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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Random tight and stabbing chest pains

 MarkWood87 - Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:33 am

Every now and again I will get a sharp pain in my chest, usually in the middle-left area of my chest. It will last at most 15/20 seconds, but usually it's just a few seconds, with one stabbing pain feeling occuring. When it happens it's usually me breathing in that brought on the pain. What I mean by this is that the pain will occur just as I'm taking a breath in, I don't think I've ever felt the pain on exhaling breath. The pain will also feel quite constricting and give quite a tight feeling round my chest. When the pain lasts for more than a few seconds, I get the same stabbing feeling usually each time i take a breath in, making breathing feel quite hard and discomforting. I should also note that during each subsequent breath, the pain will lessen slightly until it's gone.

I have been experiencing this pain on and off for about 13 years now, as I'm fairly sure it started when I was seven. The first time I had it was when it's ever been the most painful, as I remember having the pain constantly for atleast half an hour, with the same stabbing feeling in my chest whenever I inhaled, just alot more painful and with the inability to control the pain as much buy not breathing in as deep, i.e. the pain was constantly there, with breathing making it more excrutiating. One of the things I remember about this incident was me on the floor screaming in pain. It died down a bit after half an hour or so, but was still there so I was taken to hospital where they looked after me over night, but I'm fairly sure they didn't fully diagnose it. I think the best they could come up with was that it was a viral infection.

Since then I've had 'attacks' on average about once a month. There really doesn't seem to be anything that connects them, I'll just be going about my day doing whatever and suddenly I'll just get a pang in my chest, with it going away shortly after. Just as an example, the last time I had it was three days ago just after I woke up. I was just lying in my bed when it happened, but I've had it sitting down, standing, walking, running, it does just seem to be random and not brought on by anything.

I have spoken to a doctor about it before last year, as at the time I had been getting the pain about once or twice at most a day for just over a week and was slightly worried about it. As it seems to go away quite quickly it's never really worried me too much. The doctor couldn't really see what was causing it. I think she said that she'd heard of other cases like myself in young men, and it was a bit of a phenomenon in that the cause of the chest pain wasn't really known.
I don't have any family medical history of chest problems, and I've always been quite fit and healthly. My chest pains don't concern me too much, but I am quite interested to hopefully find out one day what is causing them, so any help you can give me with this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.
 Alexandra C, RN - Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:34 pm

Hello MarkWood87,

The symptoms you describe sound very much like something called "precordial catch syndrome". This is a benign and fairly common complaint amongst children and teenagers and can persist into adulthood. The cause is unknown, it might be related to a pinched or compressed nerve, but it does not seem to be cardiac in origin and is thought to be harmless. Some people find that forcing oneself to take a very deep breath may alleviate the pain, though it may be painful to take that very deep breath. Anxiety can also cause chest pain, as well as disorders of the respiratory and cardiac systems of course, but the symptoms you describe sound unlikely to be of a serious respiratory or cardiac nature. I hope this is helpful to you.
 MarkWood87 - Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:27 am

Thank you for your reply. Your description of alleviating the pain through taking a deep breath is quite accurate, as sometimes I do find that if i carefully take a deep, slow breath, although it can be a bit painful, it will help get rid of the pain. Once again thank you for your reply, you have been most helpful.

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