I have the sharp pain at times too. I have seen a dr. several times and my heart is fine. I just recently found this information online-
Do you ever get a piercing pain in your chest, usually on your left side under your rib, which almost feels like a bubble ready to burst?
It causes you to catch your breath, and you try not to breathe in or breathe out too much because it's extremely painful either way. You take short, staggered breaths and try not to move. Finally, you work up the courage to take a sharp inhale or exhale. You feel a sensation similar to a bubble bursting and the pain is gone.
What is this strange sensation that is so painful and uncomfortable? It is actually a very common condition and most people have experienced it. The medical term for this occurrence is Precordial Catch Syndrome.
Many people mistakenly believe that they are having a heart attack at the onset of this type of pain. While the pain is strong and located in an area that would seem like the heart, this condition is not a heart attack, nor is it heart related.
Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS) is the most common cause of recurring chest pain. It is also sometimes known as "a stitch in the side" or "Texidor's twinge". It occurs most often in children and teenagers, but does persist into adulthood as well. The pain occurs just under the left nipple, near where you feel the heart beat most strongly on the front of the chest, and comes on very suddenly.
This extremely sharp pain causes a person to not want to move or breathe. This is where the "catch" part of the name is derived. Any movement or breathing only seems to intensify the pain. The pain usually lasts for around 30 seconds to 1 minute before disappearing. Sometimes the pain will suddenly disappear upon taking a strong breath or moving suddenly as well. This can almost feel like a pop of an imaginary bubble. After the pain is gone, there is usually a dull ache that lingers.
These onsets of pain can occur frequently, sometimes several times a day, and can occur when exercising, resting, or when in virtually any other state. Doctors have not been able to correlate PCS with any particular triggers, such as heavy activity or the like. However, there are some doctors that believe things like heavy or irregular breathing or even posture could play some type of role in bringing about an episode of PCS.
At this time, doctors and researchers do not know what causes the pain associated with PCS. The most accepted theory is that the pain is the result of a pinched nerve somewhere. Due to the fact that the onsets of PCS are so quick and disappear just as quickly, it's hard for doctors to actually see the condition in action.
While doctors aren't sure of the actual causes, they are sure that it poses no danger. They believe it to be a completely benign condition and is most certainly not cause for alarm. For this reason, there is not a lot of information or studies regarding the physical cause of PCS available. Doctors feel no need to intensify study of something they know to be only a minor inconvenience.
The only real worry is that sometimes, what seemed like PCS, could possibly turn out to be something more serious. The following are signs of more concerning illness:
- Chest pain that extends into the left side of the jaw or arm
- Chest pain that a person describes as a "heavy" feeling
- Pain that does not improve at least a little after 24 hours of regular doses of ibuprofen
- Cough, especially a cough that produces phlegm ("flem," or "flame")
- Extreme anxiety with the pain or a feeling of "impending doom"
- Blueness or paleness of the lips or fingernails
- An irregular, rapid, or pounding heart rate
- Marked difficulty breathing or catching one's breath (different from mild pain with breathing)
If any of these occur, please be sure to call your doctor's office right away. These could be indications of a more serious and potentially threatening condition.
People experiencing PCS need no particular treatment at all. Usually, just the reassurance that they aren't having something dangerous happening is all that they need to hear to set their minds at ease. PCS should not interfere with normal activity, and there's no reason to use any form of medication.
If you are experiencing PCS, it may be worth a visit to the doctor just to go over the symptoms to be sure that it is not a different condition that could be more serious. Doctors can easily tell the difference between a serious heart condition and Precordial Catch Syndrome just by talking with the patient, and doing a physical examination.
In the meantime, you can rest assured that your extremely painful, stabbing feeling is completely normal and only a minor inconvenience. And remember, the key to getting rid of the pain quickly is to just work up the courage to take that deep breath, scream in pain, and be done with it.
- Precordial Catch Syndrome at Pediatric Planet
- Chest Pain at About Kids Health
- Chronic Abdominal and Chest Pains at Postgraduate Medicine
- What Causes Chronic Chest Pain at Pediatric Education
- Some People's Experiences with this chest pain at Med Help International
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Costochondritis is another very common form of chest pain with similar symptoms resulting from soreness of the joints between the ribs, breastbone, and sternum. The pain and soreness typically last longer than that of PCS and have more clearly defined causes and triggers. With adults, the symptoms are pretty similar to that of heart conditions and a person experiencing them should consult with their doctor to make sure that it isn't something more serious. Learn more about Costochondritis at EMedicineHealth.com (Thanks Jake)