What is Precordial Chest Pain?
A precordial chest pain is a type of chest pain that is felt on the left side of the chest. This pain may not mean anything but it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition [1, 2].
The precordium is the part of the body that is over the heart and the lower part of the chest. It is found on the left side of the chest and produces a dull sound upon percussion. If percussing the precordium produces a resonant sound, it may mean that the person has tension pneumothorax or emphysema [1, 2]. Figure 1 shows the location of the precordium.
Figure 1- The Precordium
The precordial chest pain
A precordial chest pain is a pain that is felt around the left side of the chest especially near the area of the nipple. The first occurrence of precordial chest pain was recorded in 1955. Although it may appear similar to the pain caused by a heart attack, this condition is harmless and non-threatening. Some individuals describe the pain to be sharp and intense but others may feel a dull and persistent pain.
Unlike the chest pain produced by a heart attack, the pain is localized in the chest and does not radiate to the arm. The onset is sudden and may only last for a few seconds to up to 30 minutes. There are cases in which an individual may feel a lingering ache may continue after the initial pain wears off. This condition is also known as precordial catch syndrome or PCS [1, 2, 3, 4].
A majority of the incidences of precordial chest pain occur when the individual is inactive or in a resting state. Some people may experience this pain when they are sitting, lying down or suddenly changing their position.
The frequency of how often the pain may be felt varies from every individual. Some may experience it a number of times in a single day but there are those who may have precordial chest pain once or twice in a single month [1, 2, 3, 4].
Although the exact cause of precordial chest pain, it is thought to be resulting from a slight compression of the nerve and a spasm of the muscle fibers in the intercostal spaces in the chest wall. The chest pain typically subsides once the muscles that were affected are relaxed. Some factors that are considered to take a part in the development of precordial chest pain are stress, anxiety and poor posture [1, 2, 3, 4].
One of the other symptoms that may be felt with precordial chest pain is a feeling of cracking or popping in the chest whenever a person inhales or exhales. Some may even report of feeling a tearing sensation whenever they try to breathe deeply.
The feeling may last from a few seconds to up to 30 minutes, although the majority of these only last for a few minutes. Other symptoms that may be experienced includes paleness, dizziness, facial flushing, blurry vision, temporary loss of vision, heart palpitations, “pins and needles” sensation in the skin, difficulty in breathing and even a temporary loss of consciousness [1, 2, 3, 4].
The characteristics of a precordial chest pain are similar to that of a heart attack so it is important to properly diagnose this condition to provide reassurance to the patient. An accurate description of the pain is essential in the medical history of the patient.
A physical examination will also be performed to identify any other symptoms that may be present in the patient. Additional laboratory test like an electrocardiography may be requested to identify any changes in the cardiac status of the patient [1, 2, 3, 4].
The use of medications in the management of a precordial chest pain is ineffective because of the duration of the pain. The pain can be managed by breathing lightly while lying down with the face down on the bed.
If the pain is caused by a muscle spasm, taking several deep breaths will be able to relieve the pain. It is essential to report any chest pain to the physician for an evaluation and to differentiate it from a true heart attack [1, 2, 3, 4].
The occurrence of a precordial chest pain is more frequent in individuals who have a sedentary or inactive lifestyle. It can be minimized by exercising or engaging in sports. Stress and anxiety are also known to contribute to this condition. Minimizing stress by performing relaxing activities will be beneficial in preventing precordial chest pain [1, 2, 3, 4].
- Med Mum. (2016). Precordial Pain. Retrieved from Med Mum: http://medmum.com/precordial-pain/
- Safe Symptoms. (2016). PRECORDIAL CHEST PAIN. Retrieved from Safe Symptoms: https://safesymptoms.com/precordial-chest-pain/
- Cardio World Today. (2016). What is actually precordial pain, how do you define the indications, the way to treat, which are causes of precordial pain? Retrieved from Cardio World Today: https://cardioworldtoday.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/what-is-actually-precordial-pain-how-do-you-define-the-indications-the-way-to-treat-which-are-causes-of-precordial-pain/
- Food Pyramid. (2015). Precordial Catch Syndrome. Retrieved from Food Pyramid: http://www.foodpyramid.com/health-conditions-a-z/precordial-catch-syndrome/