Sharp Chest Pain
What would you think if you were curled up in your favorite chair reading a book and you suddenly experienced a sharp pain in your chest?
If you are like many people, you might fear that your sharp chest pain is caused by a heart attack, especially if the pain comes on suddenly.
However, there are many different causes of sharp chest pain, and cardiac arrest is usually not one of them.
The American Heart Association notes that the chest pain that generally causes heart attacks is a painful pressure or a “squeezing” chest pain, not a sharp chest pain. You can find the warning signs for a heart attack by visiting The American Heart Association’s website at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/.
So if you experience sharp chest pain, remember that there are a variety of possible causes for it, and that it probably does not mean you are having a heart attack.
Another fear some people experiencing sharp chest pain have is that it is caused by angina, a condition where the heart muscle spasms due to lack of oxygen. Angina is often connected to physical exertion.
However, Jeffrey Larson writes that the chest pain experienced from angina is an uncomfortable pressure instead of a sharp, stabbing pain.
Some people who experience esophageal spasms, sharp chest pains caused by nerve malfunctions in the esophagus, fear the pain is caused by angina (especially if the pain occurs during a workout or physical activity).
The Irish Times notes that the sharp chest pain of esophageal spasms can be felt under the breastbone and that they can also cause difficulty swallowing. Certain foods and beverages or temperatures of food sometimes trigger esophageal spasms, but they can occur at any time.
Costochondritis, sometimes called slipping rib syndrome, is another cause of sharp chest pain. Judith Sims writes that when the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed and tender causing sharp chest pain, that is costochondritis.
However, the causes of costochondritis are not fully understood. Costochondritis could be the result of an injury, a recurrent minor trauma, or unusually excessive physical activities.
Have you been to the doctor for a sharp chest pain and after extensive testing had the doctor say you are experiencing “undiagnosed chest pain?” Undiagnosed chest pain is chest pain the doctors were unable to find a cause for so they say the problem is “undiagnosed chest pain.”
Dr. Gifford Jones writes that Tietze Syndrome may be the cause of undiagnosed chest pain. The sharp chest pain of Tietze Syndrome is similar to that of costochondritis. Judith Sims reports that the main difference between Tietze Syndrome and costochondritis is that Tietze Syndrome is caused by inflamed cartilage, but the area will also swell.
The sharp chest pain from both costochondritis and Teitze Syndrome can increase with bad posture and prolonged sitting.
These are a few possible causes for your sharp chest pain. If you are experiencing chest pain, or if a previously diagnosed condition has become worse, you should seek medical attention to find out the cause and so that you can begin treatment.
Gifford-Jones, W. “The Doctor Game.” The Globe and Mail. 23 Aug 1984. LexisNexis. 20 May 2011.
Larson, Jeffrey. “Angina.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. 3rd ed. Vol 1. 2006. 206-208. Web. 7 July 2011.
“A Short, Sharp Chest Shock.” The Irish Times. 25 Mar 2008. Health:16. Lexis Nexis. Web 27 June 2011.
Sims, Judith. “Costochondritis.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. 1036-1037. Web. 19 June 2011.
Siwek, Jay. “The Jaw and the Heart.” The Washington Post. 25 Aug 1998 Final Ed. Lexis Nexis. Web 27 June 2011
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. American Heart Assoc., 13 Jun 2011. Web. 30 June 2011.