Chest Wall Pain
Discomfort in the chest area doesn’t always mean it’s a heart attack. There are other possible reasons this can happen.
Causes of Chest Wall Pain
One of the most common reasons is irritation of the pleura, the membrane that shelters the lungs. The membrane is quite sensitive. The slightest irritation may cause severe pain. Exactly what brings this about is not yet clear.
Another potential cause is costochondritis. This affects the cartilage linked to the sternum. It may also cause pain in the ribs.
Other possible causes are overexertion. Pulling the chest muscles too hard can cause momentary pain. Another culprit is coughing. People afflicted with cancer can break a rib while coughing. Those with weak bones will also feel sharp pain when coughing.
Chest Wall Pain Symptoms
In the case of pleura irritation, there might be stabbing pain but it will be brief. Others feel a catch. This usually interferes with the breathing. It remains for a few seconds and dissipates. Sometimes the discomfort will come back every few minutes.
In the case of costochondritis, the cartilage may be soft to the touch. The discomfort level varies greatly. Some just feel a dull sensation while in others it is chronic. Sometimes arthritis can cause the pain as well.
Most of the time chest wall discomforts are not serious. But some signs are. This includes stinging pain when breathing and confined to one area. Another serious indicator is shortness of breath. Go to a doctor immediately.
Chest Wall Pain Diagnosis
Assessing your medical history is the first step. If it’s caused by pleura irritation, there’s no need to worry. This isn’t indicative of a heart attack. One way to check is set the finger on the sternum. If it produces the same pain, it’s not a stroke.
The doctor will also inquire about any stressful activities that you have done. A bump to the chest a few days ago may manifest pain days later. If the symptoms are serious, further tests will be conducted.
You’ll also be asked if you have pneumonia. This can cause discomfort as well. If the pain persists, more tests will be done to evaluate the cause.
Chest Wall Pain Relief
For pleura irritation, no medication is needed. It isn’t a serious condition. If strenuous activity is the cause, just rest. Excessive movement will make it worse. In a few minutes the pain will go away on its own. If the pain is caused by arthritis, pneumonia or other ailments, take medication to ease the hurt.
For other minor discomforts, hot or cold compresses will be sufficient. Applying it over the affected area should get rid of the pain. In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken.
If coughing is the cause, it will disappear when the cough dissipates. Other pain relievers are muscle relaxants and deep breathing exercises.
People will experience some form of chest wall pain at certain points. Most of the time it isn’t serious. With the right information, you’ll know how to cope with it without panicking.
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