Chest Pain

Chest Pain

Chest Pain

Chest pain may differ from one individual to another. The most common symptoms are dull aches or sharp pain in the chest region. However, it is also common to feel burning or crushing pain. Some chest pains can travel to other parts of the body, such as radiating up the neck and into the jaws, into upper limbs, or traveling down the back. There are many causes of chest pain. Some chest pains can be life-threatening, particularly if it is associated with the heart or lungs. Therefore, it is advisable to seek medical help if chest pain arises.

Causes of Chest Pain

Most people suspect that they are having a heart attack when they experience chest pain. However, only about 5.5 percent of emergency room visits due to chest pain are related to heart problems. Heart problems can include: heart attack, angina, pericarditis, myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, and aortic dissection.

Chest pain

Chest pain may also be caused by other conditions, such as: acid reflux, swallowing problems, gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas, lung conditions (such as pneumonia), or muscle or bone-related issues such as bruised or broken ribs, sore muscles, or compression fractures. Other illnesses such as shingles can also cause chest pain.

Chest Pain Diagnosis

Certain symptoms may help you better determine or rule out the causes of your chest pain.

While chest pain is the most common symptom of heart problems, some people experience other symptoms with or without chest pain. Symptoms that may indicate heart problems include:

chest pain
  • chest tightness
  • back, jaw, or arm pain
  • fatigue
  • light headedness
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • pain during exertion.

Symptoms that may indicate your chest pain is not heart-related include:

  • sour or acidic taste in the mouth
  • pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • pain related to body position
  • pain during breathing or coughing
  • rash
  • fever
  • aches
  • chill
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • panic or anxiety
  • hyperventilating
  • back pain that radiates to the front of the chest.

It is important to seek medical treatment immediately if you suspect you have a heart attack. Your doctor will discuss with you related symptoms and medical history and base their diagnosis on the acquired information. When necessary, they may order tests such as ECG, blood tests, x-ray, or MRI scans to help determine the cause of your chest pain.


chest pain

The treatment for chest pain will be determined by the cause and severity of your chest pain. Treatments for heart-related causes usually involve the use of medication and/or surgical repair of arteries. Treatments for other causes of chest pain differ depending on the cause. For example, if the pain is due to a collapsed lung, then treatment usually involves the use of lung re-inflation, if the chest pain is due to acid reflux or heartburn then antacids may be used, and if chest pain is caused by panic attacks, then anti-anxiety medications may be used.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

chest pain

Looking from a Traditional Chinese medicine perspective, chest pain may be more complicated than we think. First, we need to understand that the twelve meridians and the eight extraordinary meridians all have a connection to the chest area. Meridians are channels through which Qi (energy) and blood flow throughout the body. If any of these meridians become abnormal, there is a probability for chest pain to occur. There are several factors that can cause the meridians to become abnormal or blocked.

Causes of chest pain can be categorized into six types:

1. Heart Qi Deficient

This is due to weakness of the heart function, often due to qi (energy) deficiency in the heart meridian. Chest pain due to heart qi deficiency is usually characterized by a dull ache and stifling sensation in the chest area. Patients may also have a pale complexion, are easily fatigued, have excessive sweating upon light physical exertion, or have heart palpitations.

2. Coldness Congeals Causing Qi Blockage

This is due to insufficient vital qi in the body, allowing coldness to invade and congeal. The cold contracts the body’s channels and blood vessels, slowing down the circulation in the body and causing pain. It is often characterized by more severe chest pain that can radiate to the shoulder or the upper back, pale complexion, excessive sweating, poor circulation and cold in the extremities, and fear of cold.

3. Heart Blood Stasis

This type of chest pain is due to blockage in the blood vessels, characterized by stabbing or sharp pain. Chest pain can also be accompanied by excessive sweating, palpitations, and anxiety attacks followed by physical exhaustion and fatigue after each episode.

4. Phlegm Encumbering Channels

This type of chest pain is due to excessive phlegm in the body blocking the free flow of the meridians. This causes pain and a stifling sensation in the chest that is exacerbated when lying down. It is usually accompanied by fatigue, dizziness, stomach distention, coughing, and expectorate excessive phlegm.

5. Abscess in the Lung Cavity

This type of chest pain is also known as pneumonia. It is characterized by burning pain in the chest. Other symptoms include expectorating thick yellow foul-smelling phlegm with abscess and blood.

6. Liver Qi Stagnation

Chinese medicine theory suggests that anger, irritability, and stress are associated with our liver and gallbladder. This type of chest pain is the result of stress and emotional problems causing qi stagnation in the liver and gallbladder meridian. It is usually accompanied by dizziness, temporal headaches, mood swings, irregular periods, dryness and bitterness in the mouth, and yellow urine.

For more information about how Chinese Medicine can treat pain issues like chest pain, see our website at


chest pain

Chest pain may have many different causes. Despite the fact that most chest pains are not caused by heart-related conditions, proper diagnosis will help put most people’s minds at ease, and for those who do have a heart condition, proper diagnosis and timely treatment can be lifesaving. At Centre of Balance, our practitioners use natural and holistic methods such as acupuncture and herbal medicine to help you resolve your chest pain without having to rely on pharmaceutical drugs or surgical interventions. Why not give us a call, have a chat with our expert team, and see how we can help you?

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