Chest Pain Left Side – What You Need to Know
Chest pain is a common problem faced by many people today. However, when the chest pain is felt specifically on the left side, one gets alarmed and panic strikes. This is because many people associate this pain with a heart attack. However, it’s important to understand that left chest pain is always as a result of heart attack; there are many other factors that may lead this pain.
Chest pain can originate from the heart and other different components of your chest such muscles and bones. Pain from muscles results in a localized chest pain; this pain aggravates with touch or any form of activity. Below some health conditions that may lead to chest pain on the left side. Read on.
- Cardiac Ischemia
This is a condition whereby there is decreased blood flow to the heart. When there is inadequate oxygen-rich blood flow over a certain period, the heart muscles may get damaged. This will then affect the heart’s ability to pump blood to other body parts and therefore reduces its efficiency. This results to chest pain on the left side. Cardiac ischemia can lead to irregular heart rhythm, a heart attack and even heart failure.
- Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when coronary arteries of the heart get blocked. Basically, the heart works 24 hours each day, beating and pumping blood, without stopping. However, the heart muscles require a constant flow of blood rich in oxygen from the coronary arteries. A plaque buildup in your coronary arteries is what causes a heart attack. When the plague lining coronary arteries ruptures, it leads to the formation of a blood clot; this completely blocks the artery. The supply of blood to the heart muscles ceases.
In the absence of oxygen-rich blood, the muscle of the heart which depends on this artery for blood supply starts to collapse. If this time period exceeds 15 minutes, the tissues surrounding that area start to die. The nature of pain is similar to that experienced in ischemia; actually, a heart attack is the final outcome of prolonged ischemia. This pain does not remain confined to the left side of the chest, but moves to the left shoulder and neck, as well.
- Gas or Heartburn
Sometimes the gas generated in the stomach and the intestine may move upward pressing against the chest’s wall. This may cause breathing difficulties and tightening the wall of the chest, which will eventually result in pain on the left side of the chest. If heart attack symptoms such as rapid heart rate, palpitations, pale skin and sweating, are not experienced along with this pain, then this is an indication that the patient is suffering from gas chest pain, heartburn or acidity.
- Intercostal Neuralgia
In the chest cavity between your ribs, there are intercostal nerves. When an infection or trauma damages or injures these nerves, pain is experienced in the chest. According to sufferers, this pain is sharp, shooting and stabbing. The pain worsens as one coughs, laughs or sneezes. On touching the region between 2 ribs, you may experience tenderness and pain. Pain may also radiate from your chest all the way to your shoulder, and in severe cases it may even affect your back. Sometimes abdominal pain may also be experienced. Intercostal neuralgia is very difficult to diagnose, and in most cases, it goes undetected by x-rays. In many cases, intercostals neuralgia is suspected when an organic reason for this pain cannot be found.
- Stressful Lifestyle
One factor that severely obstructs myocardial function is stress. Many people, who endure stress all the time, often complain of some chest pain on the left side. However, a stressful life alone does not give way to a heart attack; nonetheless, stress may cause other health disorders which may eventually cause cardiac dysfunction. Diabetes and obesity, which are by-products of unhealthy plus sedentary lifestyle, may contribute to chest pain. Drinking and smoking may also impair the cardiac function to a large extent.
- Left Pectoral Strain
A pulled pectoral muscle may cause a dull chest pain. These muscles are situated on the right and left side of the chest. The muscles can be get strained by some strenuous exercises, especially in athletes and other people involved in contact sports. If a patient has a pulled or torn pectoral muscle in the left side of his/her chest, a sharp pain will be experienced on their left side of the chest. This pain may also radiate to the left shoulder and armpit; this gets worse during activity. By simply touching the pectoral muscle, you can know for sure if it has been injured. This can be confirmed by pain on touching the area.
Your upper ribs are connected to the sternum, through a cartilage; this junction is called the costosternal joint. When this joint gets inflamed, it results to a condition called costochondritis. This condition is common among teenagers and young adults; it results in a localized, stabbing and sharp pain. This can be caused by viral infection or trauma to the chest. The patient experiences pain and tenderness on their left side of their chest; this worsens after activity.
For more info about pain management, you can read this Ultimate Guide to Lower Abdominal Pain.
Treatment of Left Side Chest Pain
The treatment to this health disorder depends upon the cause. Your doctor will diagnose your condition by assessing your symptoms. When he identifies the cause, appropriate treatment will be initiated. If you experience severe symptoms of angina or heart attack such as pain gyrated to your shoulder blades plus jaws, nausea, tightened chest, dizziness and a blurred vision, then you need to see your doctor immediately. In some cases, procedures like angioplasty may be necessary, especially if the pain is caused by arterial blockages.
If the pain is due to non-cardiac causes, then a medical practitioner may prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs. To avoid incidences of this chest pan, you need to get a routine examination of the cardiac function done. If you are above 40 years or if your family has a history of diabetes, heart attack or if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle then you should also get a routine examination of cardiac function.
A healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid health disorders; eat healthy, avoid excess alcohol, smoking and exercise regularly. However, if you experience any form of pain in the left side of your chest, consult your doctor.