can affect this side include:
Gallstones are the most common cause of severe and constant pain on the right side.
Muscle pain can occur due to overexertion or lifting a heavy object.
This lung disorder can cause pain on the right side.
Inflammation of the liver can cause the chest to 'pop'. You may also experience pain in the right side of the back and right shoulder.
Colds and flus can cause temporary pain.
Antacid Side Effects
These medications used for treating heartburn can sometimes cause pain on the right side. Heartburn or acid reflux can also cause pain on the right side.
If you are stressed, any pain or chest tightening it causes is likely to appear on the right side. Take the online stress test.
What Are The Causes Of Chest Pain During Pregnancy?
Pain is quite common during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. As the baby grows in size it can put pressure on organs in the stomach and diaphragm causing chest pain and shortness of breath. This is a normal pregnancy symptom and not usually anything to worry about. Other possible causes of pain include:
This can occur due to trapped gas under the ribs. It can lead to sudden sharp pain which usually resolves on its own.
This is one of the most common causes of chest pain in pregnant women. It can lead to pain, breathing difficulties and fatigue. It is more common in third world countries where mothers do not receive adequate prenatal care.
If the mother is deficient in calcium this can lead to muscle cramping in the chest area and breast pain. Talk to your prenatal healthcare team about ensuring you take suitable prenatal vitamins.
Another common cause in both pregnant and non-pregnant women.
Interesting article: Heart disease in pregnancy.
What Are The Causes of Squeezing Chest Pain?
Below is a list of the some causes behind a squeezing chest pain:
Some people report a squeezing pain when they suffer angina attacks.
Also known as dissecting aneurysm, this is a life threatening condition which causes sudden, sharp pain across the chest. It may extend to the back between the shoulder blades. Those with risk factors for heart disease or hypertension (high blood pressure) are most at risk from this condition.
This is a sudden clot which forms in the arteries; usually the clot comes from the leg. Risks of an embolism are higher for those with a cancer diagnosis, pregnant women, people who have been immobile for a long period of time or those who have sustained an injury to the leg.
Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart. Pericarditis can cause mild or sharp squeezing pain as well as a cough, hiccups, weakness, muscle aches and shortness of breath.
Next: Read about the diagnosis of chest pain.