Precordial pain is a widespread kind of harmless minor chest pain that primarily affects adolescents, teens, and children. Often under-recognized, the condition is known by different names such as precordial catch syndrome, PCS, Texidor’s Twinge, and ‘stitch in the side.’ PCS was first reported by Miller and Texidor in 1955.
The pain associated with PCS may last only for a few seconds or may persist for as long as 40 minutes. However, its usual duration is for a few minutes. Sometimes precordial pain may be accompanied by a cracking or popping sensation in the chest area when inhaling and exhaling.
Precordial pain occurs in the precordium; it is the external body surface that encloses the lower chest and cardiac area. The associated back pain or chest pain often tends to elicit symptoms that are similar to a heart attack. Hence, most people confuse it to be a cardiac arrest and seek emergency treatment. Individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to suffering from such chest pain.
Precordial chest pain often tends to resolve quickly, often with minimal or no medical attention. Deep breathing for many minutes generally brings relief to the patient.
Symptoms accompanying precordial pain
Some of the signs and symptoms accompanying precordial pain are as follows:
- Pain in chest that is localized, sudden, sharp, stabbing, dull, and/or deteriorating.
- Pain which occurs when breathing deeply
- Pain during movements
- Pain with minimal or nil movements
- Cracking or popping sounds or feelings when taking a deep breath
- Pain which feels like pricking needles
- Tearing of the eyes during deep breaths
- Worsening of pain during deep breathing
- Pain which lasts for a few seconds up to half an hour; but in most cases, just for a few minutes.
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle cramping
- Temporary loss of vision
- Blurry vision
- Onset of dull pain post precordial pain has diminished
In rare cases, precordial pain may be accompanied with the below listed symptoms:
- Breathing problems or shallow respiration
- Loss of consciousness
- Temporary syncope
- Pallor or paleness
- Tingling or pricking sensations on the skin
- Facial flushing
- Fainting or dizziness
- Cardiac palpitations
Precordial pain symptoms may occur once or two times a week. It usually tends to exacerbate when the patient is resting, sitting, and/or lying down. Inactive people are most likely to experience such precordial catch pain.
Doctors are not aware about the exact cause of precordial pain. It is however believed that nerve issues and/or lung problems may contributes towards the development and aggravation of the condition.
Many scientists are of the belief that precordial catch pain originates in the parietal pleura region of the lungs. However, there are many others who think that the chest pain develops due to spasms of the intercostal muscles which are situated between the ribs. In cases where the pain arises due to muscle spasms, it tends to subside after the affected muscles have relaxed.
It is important to note that even though the symptoms of precordial pain are similar to that of a heart attack, PCS is different from a cardiac arrest because the associated pain does not affect the heart; however patients may feel that the pain involves the heart.
A pinched nerve can sometimes cause precordial pain.
Even though a sedentary lifestyle is widely considered as a risk factor for PCS development, people with an active lifestyle but a poor posture may also suffer from the condition.
Treatment of precordial pain
Diagnosis of precordial pain involve numerous tests such as physical examination, assessment of the medical history of the patient, echocardiography, barium studies, radiography, and electrocardiography.
Precordial catch pain is often benign and does not require any kind of medical treatment. It does not adversely affect the daily routine. All that is required is correct diagnosis and information and assurance from doctors about the condition so as to alleviate the anxiety in the patient.
Medications are usually not needed for easing symptoms. They often prove to be redundant or ineffective as precordial pain symptoms generally last for 3 to 5 minutes.
Instead of medical treatment, patients may follow the below listed steps to find relief from precordial pain:
- Light breathing
- If chest pain is caused by muscle spasms, then take many rapid and deep breaths. This may be painful to accomplish but such breathing typically relaxes muscle spasms.
- Lie down on the bed with the face down.
As mentioned above, people living a sedentary inactive lifestyle are more vulnerable to developing precordial catch syndrome. Hence, the best way to prevent the chest pain is to adopt a healthier lifestyle, become more active, participate in sports, and exercise regularly.
Patients also need to remember that precordial pain symptoms are non-threatening and tend to resolve quickly. Hence, panicking is unnecessary as doing so will only increase the stress levels and prolong the chest pain.