Chest Pain- Right Side and Left Side

One common symptom for which adults consult medical practitioners is chest pain. Chest pain is the discomfort or pain originating in your chest and nearby area. It can be severe or mild in nature. Chest pain can happen on the left side, right side or the center of your chest. In some cases, the pain even radiates to the jaws, neck, arms, shoulders, and back. It can either be consistent or appear chronically, the pain which comes and goes.

It can range from dull aching pain to sharp or severe pain. Chest pain can also appear in other forms such as squeezing or tightness of the chest, heaviness, burning sensation, tearing, pressure, crushing or even slight discomfort near the chest. Chest pain is something not to be taken lightly, it can indicate a life-threatening issue.

Left Side Chest Pain – Causes and Diseases

Chest pain on the left side often worries people. Because the heart is located and positioned on the left side, this pain is usually feared as some sort of cardiac event. Though it is not the case every time, chest pain is something not to ignore. There are various reasons behind chest pain on the left side, some can be mild whereas others can be life-threatening. Here are some prime causes of chest pain on the left side:

1. Anxiety

Anxiety, a stressful period, and a panic attack might often emerge as a pain on the left side or in the middle of your chest. Anxiety often increases the heart rate and cause heaviness, discomfort or pain in the chest.

2. Costochondritis

This is a condition when inflammation occurs around the cartilages near the ribs, and this causes pain on the chest’s left side. Costochondritis can occur because of everyday activities like falls or accidents, vomiting, excessive cough, pulling of chest muscles during sports activities or strenuous exercises, and chest hitting an inflated airbag during a car accident.

3. Intercostal Neuralgia

This condition refers to a nerve damage in the chest area. It can cause pain on either the left or right side of the chest. Nerve damage usually happens because of rib injury, shingles, or rib cage’s surgery.

4. Muscle Strain

A muscle strain on the left side of the chest area is often mistaken as a cardiac problem or a heart attack. Muscle strain can be because of improper positions or techniques while exercising, strenuous weight lifting, uncomfortable sleep position, falls, car accidents or other mishaps.

Some other conditions and diseases such as Bronchitis, Peptic Ulcers, Pleuritis, Pulmonary embolism, Myocarditis, Rib fracture, Angina pectoris, etc. also lead to chest pain on the left side.

Right Side Chest Pain – Causes and Diseases

There can be several reasons behind the right side chest pain, a little relief is that in maximum cases, this is not related to a heart attack. The right side of the human chest is also home to various other tissues and organs which when injured or inflamed, cause pain. Here are some major causes of chest pain on the right side:

1. Anxiety

Similar to the left side, anxiety is the biggest cause of chest pain in the right side also. Extreme stress leads to a panic attack and causes pain in the chest’s right side. During panic attacks, people breathe rapidly and deeply putting more pressure on the chest wall muscles. This causes pain on either side of the chest.

2. Muscle Strain

This also is a common cause of chest pain on both the sides. It is usually caused by overuse of chest muscles or any trauma. Chest muscles are usually strained during an intense activity involving upper part of the body such as sports, chopping wood, painting a ceiling, or some other strenuous activity.

3. Heartburn

Have you ever felt a burning sensation in your chest? It is heartburn and it usually happens after eating, working out, bending over, or while lying down. Acid reflux is behind this heartburn and it happens when your stomach’s acid comes upwards in your esophagus. Along with chest pain on your right side, you may feel throat’s burning sensation, difficulty in swallowing, and you feel as if something is stuck in your throat.

4. Cholecystitis

It is the inflammation of the gallbladder and happens during bile buildup in the gallbladder. Cholecystitis does not cause pain in the chest, though you may feel like it. During gallbladder inflammation, there is intense pain in the upper right side of the abdomen which can rise up to right shoulder or back.

Some other conditions and diseases such as blunt trauma, indigestion, costochondritis, pancreatitis, shingles, pleurisy, pneumonia, pneumothorax, cardiac inflammation, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary embolism also lead to right side chest pain.

Chest Pain in the Middle

Chest pain in the middle often indicates cardiac problems which might have severe implications. However, central chest pain is caused by a number of reasons not related to the great blood vessel or the heartbut can be equally severe. When the central chest painoccurs in combination with difficulty in breathing, fainting, and dizziness, it is a medical emergency and one should immediately seek medical attention. Other additional conditions such as pain radiating towards the left arm and unnecessary sweating along with chest pain in the middle also need immediate medical attention. The body structures responsible for the pain in the central part of the chest are:

  • Sternum (breastbone)
  • Heart
  • A portion of the great blood vessels
  • Esophagus
  • Bronchi and trachea
  • Thoracic Spine

Though the pain in the middle of the chest is because of these structures, it can easily radiate or transfer to other regions also. For example, the epigastric region (the upper-middle area of the abdomen). The concerned signs and symptoms hold great value while assessing the potential causes of chest pain in the middle.

Chest Pain while Breathing

There are many people who complain about chest pain while breathing. This indicates that the level of oxygen is quite low in the body. People who are weak or suffer from some chronic disease breathe twice or thrice more than the normal. They breathe rapidly and deeply, this over-breathing leads to decreased oxygenation of the heart, brain, and other important organs. The result is that most of these people feel chest pain while breathing.

The chest pain because of deep inhaling can also happen during or after workouts, while sleeping, after the meals, because of stress, etc. In some rare cases, pain in the chest while breathing can also occur because of a pinched nerve. The basis of this problem lies in the spine.

It is seen that more than 80 percent of the cases get immediate relief in chest pain by doing some simple breathing exercises which move more oxygen to your heart and other tissues. The remaining 20 percent cases need medical attention because their chest pain while breathing has some underlying cause.

A person can get chest pain on any side. There are different causes of a chest pain and awareness about them is always beneficial. Whatever be the cause of the pain in your chest, don’t take it lightly. After reading this article, you know what can be the possible causes of pain in different areas of your chest. So, never take a chest pain lightly and consult a medical practitioner.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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