What Causes Left Side Chest Pain and How To Treat It?

Left side chest pain can be frightening, but it does not always signal a serious health concern.

In many cases, the cause of chest pain is due to musculoskeletal issues or lack of activity and should improve with simple remedies.

Learn more about the potential causes and how you can manage your chest pain here.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Left Side Chest Pain?

Stress or Anxiety

Chest pains can be a symptom of mental health conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety.

Emotional turmoil can cause the body to respond with physical symptoms such as chest pain.

To reduce the sensation, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help manage your stress levels.

You may also find it beneficial to speak with a mental health professional if your chest pain is related to anxiety or other forms of emotional distress.

Anxiety chest pain can also be a result of a physical ailment such as pneumonia or pleurisy that causes inflammation in and around the lungs, causing sharp stabbing chest pains.

It is essential to speak with your doctor if your left side chest pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, chills tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) or difficulty breathing. These may indicate that you are experiencing something more serious than anxiety and need medical treatment.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal issues, such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), can also cause chest pains on the left side. These pains are often felt more towards the back of the chest and may be accompanied by a burning sensation.

Additional symptoms that often accompany GERD-related left side chest pains include frequent burping, feeling bloated or full after meals, difficulty swallowing, and heart palpitations.

These symptoms can be indicative of other potential causes of chest pain as well.

It is important to talk to your doctor if you are having any type of chest pain so they can confirm a diagnosis and prescribe the best form of treatment.

Respiratory Problems Such as Pneumonia, Asthma, and Pulmonary Embolism

Respiratory problems, such as pneumonia, asthma, or a pulmonary embolism, can also cause left-side chest pain.

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs, while a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs that can lead to difficulty breathing. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways that can also cause chest pains.

If you think you may have pneumonia, asthma, or another respiratory condition, a chest X-ray can help to confirm the diagnosis.

Depending on the findings of your X-ray and other symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend an inhaler to reduce chest pain.

In addition to these treatments, smoking cessation is also important for people who smoke as it can reduce complications from an existing respiratory illness.

As each medical condition is different, it’s best to speak to your doctor about what treatment plan is best for you.

Lung Cancer and Pleurisy

Lung cancer and pleurisy are two other possible causes of left side chest pain.

Lung cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the lungs, while pleurisy is an inflammation in the membrane that surrounds the lungs.

Both can cause sharp pain on the left side of the chest.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. It can cause pain under the left chest and side, as well as a cough that doesn’t go away. Other symptoms may include weight loss, coughing up blood and fatigue.

Pleurisy is an inflammation in the membrane that surrounds the lungs. Symptoms of pleurisy are sharp chest pain while breathing, shortness of breath and a dry cough. If left untreated, this condition can become worse and lead to complications such as pneumonia or a collapsed lung.

Treatment for both lung cancer and pleurisy includes a combination of medications, surgery and radiation therapy.

Heart Conditions such as Angina, Myocardial Infarctions, and Aortic Dissections

Heart-related conditions are common causes of left side chest pain.

Angina, a diagnosis stemming from poor blood flow to the heart muscle, is a condition that can cause chest pain on both the left and right sides of the chest.

Myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and aortic dissections occur when one or more of the heart’s blood vessels become blocked, causing chest pain on either side of the body.

Although chest pain is not always a sign of heart-related illnesses, it is important to be mindful and aware of common heart conditions.

Symptoms of angina include chest pain that radiates to the arms or jaw, and can worsen with physical activity or fatigue.

Myocardial infarctions are typically described as crushing pains in the left side of the chest that do not go away even when lying down or taking deep breaths.

Aortic dissections almost exclusively cause severe tearing pain in the left side of the chest, along with back and abdominal discomfort.

All three conditions require immediate medical attention and can be life threatening if untreated.

Diagnosing the Cause of Chest Pain

Diagnosis of the cause of chest pain begins with a thorough physical examination and review of your medical history.

Your doctor may order imaging tests such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to look for any structural abnormalities that could be causing your discomfort.

They may also conduct laboratory tests on blood and urine samples to check for any sign of infection or organ failure.

Depending on their findings, they may recommend additional tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or a stress test to evaluate the functioning of your heart.

Finally, if no other cause is found, they may refer you to a mental health specialist if they believe that anxiety or depression may be contributing to your chest pain.

Treating Your Left-Side Chest Pain

Depending on the cause, treating left-side chest pain can be a complex process.

If it’s due to a musculoskeletal issue, rest and physical therapy can often be enough to relieve the pain.

If it’s due to an underlying medical or mental health condition, your doctor will likely suggest a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, counseling sessions and other therapies to manage the symptoms.

It is also important to make sure that you stay adequately hydrated and get adequate sleep as these can help reduce stress levels and provide relief from chest pain.

In addition to medications and lifestyle changes, physical therapy can be very beneficial in treating left-side chest pain.

A physical therapist can assess your condition and prescribe exercises that may help to reduce your pain. Depending on the cause of your chest pain, certain movements and stretches may be more helpful than others.

Your physical therapist will work with you to design a personalized exercise program that best meets your needs.

Additionally, they can help you develop healthy habits such as maintaining good posture, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, using appropriate techniques when lifting objects, and addressing muscle imbalances.

Physical therapy can also be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate muscle tightness. Stretching, foam rolling, massage, ultrasound therapy and other modalities can be used in combination with specific exercises to help restore the range of motion and strength of the affected muscles.

These techniques may also help to reduce the tension on soft tissues that are causing your pain.

Working with a physical therapist is an important part of any recovery plan for left-side chest pain and can help get you back to feeling your best as quickly as possible.

Home Remedies to Ease Discomfort from Chest Pain

There are many home remedies you can use to ease the discomfort of chest pain.

Massaging the affected area with an anti-inflammatory ointment or with aromatherapy can help reduce inflammation and provide some relief.

Meditating, deep breathing exercises and stretching can also prove to be beneficial in managing the symptoms.

Additionally, heating pads, ice packs and hot water bottles can work wonders in providing relief from pain too.

Although there are plenty of home remedies that provide relief from chest pain, it is always advisable to contact your doctor in case the pain persists.

Other than natural remedies, certain medications like analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms.

The doctor might also advice X-ray or blood tests for further evaluation. It is important to keep in mind that chest pain can also be a sign of a serious health issue, so it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible if you are experiencing any kind of discomfort in this area.

When to See a Doctor for Chest Pain on the Left Side?

It is important to consult a doctor if chest pain lasts for more than a few minutes, as it could be indicative of something serious.

You should also see a doctor for chest pain if the pain is sharp and concentrated on one side, or if the chest pain is accompanied by fever, shortness of breath and tightness in the throat or arms. If you experience any of these symptoms along with chest pain, get immediate medical assistance.

Other symptoms that may suggest an underlying problem include fatigue, nausea, indigestion or pain in the shoulders, back and arms.

If chest pain is left untreated it could lead to more serious conditions such as a heart attack or other cardiac problems.

Since chest pain on the left side could be a sign of a cardiac issue or blood clot, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause of the pain and take action as needed.

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