We’ve all likely experienced that sharp, stabbing pain in our chest that barely lets us breathe. Although it lasts just a few seconds, the discomfort is enough to immobilize you and in some cases, cause serious distress. While it’s a very common condition in children and young people, it’s rarely talked about.
We at zgrnews would like to tell you the real reason why that awkward feeling occurs.
Precordial catch syndrome
That’s the medical name given to the sharp sensation that some confuse for a heart attack. It’s also known as Texidor’s twinge. It’s a pain that is located in the chest and occurs in the front of the heart, which is why it’s called precordial (pre for before, cordial for the heart). It usually occurs in children and young people, although some adults also experience it less frequently.
It’s a pain that has been described as “feeling like a needle is stuck in that area” or “like a stab.” It occurs in a state of rest, but also after a moderate session of exercise or physical exertion.
What causes it?
While the sensation itself is very annoying and close to the heart area, it doesn’t really mean there’s a problem with that organ. One possibility could be that the pleura (the membrane that covers some organs, such as the diaphragm) presses or rubs (and, therefore, irritates) the nerves that are close to the rib cage — that’s why pain can start in the chest walls or in the area of the ribs, even in a state of inactivity. Other explanations could be anxiety, stress, or compression on the intercostal nerve.
A distressing nuisance
As the precordial catch syndrome is more common in children and adolescents, it’s very likely that the first time the child experiences this inexplicable and acute pain in the heart area, the parents may become anxious about the possibility that something could be wrong with their child’s heart. Therefore, the main challenge for the doctor is to analyze the symptoms and review the patient’s history to rule out any heart conditions or other problems that require treatment.
How to help it
Although it’s very uncomfortable, precordial catch syndrome is not a medical emergency. Trying to breathe deeply at that time is complicated, but it helps the pain go away faster. We should keep in mind that some people may feel dizzy from the effort and hyperventilate. Likewise, it’s advised to change positions. For example, straighten up if you were hunched over or get a massage in the painful area until you feel relief, which usually takes about one minute. Unfortunately, as this is an isolated event without an apparent cause (because it can occur whether you’re resting or in motion), there is no way to prevent it.
Unless the pain is related to a serious illness, such as bronchitis or asthma, there’s no reason to be worried. Precordial catch syndrome usually disappears on its own. It does not require treatment. But if the pain becomes too frequent, if the person has been diagnosed with a heart problem, or if it’s combined with other symptoms, it’s advised to consult a doctor.
Detecting the cause
The pang of which we have already mentioned usually causes concern because there are other discomforts that also have the same type of pain. Some have a physical origin, but others are only psychosomatic, so it’s necessary for the doctor to evaluate them to differentiate them. Events that have a common pain in the heart area include hiatal hernia, pancreatitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, bronchitis, and asthma. On the other hand, the pain is also usually a part of psychosomatic symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
It’s important to remember that if you have any questions, you should see a doctor because no health article can replace a complete diagnosis made by a professional.