If you’re experiencing chest pain, your first move should be to get to the emergency room. If a heart attack has been ruled out, what could be the cause?
Chest pain can be the result of heartburn, but it could also be the result of joint pain. Costochondritis is often mistaken for a heart-related problem, and it is caused by inflammation in the tough, flexible connective tissue (cartilage) between the ribs and the breastbone. This area is known as the costosternal joints.
Causes of costochondritis include a blow to the chest, strenuous exercise, or heavy weightlifting. A respiratory or joint infection, severe coughing, and certain types of arthritis can also trigger it, but the cause is often unknown.
Symptoms are generally pain and tenderness in the chest, which can feel sharp or dull and gnawing. It will usually feel worse when taking a deep breath, coughing, or lying down. The chest may also feel tender and possibly swollen when pressed.
Rest and quiet breathing may offer some relief.
On the other hand, people tend to report heart attacks as uncomfortable squeezing, tightness, or pressure in the chest, sometimes with other variable symptoms.
Costochondritis usually goes away on its own, but it may last for several months or even up to a year. Taking OTC painkillers and applying creams or gels may help. Gentle stretching might help, too, as can using a heating or cooling pad on the area.
You also may need to avoid certain exercises that aggravate the pain, which may be disappointing for weight lifters or those who do cardio with a rowing machine.
Chest pain is undoubtedly scary and should never be ignored. The good thing is that it may not signify an issue with your heart and could just be some temporary joint pain.
As mentioned, always have chest pain immediately examined by a doctor.