Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I get a sharp pain sometimes when I am breathing?"
Sometimes when I take a very deep breath I get a sharp pain in my chest that makes it feel like I can't move. It passes after a couple of minutes, but what causes this? Should I get a chest x-ray or something?
There are many potential causes of chest pain like this. Any recurrent chest pain that occurs multiple times like this needs to be checked out by a doctor because some of the causes might be serious and might need treatment. I suggest that you get in to see your primary care doctor, who will be able to perform a complete checkup. One of the most common causes of chest pain that is sharp like this is a strain of the muscles between the ribs, known as the intercostal muscles. The pain tends to occur only with deep breaths, but there many also be pain if you press over the involved region of the ribs. This condition is benign and responds to anti inflammatory medications and rest. Other, more serious causes of sharp chest pain would include a problem with the heart, such as a heart attack. Especially if the pain is crushing or persistent, if it is associated with sweating, if you have shortness of breath, or if the pain comes on with exercise, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Other serious cause of chest pain that your doctor will be able to rule out include a blood clot in the lungs and a lung infection. Get in to see your doctor as soon as possible!
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