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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: 24yr, sharp pain (upper center) only when running

 Mauling Kitty - Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:22 pm

I am a healthy 24 year old who works out regularly, is at a normal body weight, and always been active. I know of no family diseases related to this issue.

ONLY when I jog or run, I experience a very sharp pain in my center, upper chest a few inches below the bottom of my neck. I have had this problem since childhood. In high school, I was in prime shape and played soccer, but had very poor endurance comparatively. Even in prime shape, I could barely run a mile without being extremely out of breath. I would have to take rests because of the pain. I had an EKG done, and it showed nothing.

The problem does not happen while doing cardio on an elliptical machine or playing sports such as raquetball. It only happens when I run, which now prevents me from running. I assume I have a small lung capacity, but what would cause the extreme pain?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:49 pm

User avatar Hi there-

Given that you tolerate stationary aerobic exercise well, it would seem this pain is probably due to some anatomical anomaly. It probably isn't heart-related, and there are ways to make certain of this. For instance, if you can press on the area with two fingers and find this elicits pain or tenderness, then you probably have some chronic inflammation of connective tissue in the area. However, since you've had this problem all your life, this probably isn't the case.

Now then: pain that is highly localized and is described as "sharp" is rarely heart-related. In your case, however, you'd want to find out just what causes this pain, and a chest x-ray and possibly an echocardiogram wouldn't be too much to ask. If these both turn out normal, then you may be experiencing some sort of gastroesophageal reflux-related problem. The pain clearly is related to the up-and-down movement involved in running (the bouncing, which is causing something to hurt). This is probably not serious, but some obscure conditions should be ruled out or at least found out. Once you know nothing is out of place (and I am thinking perhaps a skeletal abnormality or perhaps reflux causing esophageal spasm during the act of running), you can either relax about it or treat it as appropriate.

I think you either have an anatomical abnormality (which may be acceptable or may benefit from correction) or are having upper GI problems aggravated, in either case by the bouncing motion of running/jogging. If your heart were abnormal in some way, you'd very likely experience symptoms even during stationary aerobic workouts.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck with this, and please keep us updated, especially as to what you may learn from an exam targeting this symptom.

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