7 Common Causes of Abdominal Pain

In today’s post we outline 7 common causes of Chest Pain. Chest pain is sometimes felt as a dull ache. But it can also be experienced as sharp, intense pain. The resulting discomfort may be isolated to your chest area, or it could extend to your jaw – or even into parts of one or both arms. Other symptoms may be involved as well.

Relatively minor digestive problems could very well be the source of your chest-related discomfort. However, there are plenty of serious issues that can cause similar symptoms. For this reason, discomfort in the chest area should always be taken seriously. Let’s go over our list of seven common causes of chest pain.

7 Common Causes of Chest Pain

1. Heart Attack

A heart attack is one of the common causes of chest pain that absolutely requires immediate medical attention. What’s also called a myocardial infarction (MI) is typically caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle, usually due to a blood clot. It can also be brought on by existing issues with heart disease.

Initially, you might feel sensations of pressure or tightness in your chest. You could also have burning sensations or pain that comes and goes or varies in intensity. Other symptoms associated with a heart attack include:

• Searing or sharp pain that extends to the back, neck, shoulders, and/or parts of the face
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Dizziness, weakness, and/or cold sweats
• Lightheadedness that comes on suddenly


2. Angina

Poor blood flow – specifically, a lack of oxygen-rich blood – to the heart is what causes angina. Angina can be classified as stable or unstable.

Stable angina tends to occur when your heart has to work harder than it normally does – like what might happen with strenuous exercise or when walking up a flight of stairs. Chest-related pain often goes away once your heart rate returns to normal.

Characterized by symptoms usually still noticeable even when at rest, unstable angina is considered a medical emergency because it may be associated with a heart attack. Both men and women may experience pain in the chest with angina. However, women may also have symptoms that include:

• Shortness of breath
• Abdominal pain
• Chest-related pain that’s stabbing rather than just a feeling of pressure


3. Pericarditis

If sac-like tissue around the heart becomes inflamed, it’s a condition called pericarditis. You may feel sharp pain in the chest area when you lay down or breathe if you have pericarditis.


4. Heartburn

Resulting from stomach acid backing up into your esophagus, heartburn may produce a burning sensation in the center of your chest. It’s sometimes accompanied by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which affects a ring of muscle located between the stomach and the esophagus.


5. Aortic Dissection

The aorta is a major artery that’s responsible for carrying blood out of the heart. If layers within the wall of this artery become torn, you have what’s referred to as an aortic dissection.

It’s a serious and potentially life-threatening problem that can result in sudden and severe pain in the chest and/or upper back area. Related symptoms may also include:

• Severe abdominal pain
• Tearing, ripping, or shearing sensations
• Leg pain or paralysis
• Shortness of breath
• Loss of consciousness


6. Gallbladder/Pancreas Issues

It’s not as unusual as you may think for gallstones to contribute to abdominal pain that extends upward to your chest. This can also happen if you have problems involving your pancreas. Pancreatitis, for instance, can contribute to lower chest pain that becomes more noticeable when you are laying down and less severe when you lean forward.


7. Injured Ribs 

Bruised or broken ribs are another possible source of chest-related pain that’s fairly common. Ribs that are irritated or fractured can produce strong pain in the chest area that’s especially worse when you breathe in. You may also notice the following symptoms:

• Swelling and tenderness in the affected area
• Spasms and/or twitching in your chest muscles
• Visible redness in the bruised/fractured area


Other Common Causes of Chest Pain

Some individuals also notice pain in the chest area when having a panic attack or because of underlying health issues like shingles, fibromyalgia, or pulmonary hypertension. Since you are likely not going to positively know what’s causing chest pain, it’s important to seek appropriate care from a health professional ASAP.

If chest-related pain is severe and accompanied by chest tightness, shortness of breath, and other potentially life-threatening symptoms, call 911 for immediate assistance. Even if pain in your chest turns out to be a minor issue, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

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