The part of the body that sits over the heart in the lower part of the chest is known as the precordium.
Thus, precordial chest pain is when you have pain in this area. The pain can manifest itself as a sharp, stabbing-like feeling.
This can occur sporadically or be chronic. In this article, we’ll talk about what might be causing it.
Precordial Chest Pain – What to Know
There are many diseases and ailments that can lead to precordial chest pain.
One possibility is pericarditis. This is when the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart, becomes inflamed.
Many experts believe that it’s most commonly caused by a viral infection.
The pain from pericarditis can cause pain in the left side of your chest, particularly around the nipple area. In some people, it can be worsened by movement.
Precordial Pain vs. Heart Attack Pain
Distinguishing between precordial pain and heart attack pain can be tricky.
Fortunately, there are ways to tell them apart. In general, heart attack pain usually isn’t localized.
It will often manifest itself in the left shoulder, jaw, and chest area. Precordial chest pain, on the other hand, is localized.
In people who have it, the pain is usually in one specific spot. It may even get worse then they breath in or out.
The stabbing pain can be so bad that it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else.
How Long Does Precordial Pain Last?
It differs from person to person. In some people, the pain only lasts for 30 seconds.
In others, it can last up to 30 minutes. People experiencing this symptom will often take shallower breathes to reduce their pain.
This may or may not help. While this pain can be intense, it usually doesn’t lead to complications.
The exception is if it’s due to pericarditis. In this case, medical intervention may be required.
In some people, a dull, lingering pain can develop after the acute precordial chest pain has gone.
Sitting or Standing – Which is Better for Pain?
Unfortunately, there’s no “ideal position” for people experiencing this symptom.
The pain tends to be just as bad whether you’re standing up, sitting, or laying down.
Typically, the pain will worsen when you make sudden movements. So, if you’re currently in pain, try to refrain from doing that.
Another possibility for the pain is that you have a chest muscle that’s cramping up.
In this case, it might be a good idea to drink some water and eat a banana (you might be dehydrated).
Other Potential Causes
Another possibility for precordial chest pain is nerve compression.
There are many nerves that run around the heart and chest wall. If any of these nerves become compressed, it can send a pain signal to the brain.
In most cases, pinched nerves go away on their own. How long exactly? It depends on the degree of the nerve compression.
A lightly compressed nerve is going to heal faster than a nerve that’s compressed more tightly.
If it doesn’t go away within a reasonable time, then you’ll want to schedule a visit with your doctor.
Is it Life-Threatening?
In general, no. But obviously, we don’t know your exact symptoms so we can’t say for sure.
Precordial pain is often referred to as “stitch in the side”. It often tricks people into believing they are having a heart attack.
If you’re young and active, the chances are low that you’re having a heart attack. Though, there’s always a slight chance.
However, if you’re older, and you have high blood pressure, then a heart attack is more likely.
In that case, you should visit a hospital to rule out a heart attack (better to be safe than sorry!).
Symptoms That May Accompany Precordial Pain
Here are some other symptoms that may accompany your precordial pain:
- Increased pain when breathing
- Pain with movement
- Cracking sounds coming from the chest
- Popping sounds
- A “tearing” sensation in the chest
These are all symptoms that have been reported by people who’ve suffered from this.
Note, if you’re having jaw or shoulder pain, then it might be a heart attack. In this case, get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
You might also experience a tingling sensation on the skin, dizziness, and facial flushing.
More extreme symptoms that require medical intervention are atrial fibrillation and loss of consciousness.
The good news is that precordial chest pain will usually go away on its own within 30 minutes or so. In some people, it can be longer, and in others, shorter.
In many cases, just “waiting it out” is good enough. Just make sure that you keep an eye out for the more serious symptoms mentioned above.
As a rule of thumb, take all chest pain seriously. We don’t know your exact symptoms so we can’t say for sure what you have.
Our best advice would be to not take any chances. If the pain is extreme, and it isn’t going away, get to a hospital. That way you can rule out something serious like a heart attack.