Pricking pain in the chest can be a worrying symptom as many people associate chest pain with heart problems. However, not all chest discomfort is going to be due to cardiovascular issues, there are many other possible causes.
Nonetheless, if a patient is experiencing pricking pain in the chest, especially for the first time, he or she needs to seek medical attention immediately.
Causes of Pricking Pain in Chest
There are a number of possible causes for pricking pain in the chest area. These include:
- Acute Myocardial Infarction. The classic sign of a heart attack is a crushing pain in the chest area but patients may also exhibit atypical symptoms. Around 12% of the people who present with pricking pain are having a heart attack.
- Angina Pectoris. This is caused by a decrease in the blood flow to the pericardial vessels. It can be mistaken for a heart attack. Coronary spasms may also cause the symptom.
- Musculoskeletal Problems/Trauma. Fractured ribs or any muscle trauma to a certain area of the chest can lead to the picking pain.
- Aortic dissection.
- Pericariditis. This is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart. It may be caused by a viral infection.
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This is the enlargement of the heart.
- Hiatal Hernia
- Problems with the Gallbladder or the Pancreas.
- Pinched nerves
- Respiratory problems (e.g. pneumonia, pleurisy).
- Panic Disorders
Chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia may also cause the problem.
Prickling Pain in Left Chest
For some patients, the symptom is going to be specific and they will complain of a pricking pain on the left side of the chest. The heart sits to the left of the chest and pain over this area can indicate a heart problem.
Angina and an Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) are two of the most common causes of left-sided chest pain. Although one can be mistaken for the other, there are differences.
- Pain. The pain with angina can come without any other symptoms. The pain of a heart attack is likely to radiate to the arm and it can cause breathing and gastrointestinal problems.
- Rest. Angina pain goes away with rest while a heart attack’s pain persists.
- Onset. Angina pain usually comes following exertion while a heart attack can come even when at rest.
The following are warning signs that the pain experienced by the patient is likely caused by a heart attack.
- Pain radiates down the left arm and to the back.
- The patient loses consciousness or may faint.
- The patient may complain of an upset stomach.
- Cold clammy skin and cold sweats.