There are different types of right chest pain and it can be difficult to determine what the cause of the pain actually is. Sometimes, even locating the pain precisely can be a challenge since it can manifest either as a stabbing pain or a burning sensation around the chest area. Keep reading for a few different causes of right chest pain.
Some possible causes include rib problems, lung issues leading to pleuritic chest pain, muscular issues such as those caused by pulled muscles, or heart problems.
The gallbladder is located along the right bottom of the chest by the liver, and it’s possible to feel right chest pain along that area. Dr. Miriam Stoppard notes that gallbladder pain is sometimes similar to angina (heart pain) or peptic acid pain (small intestine or stomach pain).
One common gallbladder problem is gallstones. Thomas Lynch describes gallstones as “small, pebble-like gritty deposits” that form from the bile the liver secretes to the gallbladder. Stones form if the liquid solidifies. They often pass naturally, but if they cause a blockage it will often result in pain. And if the blockage does not clear up on its own, it will become worse and require a medical procedure, possibly even the gallbladder’s removal. (These days, most gallbladder surgeries are done laparoscopically with only a small incision and a short recovery time.) The pain resulting from a gallstone problem can sometimes be felt along the right side of the chest.
Another type of pain, known as Costochondritis pain, can be experienced specifically on the right side of the chest. Per the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, this is described as inflammation and tenderness of the cartilage attached to the front of the ribs. The severe pain is usually felt on one side of the chest at a time, and can increase noticeably when sitting or lying down.
On the other hand, Costochondritis may sometimes be confused with Tietze Syndrome. There is, however, a significant differentiating symptom between the two conditions, which is that Tietze Syndrome also includes swelling. Dr. Gifford-Jones reports that Tietze’s syndrome is a common cause of undiagnosed chest pain.
Since sitting for a long time and bad posture can increase the pain for both costochondritis and Tietze Syndrome, be sure to sit up straight like your gym teacher told you to, and walk away from your computer on a regular basis (no matter how adorable that next kitten video looks!)
If you have right chest pain (or any type of chest pain), or if a chest pain you have already seen your doctor about has worsened or intensified, you should seek medical attention. While it’s true that many types of chest pain are not life threatening, your physician needs to make a thorough diagnosis to be sure.
“Costochondritis.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Vol. 2. 3rd ed. P 1036-1037. Web. 19 June 2011.
Gifford-Jones, W. “The Doctor Game.” The Globe and Mail. 23 Aug 1984. LexisNexis. 20 May 2011.
Kochar, Suneeta and Cornelius, Paul “Clinical – Respiratory – Spotting the Signs of Pneumothorax.” Independent Nurse. 2:32 (2009): 32. LexisNexis. Web. 7 June 2011.
Lynch, Thomas. “The Gritty Reality Behind Gallstones.” The Irish Times. 25 Aug 2009. Web. 20 June 2011.
Steefel, Lorraine. “Pneumothorax.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine 4. 3 ed. (2006). Web 14 June 2011.
Stoppard, Miriam. “Health Focus: When a Fry-Up is Agony: Gallstones.” The Mirror. 27 July 2000. Web. 20 June 2011.