Chest Pain That Isn’t Heart Pain

Chest Pain That Isn’t Heart Pain

February 2, 2021

By Dr. William Foshee

There are many causes for chest pain, both cardiac and non-cardiac. Some can be difficult to identify. Here’s what you should know about chest pain. 

Chest pain can be caused by numerous issues that are not heart-related. Many body parts located in the chest can cause pain and discomfort. Muscles, bones, connective tissues, nerves, skin, the lungs, the aorta, the esophagus, and the stomach can all cause chest pain.  

Chest pain can be associated with several cardiovascular system issues, including the heart and blood vessels, the pulmonary system, the digestive system, and the musculoskeletal system. 

Chest pain can also radiate to the neck, face, shoulders, back, and arms as a cause for musculoskeletal or referred pain. Musculoskeletal pain can often occur from inflammation or injury to the muscles or bones of the chest wall. This can be due to trauma, arthritis, or other conditions such as fibromyalgia. 

What is the most common? 

By far, the most common cause of chest pain is musculoskeletal. 

Health care providers can determine the source of pain from patient exams and diagnostic tests, and studies show that almost 50% of chest pain is related to musculoskeletal origin 1. Chiropractic care is a precise fit for patients whose pain source is musculoskeletal and not cardiovascular.

At MyoCore, we specialize in chronic musculoskeletal pain through drug-free, non-invasive treatments that relieve pain. Our therapies along with other assessments can help manage soft tissue and muscle pain to keep your body functioning properly. 

Patients who experience musculoskeletal related chest pain are often underdiagnosed leading to increases in depression and anxiety with associated decreases in quality of life, which can become chronic and disabling if not diagnosed and treated 2.

Common Musculoskeletal Causes for Chest Pain

Cervical radiculopathy occurs when there is a disk herniation or a nerve root irritation in the neck 3

Myofascial trigger points in the pectoralis muscles and neck muscles 4,5

Costochondritis is a painful condition from inflammation affecting the junction of the ribs and cartilage at the sternum 6

Segmental dysfunction and neurologic input in the lower cervical spine and upper thoracic spine 7

Heart Health

Our chiropractic doctors recognize the importance of a persons’ whole-body health. Since chest pain is one of those symptoms associated with emergent, life-threatening conditions, you should always seek medical attention for chest pain.

Our hospital-based integrated care model gives our doctors access to the top cardiovascular specialists in our communities. This allows our practices to co-manage and make referrals for care to serve our patients’ heart health’s best interests. We determine the cause of pain and offer movement therapies for improved health and reduced pain. At the same time, consistently see our patients have an increase in their quality of life.

We are your dedicated partners in conservative pain care and your healthy heart journey.

  1. Ayloo A, Cvengros T, Marella S. Evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal chest pain. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2013;40(4):863-887.
  2. Stochkendahl MJ, Christensen HW. Chest pain in focal musculoskeletal disorders. Med Clin North Am. 2010 Mar;94(2):259-73. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2010.01.007. PMID: 20380955.
  3. Mork AA, Haufe SM, Yancey WB. Sometimes (what seems to be) a heart attack is (really) a pain in the neck. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2004 Jan-Feb;17(1):74-7. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.17.1.74. PMID: 15014058.) (Mitchell LC, Schafermeyer RW. Herniated cervical disk presenting as ischemic chest pain. Am J Emerg Med. 1991 Sep;9(5):457-60. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(91)90215-6. PMID: 1863303.
  4. Bagcier F, Volkan Yurdakul O, Ozduran E. Three simple rules in pectoral muscle’s trigger point treatment, which may be a cause of chest pain: position, palpation, and perpendicular needling. J Am Board Fam Med. 2020;33(6):1031-1031.
  5. Choi YJ, Choi SU, Shin HW, Lee HW, Lim HJ, Chang SH. Chest pain caused by the trigger points in the scalenus muscle – a case report -. Korean J Anesthesiol. 2007;53(5):680.
  6. Proulx AM, Zryd TW. Costochondritis: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Sep 15;80(6):617-20. PMID: 19817327.
  7. Foreman RD. Mechanisms of cardiac pain. Annu Rev Physiol. 1999;61(1):143-167.