Chest Pain: Five Common Causes

chest pain causes

Contrary to popular belief, chest pain doesn’t always mean you are having a heart attack.

chest pain causes

Any time you find yourself in a doctor’s office or emergency room, chances are they are going to ask if you have any chest pain. The reason for this is that chest pain is a very good indicator of potential heart problems, and obviously you don’t want to mess around with that. There are plenty of other diseases and situations that can cause chest pain however, so its always a good thing to be well-versed in the possible causes of chest pain and how to treat them. Before I get into that, I want to say that its always better to be safe than sorry, so if you have any chest pain that you are unsure of, its always better to call a doctor, or 911 just so you don’t take any chances.

Heartburn or acid reflux is one of the biggest causes of non-heart attack chest pain. Gastroesophageal reflux is when the gastric acids in your digestive system back up into your esophagus and cause burns, since the esophagus doesn’t contain the protective lining that the stomache does. This will most likely occur after you eat something that doesn’t agree with you, but if you experience it more than twice a week, you should get it checked out.

A panic attack happens when people experience symptoms similar to a heart attack such as shaking, nausea, sweating, dizziness, or a pounding heart. They generally happen to people with a history of the illness, or who are undergoing serious stress. Panic attacks can be very scary when they happen, so if it happens to you regardless of anything, you should go to a doctor and get checked out.

READ MORE: What Causes Chest Pain While Running?

Strained chest muscles can also cause undue chest pain. If you recently engaged in strenuous physical activity that your body isn’t used to and are experiencing chest pain, it could be a pulled muscle. The way to test for this is to press on your chest near the site of pain. If you actually feel more pain from doing that, it is most likely just a muscle injury.

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the layers of tissue around the heart that can cause a sharp, stabbing pain. It generally happens after a viral infection, or in conjunction with an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis.

Shingles, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox stays in your body for many years and can strike again when you are an adult. The first manifestation is itching and burning skin, and if this symptom happens near the chest, it can cause pain similar to that of a heart attack. The difference is that a rash will soon appear, but if you think you have shingles its very important to get to the doctor within 72 hours to shorten the duration of the flare up.

I can’t stress enough that if you are having chest pain for no discernible reason, it is always best to seek medical attention. It is also important to remember that many things can cause chest pain however, so if you have just eaten something spicy, single-handedly moved an armoire, or been treated for a virus, you might be able to rest easy.


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Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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