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It may be a little unnerving to have any type of chest pain. Many people think right away that any type of chest pain means they are having a heart attack, but this is usually the left to middle of the chest and back. Pain in right chest area can signal health issues that are just as serious, so if you experience right sided chest pain you still need medical attention. This is especially important in older individuals. No matter where chest pain is, it can always be life threatening. This article explains some of the causes of pain on the right side of the chest and what doctors may do about it.
What Organs Are in the Right Chest Area?
To know what causes pain in right chest area, we should first know which organs are there. The right chest area encompasses the upper right-side of the body near your right arm.
The organs in the right chest area that may cause right sided chest pain include:
- Right Lung
- Part of the Heart
- Liver (Just below)
- Pancreas (Just below)
- Gallbladder Just below
- Superior Vena Cava
- Part of the Thymus Gland
What Causes Pain in Right Chest Area?
Most Common Causes
- Pulled muscle.Chest pain is often just a problem with a muscle. You can tell if you have strained a chest muscle because it is worse when you breathe in and out.
- There is also another condition known as costochondritis, an inflammation of the joints in the ribs. You can tell this condition because it hurts to the touch.
- Overworked Muscles – If you have done a lot of heavy lifting or overexerted the muscles, you may have sore muscles in the right chest area.
- Upper Body Injury – An injury to the neck, shoulder, or chest can cause pain in the right chest area.
Strains and inflammation in the chest wall muscles or ribs usually goes away on its own. You may need to see your doctor to rule out other conditions and get some anti-inflammatory medication. Other major causes of pain in right chest area are:
1. Hepatitis or Inflamed Liver
This is a very common cause of right-sided chest pain. With liver inflammation, you can have chest pain on the right along with a “popping” sensation in the chest, shoulder, and abdomen. The pain may radiate up into the right shoulder area. Many things can cause liver inflammation, but one cause is Hepatitis. The doctor can run tests on the liver to find the actual cause.
Inflammation of the pancreas can cause chest pain on the right or the left side. It often radiates to the back and the abdomen can be tender when touching. This is a serious condition and needs to be evaluated and treated immediately. Pancreatitis can be caused by alcohol use, gallstones, and blocked bile ducts.
A viral infection may cause pain in right chest area. This is common with influenza and even a common cold. You can usually tell if the cause is viral if you are coughing a lot and feel pain with you cough or even take a deep breath.
Problems with your gallbladder can cause chest pain on the right side. It may show up as a gallbladder “attack” and then subside or may be a constant pain. You will notice this if you have eaten a high-fat meal or drank caffeine and feel the pain. Gallstones that are stuck inside your bile duct can cause chest, abdominal or pain in your back.
Inflammation in the lining of your stomach can cause pain in your chest and abdomen, vomiting and nausea. This is common if you haven’t eaten in a while or drank too much alcohol.
6. Digestive Disorders
If you have acid reflux or an ulcer you may feel chest pain on the right side. It may also cause a tight feeling in the chest. This can happen with other conditions that affect the esophagus. Any irritation in this area can radiate into the right side of the chest.
This is an inflammation of the tissues that are around the lungs. Symptoms include sharp chest pain when you take a deep breath. You will notice this pain more when you breathe in deeply, move around and cough.
8. Chest Tumor
A tumor in the chest such as lungs, thymus, or breasts can cause pain near their location. If they are closer to the right side then you may feel right sided chest pain.
9. Stuck Food
You may have food stuck in your esophagus, an air bubble or a medication stuck that can cause pain to radiate to the right side of the chest.
Anxiety sufferers may feel “non-cardiac” chest pain in either the right or left side of the chest. Chest pain for the first episode should always be evaluated as an emergency, but if your heart checks out fine you may have had an anxiety attack.
Stress that causes muscle tension or heightened reflux disease can cause pain in the upper abdomen that may be perceived as right sided chest pain.
12. Medication Side-effects
Some medications can lead to chest pain on the right side. This is very common with taking too many antacid preparations.
Pain in Right Chest Area: When to See a Doctor
If this is the first time you have felt any chest pain, you should get immediate medical help. You cannot diagnose the cause yourself and it could be a serious condition. If you have a sudden onset of chest pain that is unrelieved by rest or medication, call your doctor right away. If you have the following symptoms with chest pain, call 9-1-1 immediately:
- Chest pain with sweating
- Chest pain with pressure and tightness near the breastbone
- Chest pain with activity after resting
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heart rate
- Dizziness or fainting
- Rapid breathing
- Pale Skin
- Slow heart rate
- Trouble swallowing
- Chest pain that does not subside
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