Alternative Names: Chest tightness, chest discomfort.
Chest pain is one of the most common reasons people call for emergency medical help. Every year emergency room doctors evaluate and treat millions of people for chest pain.
Fortunately, chest pain does not always signal a heart attack. Often chest pain is unrelated to any heart problem. But even if the chest pain you experience has nothing to do with your cardiovascular system, the problem may still be important — and worth the time spent in an emergency room for evaluation.
Causes of chest pain include pleurisy and pneumonia. Both of these conditions will get worse with a deep breath or cough. Shingles may also cause a sharp, burning, or tingling pain the feels like a tight band around one side of the chest.
Digestive system problems can also cause chest pain. A sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine usually cause pain below the breastbone that is worse on an empty stomach. Heartburn or indigestion can cause chest pain too. Gallstones may cause pain in the right side of the chest or around the shoulder blade that is worse after a meal or in the middle of the night.
Other causes of chest pain include asthma, which is generally accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough.
Chest Pain - Risk Factors:
Cardiac: Heart attack, angina, aortic dissection, coronary spasm, Pericarditis, etc.
- Digestive: Heartburn, esophageal spasm, hiatal hernia, achalasia, etc.
- Musculoskeletal: Costochondritis, sore muscle, pinched nerves.
- Psychiatric: Anxiety, depressed, panic disorder, etc.
Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest.
- A burning sensation behind your breastbone.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Pain that gets better or worse when you change your body position.
- Pain that intensifies when you breathe deeply or cough.
- Tenderness when you push on your chest.
- Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms, especially your left arm.
- Shortness of breath.
Initial diagnosis include complete physical exam, which include:
- Heart rate.
- Pulse rate.
- Respiratory rate.
Tests you may have to determine the cause of your chest pain include:
- Blood tests.
- Chest X-ray.
- Stress tests.
- CT scan.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Before treatment can begin, the cause of the pain must be found. There is a range of tests and treatments you may need while in the emergency department.
Bed rest - to reduce the heart's workload.
- Oxygen therapy to reduce the stress on the heart and supplement the blood with oxygen.
For chest pain caused by strained muscles, ligaments or a fractured rib:
Use pain relievers.
- Rest and protect an injured or sore area. Stop, change or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
- Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Mentholated creams such as Ben-Gay or IcyHot may soothe sore muscles.
- Avoid any activity that strains the chest area.
Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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