Ever have a sharp piercing pain in your chest, usually on the left side under the rib? It causes you to catch your breath, and because of it, you try not to breathe in too much because it’s painful. So you take short breaths and try not to move much. You eventually work up the courage to take a deep breath then you feel a sensation akin to a bubble bursting and the pain is gone.
Many believe that they are having a heart attack when these symptoms occur. While the pain is strong and located in that general area, the condition is not a heart attack, nor is it heart related.
What is it?
It’s called Precordial Catch Syndrome ( or PCS for short) and it’s the most common cause of recurring chest pain. Luckily, it’s benign and most people have experienced it at one time or another in their life.
Doctors don’t really know what causes it however, but they believe it to be either related to a pinched nerve or from an intercostal muscle spasm and after release of spasm the pain relieved.
Is it dangerous?
While there is no known cure for PCS, PCS is also not believed to be dangerous. Though, what seems like PCS, could possibly turn out to be something more serious. Be on the lookout for these symptoms, as they indicate possibly something more:
- Chest pain that extends into the left side of the jaw or arm
- Chest pain that a person describes as a “heavy” feeling
- Pain that does not improve at least a little after 24 hours of regular doses of ibuprofen
- Cough, especially a cough that produces phlegm (“flem,” or “flame”)
- Extreme anxiety with the pain or a feeling of “impending doom”
- Blueness or paleness of the lips or fingernails
- An irregular, rapid, or pounding heart rate
- Marked difficulty breathing or catching one’s breath (different from mild pain with breathing)
Call your doctor’s office right away if any of these symptoms are present with your PCS. They could be indications of a more serious condition.
In the meantime, you can rest assured that the painful, stabbing feeling is completely normal and a minor inconvenience. Just remember, the key to getting rid of the pain quickly is to just work up the courage to take that deep breath.