Atypical Chest Pain

Atypical Chest Pain : Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Today, atypical chest pain is not an empty phrase. The problems need addressing as the issue has wormed into people’s lives. It is now a common phenomenon that can make you worried about your heart health. Unlike an empty threat, it is a disease that you need to watch out for. Though it is not fatal like heart attack, you need to understand about it. Therefore, you can take the necessary steps to keep the complication from affecting your life.

When you hear about atypical chest pain, you leave the atypical part and focus on chest pain. Many people are still in dark about the difference between the actual chest pain and the atypical one. But, all chest pains do not associate itself with the underlying heart problems. So, read ahead to know in detail about the condition. It is good for eliminating unnecessary panic and pressure. You can take the right steps to ensure safety and avoid complications.

What Is Atypical Chest Pain?

Atypical <a href= chest pain” width=”650″ height=”433″ />In simple terms, the atypical chest pain never meets the criteria of the actual chest pain (anginal). So, if you may experience symptoms that can come under cardiac related issues or non-cardiac related. The heart-disease-related chest pains mostly occur after strenuous activity. It is also known as the typical chest pain. Most of the emergency or outpatient cases are associated with chest pain due to cardiovascular conditions. The main heart problems that lead to typical chest pain are:

The pain resembles the pressure like sensation or squeezing feeling. You may feel severe distress due to the pain caused due to a reduced supply of blood to the heart. Hence, it points to the underlying coronary artery disease. Is your chest pain similar to the aginal one? If no, then you are experiencing atypical chest pain. In such cases, the pain does not occur in the sternum region of your body. But, it can spread to the other regions and make you feel uncomfortable.

Difference Between Atypical Chest Pain And Typical Chest Pain

The definition of chest pain is not set by clear boundaries. So, instead of the self-diagnosis, you need to contact the medical practitioner immediately to know the actual reason. The medical professionals differentiate the chest pain into typical and atypical. Let’s delve deep into each topic to understand the difference.

Typical Chest Pain Symptoms

Typical Chest Pain Symptoms

Cardiac arrest can lead to atypical pain. So, it occurs in the chest area. It happens due to severe stress or physical exertion. The doctors may treat the condition with nitroglycerine to alleviate the discomfort. One of the reasons for atypical chest pain is panic attacks. But, women with heart disease can show the symptoms of atypical chest pain. The symptoms that men and women show during cardiac arrest is different. But, look out for the following symptoms that indicate something is seriously wrong:

  • Constant pain with enhanced pressure or aching feeling
  • Pain escalating to the maximum severity after some minutes
  • Severe exertion or stress leading to discomfort
  • Pain in the left chest area or beneath the breastbone (substernal area)
  • Chest pain that travels to other areas of the body like arms, jaw or shoulder

Atypical Pain Symptoms

Pain disorder is the cause of atypical pain. It is a psychological issue that causes a person to experience chest pain. People vulnerable to panic attacks can experience excruciating pain that is mistaken for cardiac arrest. Therefore, instead of self-diagnosis, it is ideal to get advice from a medical professional. Atypical pain may or may not indicate heart problems. People with a history of panic disorder can have underlying heart problems. Or the probability of developing a heart disorder is high. Therefore, it is better to get tested to know the issues and take the necessary actions. The signs of atypical chest pain include the following:

Sharp pain

You can experience sharp pain in your chest region. The stabbing sensation can worsen with time. People with serious conditions like pulmonary embolism can also suffer from such pain. Hence, seek medical help immediately to know what is causing the issue.

Location Of The Pain

You experience pain in a small region. The pain mostly originates in the chest wall. You can experience the sharp and pulsating sensation without any exertion. Pleuritic pain is positional. You may also confuse it with the inflammation pain. The fleeting chest pain can worsen once you change your position. Sometimes, your body movement can relive the discomfort. The area is tender. So, you can worsen the pain or reproduce it by pressing over it.

Duration Of The Pain

The atypical chest pain accompanies with a panic or anxiety attack. It can occur at any time of the day. You can experience severe discomfort for a duration of five to fifteen minutes. The pain is similar to the one experienced by people having the following medical conditions:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Gastrointestinal Complications
  • Musculoskeletal Issues
  • Additional Symptoms

Pain is not the only symptom associated with the issue. Along with the chest pain, you can also experience additional symptoms like:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Breathing Problems
  • Profuse Sweating

Causes Of Atypical Chest Pain

You need to recognize the chest pain and seek medical help immediately. Since the atypical and typical chest pain can have fluctuating symptoms, a visit to the doctor is ideal. It will help you take the necessary precaution to avoid complication. As mentioned above, atypical chest pain is not caused by heart problems. The main causes that can lead to pain are:


Stress is the negative feeling in your body that can cause physical and mental issues. How many times have you felt excess pressure draining your energy? The issue in your personal or professional life can put pressure on you. So, it leads to stress, which in turn causes atypical chest pain. The increasing fear or discomfort about something can put in severe stress. It leads to panic attacks. Hence, you experience chest pain. It also comes with other symptoms like:

  • Increased sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Pounding heart/ Accelerated heartbeat
  • Palpitations

The severe discomfort makes your chest muscles to contract. Anxiety or stress can influence the working of your heart. Therefore, it can cause chest tightness and pain.



It is the condition caused due to the inflammation of the cartilage in your ribcage. It mostly affects the cartilage where your upper ribs attach to your sternum or breastbone. So, the inflammation in the costosternal joint/junction is known as costochondritis. The medical condition can result in immense atypical pain. With the disease, you can experience labored or painful breathing. The main reasons for the cause of the disease are:

  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Respiratory infections
  • Direct trauma to the chest

It is a condition that can develop in sports people who play golf, squash, tennis, etc. So, the issue is more prevalent in people who have to swing their arms frequently.

Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux

It is the most common cause of atypical chest pain. Acid reflux is the non-cardiac complication resulting in pain. It is nothing but the formation of gas. You may have seen the advertisements for the products that promise to relieve issues of gas within seconds. The acid reflux happens when the contents of your stomach backflow. So, the stomach acid travels to the esophagus. You can experience a burning sensation in your chest. The common term of the sensation is heartburn. Eating habits lead to acid reflux and atypical chest pain. Therefore, steer clear from the following food items:

  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol Abuse

Lung Problem

Atypical chest pain is also associated with underlying lung problems. So, you need to consult your doctor to know the actual issue causing the pain. Some of the common conditions that result in the chest pain are:

The above-mentioned conditions can cause persistent coughing. So, it leads to the contraction of the lung muscles. It results in the tightness and atypical chest pain. Hence, you need to seek the doctor’s appointment to treat the issue immediately. Failure to do so can result in severe complications.

Diagnosis OF Atypical Chest Pain

The atypical chest pain is similar to the cardiac pain. Therefore, it can cause severe distress in you. You need to contact your doctor immediately. Once you get admitted in the emergency, your doctor may prescribe the following test to detect the severity of the issues. So, the following tests will help your doctor know for sure if its atypical chest pain or pain due to underlying health conditions:

Physical Examination

The doctor examines the patient’s breathing and check for the area of pain. Your doctor can suggest additional tests to determine the actual cause of the issue.



The electrocardiography is the first testing method adopted in the emergency room to confirm or eliminate the presence of cardiac issues. It helps the doctor determine the pain is associated with heart diseases or not. The test gives information on the activity of the heart. So, if your pain is related to heart attack, then it shows on ECG.

Chest X-ray

The chest radiograph will help your doctor identify the conditions that can lead to chest pain. It shows the image of the lungs and its corresponding areas. So, it assists in confirming or eliminate respiratory disorders like:

The conditions causing the pain in the chest wall is easy to identify with the x-ray. So, your doctor can either confirm the chest pain as atypical or find the actual reason causing it.

Blood Tests

The blood test can help determine the cardiac problems. The different markers can help your doctor establish that the pain is heart disease related or not. Wondering how? Your heart muscles consist of enzymes or proteins. The damage of heart cells causes the heart attack. The damaged cells can leak the enzymes or proteins into the bloodstream.

CT Scan

It can help your doctors spot the aortic dissection or the clot in the lung. So, depending on the results, your doctor can develop the treatment plan.

Atypical Chest Pain Treatment

Experiencing atypical chest pain is a common phenomenon today. From the bad food habits to excessive stress can result in the discomfort. But, the recurrent episodes of the pain is not a good sign. Therefore, you need to undergo a medical evaluation to find the root cause of the problem. Cardiac origin pain is fatal to you. So, finding the nature of the pain is essential for getting treatment. Non-cardiac related chest pain needs treatment depending on the issue.


The doctor can prescribe pain medications for costochondritis. The main aim is to control the pain and inflammation caused by the issue. The most common treatment is prescribing NSAIDs. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter medications like naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin IB). For severe pain, you need a stronger dose of painkillers.

Acid Reflux

The pain caused by acid reflux is not fatal. But, it can cause severe discomfort in your life. So, your doctor can suggest medication to relieve the uncomfortable feeling. The following medication can relieve the symptoms:

  • H2 blockers like ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine.
  • PPIs including esomeprazole, rabeprazole, and omeprazole.
  • Alginate drugs
  • Over-the-counter treatments (Antacids)

Home Treatment For Acid Reflux

You can also opt for the home remedies that can eliminate the distress caused due to acid reflux. The common remedies are:

Atypical Chest Pain Due To Pain Attacks

Pain due to a panic attack is psychogenic in nature. Therefore, you need to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist to know the reason for getting such attacks. The trained professional can evaluate your condition by talking to you. It will reveal the anxiety, stress or other issues that lead to the panic attacks. It helps formulate a treatment plan that will control your stress. The anxiety and stress control techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy.


In some cases, the atypical chest pain points to a more severe condition. Hence, your doctor needs to find the problem. Medications can control mild symptoms. Severe cases may need surgery to rectify the problem.


You cannot ignore chest pain. It is the reminder that something is wrong in your body. The issues are either small or it is severe. Instead of self-diagnosing the problem, you need to see a doctor. It will help you find the reason for the pain. Cardiac pains need medical management as it is serious. The non-cardiac problems need treatment according to the condition to alleviate the discomfort.

Never take the recurring atypical chest pain lightly. So, get tested thoroughly to find the actual cause of the pain. Taking appropriate treatment will help you overcome the pain. Hence, you can live a happy and pain-free life.

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