Chest pain can be a very worrying symptom and rightly so! It has a number of different causes, the most concerning of which is heart disease. We therefore urge people who are experiencing chest pain to seek immediate medical care on the assumption that it is heart related. However, often this is not the case. In fact, heart disease only accounts for between roughly 8-18% of cases of it. The majority being down to more benign, and simple to treat conditions which tend to be referred to as “musculoskeletal chest pain”.
The chest (or thorax) is an important part of our body as it protects our vital organs such as our heart and plays an important role in our breathing. It is made up of the thoracic spine, twelve sets of ribs, the sternum (breast bone), and lots of muscles. All of these components which make up the thorax can become subject to injury or dysfunction usually resulting in chest pain. Common causes include sporting injuries and repetitive overuse injuries from simple things such as excessive coughing. Sometimes chest pain may arise for no obvious reason.
Listed below are some of the most common causes of benign chest pain.
The pectoral muscle is the large muscle which covers the front of your chest and the intercostal muscles are the smaller muscles which run in between each rib. Any stretches or tears to these muscle can result in chest pain. It can be caused by playing certain sports that require repetitive movements e.g. gymnastics, rowing and tennis, a contact injury from sports or car accidents. It can even be from excessive coughing due to a cold or other chest infection.
Rib sprain or fracture
Each rib attaches at the back to your spine and at the front to your breast bone. Just like any of other joint in your body, such as your ankle, you can sprain it. Ribs can also become fractured. Rib sprains and fractures are usually caused by an injury such as a fall or car accident. They can sometimes occur from just coughing!
Costochondritis occurs when the joints between your ribs and your breastbone become inflamed. There is uncertainty as to what causes these joints to become inflamed. It is thought to be caused by injuries to the chest, lifting heavy objects or following a chest infection.
Spinal facet joints
Issues with the joints of the spine in the mid-back can refer pain to the chest. This can be caused by our acts of daily living such as having poor posture and lifting incorrectly.
Chiropractors and Osteopaths have extensive training in the treatment and prevention of disorders affecting the muscles, nerves and joints in the body. Don’t suffer if you’re experiencing chest pain.. come and see one of the experts here at Back 2 Balance!