- Inflammation/Infections or injuries to your chest wall
Anxiety/Panic attack. If you experience periods of intense fear accompanied by chest pain, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), profuse sweating and shortness of breath, you may be experiencing a panic attack — a form of anxiety.
Shingles. This infection of the nerves caused by the chickenpox virus can produce pain and a band of blisters from your back around to your chest wall.
Cancer. Rarely, cancer involving the chest or a cancer that has spread from another part of the body can cause chest pain.
- Costochondritis. In this condition — also known as Tietze syndrome if there is local swelling — the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed. The result is chest pain, often worsened when you push on your sternum or on the ribs near your sternum. Most cases of costochondritis have no apparent cause. In these cases, treatment focuses on easing your pain while you wait for costochondritis to improve on its own.
- Symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness in the locations where your ribs attach to your breastbone (costosternal joints)
- Often sharp pain, though also dull and gnawing pain
- Location often on left side of breastbone, but possible on either side of chest
- Other costochondritis symptoms may include:
- Pain when taking deep breaths
- Pain when coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Costochondritis pain is often mistaken for heart attack pain. The pain of a heart attack is often more widespread, while costochondritis pain is focused on a small area. Heart attack pain usually feels as if it’s coming from under your breastbone, while costochondritis pain seems to come from the breastbone itself. Heart attack pain may worsen with physical activity or stress, while the pain of costochondritis remains constant.
Sore muscles. Chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, can produce persistent muscle-related chest pain.
Injured ribs or pinched nerves. A bruised or broken rib, as well as a pinched nerve, can cause chest pain.
Psychological causes of chest pain are common and include panic attacks, anxiety, stress and mental duress. Some physical discomforts that can be triggered by anxiety include:
- chest pain
- choking sensation
- excessive sweating
- nausea or abdominal distress
- dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- unexplainable chills or hot flushes.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering skin rash due to the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. The first symptom is usually one-sided pain, tingling, or burning. The pain and burning may be severe and is usually present before any rash appears. Red patches on the skin, followed by small blisters, form in most people.
- The blisters break, forming small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts. The crusts fall off in 2 to 3 weeks. Scarring is rare.
- The rash usually involves a narrow area from the spine around to the front of the belly area or chest.
- The rash may involve face, eyes, mouth, and ears.
Tumors of the chest wall include those that grow on the ribs and sternum. These can be both malignant (cancerous) and benign. However, malignant tumors of the chest wall are rare; about five percent are found to be cancerous.
Symptoms may include:
- chest pain
- lumps in the chest