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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Chest Pain

Chest Pain

Alternate Names : Thoracic Pain, Chest Wall Pain

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

The chest is the area where the heart and lungs are located. These organs are protected by the rib cage and breastbone. Many different conditions can cause pain in the chest.

What is going on in the body?

Chest pain is a common complaint. In adults, it is often a cause for concern because it can signal a heart attack. However, many conditions ranging from a pulled muscle to pneumonia can also cause chest pain.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The are many different causes for chest pain. These include:

  • heart pain. This may be due to stable angina, unstable angina or a heart attack. It also may be caused by myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, which is inflammation of the membranes lining the heart.
  • muscle strain in the chest. This can be brought on by lifting weights or other heavy items.
  • injury to the chest
  • bone or joint inflammation. This may include arthritis of the shoulder or spine, spinal disc problems in the neck, or costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs.
  • damage, irritation or inflammation of the lungs. This may be caused by acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy, lung cancer, or a punctured or ruptured lung.
  • blood vessel-related pain. This may be caused by aortic dissection or a blood clot known as a pulmonary embolus.
  • gastrointestinal pain. This may be caused by peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux, gas pockets, irritable bowel syndrome, esophageal spasm, achalasia, or a tear or ulcer in the esophagus.
  • irritation of other organs in the abdomen. This may include gallbladder pain from cholecystitis, or pancreatitis.
  • herpes zoster. This is a viral infection of the central nervous system. It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox.
  • emotional or psychological conditions such as anxiety and panic disorders
  • Other causes are also possible. In some cases, the cause is never found.


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    Chest Pain: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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