Chest wall pain is pain in the bones, cartilage, or muscles that
make up the chest wall. Chest wall pain occurs in a specific area of the chest
and may feel worse when pressure is applied to the area.
Chest wall pain can be caused by many problems, including:
An injury, such as a blow to the
Prolonged or violent coughing, which can strain the muscles
or ligaments in the chest.
Inflammation of the cartilage of the rib
Chest wall pain usually feels different than the chest pain of a
heart attack. Breathing deeply, lying on the affected area, or moving, such as twisting to the
side or raising the arms, also can make chest wall pain feel worse.
Treatment for chest wall pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Minor chest wall pain is treated with rest, ice or heat applied to the area,
and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. If the
chest wall pain is the result of coughing, the pain should improve as the cough
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD