Medical Specialty >> Cardiology

Doctors Lounge - Cardiology Answers

Back to Cardiology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Differentiating Between Palpitations And Muscle Spasms

 MRROBP - Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:04 pm

I was just wondering if it's possible to tell the difference between chest muscle spasms and palpitations, without various tests and such? I have been having some sensations in my chest that I would classify as one or the other, but I'm not sure which it is. I'm not sure if the sensations can be classified as palpitations, as I've always thought that palpitations are what happens when the heart rate is extremely fast. That isn't what I'm experiencing though. At least not continuously.

These sensations are strong, and basically feel like something is spasming in my chest--I really don't know how else to describe it. Earlier I stated that I don't have a fast heart beat continuously when these sensation occurs. I don't know if this is my heart or muscles. But when they happen, the sensations are fast in quality. Basically I'd say they feel like someone is squeezing me, but doing squeezing faster than normal for several seconds in a row. If that makes any sense? They occur on the inner side of my left pec/breast, and are accompanied by pain from time to time. I have also been having similar sensations in the right side of my neck, in the lower part near where the neck and upper chest meet.

These sensations are not brought on, worsened, or alleviated by rest, activity, or sitting/laying/standing in various positions. They just happen out of the blue, regardless of the situation. I'm not overly concerned about them being related to anything serious. But the fact that it's been happening for a while now is becoming bothersome. I'm hoping to avoid a dr's trip, but will do so if advised. Therefore, any advice and insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any time and help on this matter.
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:49 pm

User avatar Dear Guest,

Palpitation means awareness of heart beats whether slow, fast, of normal speed, regular or irregular.

i can't (and i think no else for that matter) say whether or not what you are feeling are palpitations or not unless you say so, except if you are being physically examined at the time you feel this sensation and it coincides with simultaneous pulse changes.

i think you need to be seen by your doctor.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D
 MRROBP - Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:25 pm

Thanks for the reply.

In your response, you stated that you can't say whether these are palpitations or not "except if you are being physically examined at the time you feel this sensation and it coincides with simultaneous pulse changes." But what if I'm not having the sensations while being examined?

Also, can palpitations be felt in the area of the neck I stated in the previous post--on the lower right side?
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:54 pm

User avatar Dear Guest,

Thank you very much for the update.

If you are not having the palpitations while you are being examined, your doctor might not find anything abnormal with the pulse, or he/she can find abnormal pulse and yet you are not feeling it which is very common.

Palpitations can be felt in the neck as two of the major blood vessels coming out of the aorta pass through the neck and these are the carotid arteries. So, if you have palpitations strong enough, they can be transmitted to the neck to the carotids. i can not say whether or not you can specifically feel it in the right lower side.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D
 MRROBP - Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:15 pm

Thank you yet again for the reply, Dr. Mokhtar. I just have a few more questions, for which I apologize for being so inquisitive.

The part about feeling palpitations in the neck is quite interesting. I figured they would be confined to the area of the heart. Regarding that though, is it possible to feel these sensations independent of each other--meaning if these are indeed palpitations that I've been having, can I feel them in my chest and not in my neck, and then feel them in my neck and not in my chest? I honestly can't remember ever feeling these sensations in both my neck and chest simultaneously. I doubt that helps shed any light on what these sensations are, but I figured it can't hurt to add that.

I will make an appointment tomorrow with my doctor to see him, or visit a local walk-in clinic that I have been to before. Thanks again.

 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:34 pm

User avatar Dear Rob,

Thank you very much for the update.

Remember that the defintion of palpitations is to feel the heart beats. If you feel it somewhere else without feeling the palpitations at the heart, i would not call it palpitations.

i think that either sensation can be felt separately or combined.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us