Primary Causes For Chest Cramps
Having chest cramps is one of the primary reasons that people seek emergency medical help. Before you begin to panic and assume that you are having a heart attack, you should know that there is actually a good chance that you're not. While everyone in the movies that grabs their heart is always having a heart attack, fortunately, in real life there are a multitude of other causes. That being said, it is still essential that you take a trip to the emergency room for an evaluation, just to be safe.
- Angina – There is a good chance that your chest cramps can be caused by angina. This condition is thick, hard, cholesterol plaques that slowly build up on the walls of your arteries that are responsible for carrying blood to your heart. Restricted blood flow can cause episodes of recurrent chest pain.
- Aortic Dissection – This is considered a life-threatening condition that involves your aorta. If for some reason, the inside layers separate and force blood to flow between them, the pain is intense in your chest and in your back. This is caused by high blood pressure that has not been controlled or a hard hit to the chest.
- Coronary Spasm – Chest cramps can be the result of a spasm in the arteries that are supplying blood to your heart. This temporary stop of blood flow usually occurs while resting and often is partnered up with coronary artery disease.
- Heart Attack – The most well-known cause of a chest cramp is due to a heat attack. This is the result of your heart not receiving any blood due to a clot.
- Pericarditis – This is a temporary condition that is usually the result of a viral infection that causes the sac that surrounds your heart to be inflamed.
- Pleurisy – These localized, sharp chest cramps usually worsen when you cough or inhale because the lining of your chest cavity has become inflamed. This often results from an autoimmune disorder or pneumonia.
- Pulmonary Embolism – When a blood clot ends up lodged in a pulmonary artery, there is a blockage of blood flow to your lung tissue. This is typically the result of immobilization or recent surgery.
- Lung Conditions – Other causes of chest cramps are a collapsed lung, asthma and high blood pressure levels within the arteries that are supplying the lungs with blood.
- Panic Attack – A large majority of people that experience chest cramps and assume that they are having a heart attack are really suffering form a panic attack. This is also characterized by intense fear, rapid breathing, increased heartbeat, shortness of breath and profuse sweating.
- Costochondritis – This musculoskeletal cause, also referred to as Tietze syndrome occurs when your ribcage cartilage becomes inflamed. The result is pain and cramping, especially if you apply pressure to your sternum.
- Heartburn – When stomach acid rises through your esophagus, you will experience a burning and cramping sensation directly behind your breast bone.
- Hiatal Hernia – With this condition, a portion of your stomach moves into your chest above your diaphragm which causes pressure, pain and cramping, especially after eating.
- Sore Muscles – Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes can produce muscle-related, persistent pain.
- Cancer – Although this is rare, some types of cancer that involve the chest or that has spread from somewhere else in the body can be the cause of chest cramps.
- Injury - Broken or bruised ribs or pinched nerves can cause a great amount of chest pain, especially coughing, inhaling or moving around.