Pain in your chest can manifest in several ways. It can make your chest feel squeezed or crushed, be sharp or dull and aching, and happen suddenly or build slowly. No matter how chest pain affects you, it’s natural to worry. After all, your heart is in your chest!
At Heart & Vascular Institute, with four Michigan locations, our highly trained providers know that chest pain can be scary. The important thing is to understand why you’re experiencing pain so we can address it.
In this post, we discuss common causes of chest pain and tests you might need if you’re having regular episodes of this pain.
Common causes of chest pain
Yes, your heart is in your chest, but it’s not the only possible cause of chest pain. Your lungs, esophagus, muscles, and other organs and tissues can all contribute to chest pain. Your chest encompasses the part of your body from the bottom of your neck to your upper abdomen.
Here are a few common sources of chest pain:
Although “heart problems” may be the first thing you think when you have chest pain, that’s not always the case. And, even if you’re experiencing an issue with your heart, it may not be a heart attack. Other heart conditions that cause chest pain include:
- Torn blood vessels around your heart
Parts of your digestive tract run through your chest, and sometimes chest pain is related to the organs and tissues involved in processing food into fuel. There’s a good reason people call acid reflux “heartburn.” Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain include:
- Heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Esophageal spasms
Your lungs are necessary for life, and when something goes wrong with them, chest pain is likely. Even common respiratory infections can cause chest pain. Here are a few common lung-related causes of chest pain:
- Viral bronchitis
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clot)
Your chest includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to support and protect your organs and allow you to move. Injuring a muscle can cause chest pain — and it isn’t always immediately clear that’s the cause. Other musculoskeletal causes of chest pain include:
- Bruised or broken ribs
- Strained muscles
- Nerve-related conditions like shingles
- Compression fractures
Along with the physical issues, anxiety can also lead to chest pain. Having a panic attack can be scary because it sometimes feels like something is seriously wrong. With an elevated heart rate and chest pain, you may think you’re having a heart attack.
Understanding the cause of your pain
There are many potential causes of chest pain, but a specialist can help you understand what’s happening. At Heart & Vascular Institute, you can expect a thorough physical examination, questions about your symptoms and medical history, and diagnostic tests.
Your provider may ask you to undergo imaging tests, such as an echocardiogram, or take a test to see how your heart behaves under stress. We order a comprehensive series of lab tests on your blood as well.
Once your provider has your test results, they can help you understand the cause of your pain and suggest an effective treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Chest pain can sometimes help you make positive changes to improve your health.
If you’re experiencing chest pain, schedule an appointment by phone or online at one of our convenient Heart & Vascular Institute locations. We’re always happy to answer your questions to help you improve your health.