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Why do my muscles in my chest hurt?

I'm a 28 year old female. Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes run in our family. I have occasionally taken medicine for anxiety, but haven't had a panic attack for several years. While I am overweight with blood pressure that runs a little high from time to time, my heart and health are closely monitored,and I am not diabetic. And yet from time to time I will get sharp pains on the left side of my chest. They don't seem to be deep enough to be my heart hurting, so I assume they are the muscle below my breast tissue. This only happens on my left side, and I believed it was a symptom of anxiety, or "in my head." Then my grandmother told me she suffers from the same pain occasionally, and has for years.
Chest pain is a fairly common symptom. There are many potential causes for the pain, some of which are serious and some of which are minor. As you rightly point out, the concern is if this is coming from your heart. While unlikely, this would be life threatening and therefore I believe you need to see your primary care doctor to discuss this and have it ruled out. Your primary care doctor can provide you with more information about different causes of the pain. Angina, is chest pain (or other symptoms) caused by a relative decreased amount of blood to the heart. While it would be unusual in a 28 year old women, it is possible and would indicate you are at risk of a heart attack. This should be evaluated. Other causes of chest pain exist. Anxiety is a very common cause. A panic attack classically includes symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pain. Another common cause is gastrointestinal distress. This includes esophageal spasm and gastric reflux. Your symptoms sounds like what we call costochondritis. This is inflammation in the rib muscles that causes sharp pain. This inflammation is difficult to heal as the ribs keep moving with each breath. Talk to your doctor. There are diagnostic and treatment options that you have and would require.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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