6 Questions to Ask When Your Child Complains of Chest Pain

I see this scenario quite frequently in cardiology clinic. Generally speaking, about a quarter of my new patient visits complain of the following set of symptoms at their appointment:  chest pain lasting for several months, maybe 2-4 times a week, for less than 10-20 seconds at a time, at a moderate intensity, sometimes with activity, but more often not. And the child just recently told his or her parents about it.

Understandably, the parents are worried.

But the good news is that while it’s pretty common for children to say that their chest hurts or even that their “heart hurts,” it’s rarely caused by heart disease.

Most kids will complain of chest pain sometime between age 7 and their teenage years, but thankfully, it will be caused by an underlying heart condition in less than 1% of them. More frequently it is related to a viral illness, stress, or most commonly, musculoskeletal pain.

It is my hope that this information will give parents a little peace of mind: the pain manifesting in your child’s chest is rarely caused by heart disease. But I also understand how concerning it can be for parents, and sometimes further investigation may be necessary to narrow down the cause. So where should parents start?

I suggest answering the following questions:

  1. Has my child been sick recently?
    One of the more common causes of chest pain in children is from costochondritis. This is a condition characterized by inflammation in the joint between the breastbone and the ribs, typically caused by a viral illness or frequent coughing. Costochondritis is not concerning, but in some cases it can be long lasting and your child may need a prescription anti-inflammatory to get rid of it.
  2. Was my child injured recently?
    If your child was hit in the chest during a sporting event or even a fall, this could be a more obvious cause of the chest pain. However, even heavy lifting, frequent coughing, or intense aerobic exercise can strain the rib muscles and cause chest pain. You’ll want to contact your pediatrician if the pain is severe, persistent, or associated with difficulty breathing.
  3. Is my child stressed?
    While it might be difficult to imagine a 7-year-old being stressed, school pressures and the loss of a loved one, for example, can all contribute to feelings of stress. What may be even more surprising is that stress can cause chest pain. While chest pain caused by stress is harmless – it’s really no different than a stress-related headache – the duration of the pain is understandably worrisome for parents.
  4. When does it hurt?
    Does it hurt when your child is sitting down, or only when he or she is active? Chest pain from non-cardiac causes usually happens both when a child is at rest and when they are active. My first question is often whether the pain occurs during gym class or while watching TV. Chest pain that only happens with or immediately following moderate to vigorous activity, such as while running and playing competitive sports, is a different matter which does warrant further medical investigation.
  5. How long has it been hurting?
    Has it been going on for months or even years? If yes, then it is almost certainly not caused by heart disease. Chest pain caused by cardiac disease is either so severe that no child could cover it up or ignore it, or it is progressive and associated with other problems such as passing out or worsening fatigue, that it would be highly unusual for the symptoms to continue over several months. However, non-cardiac chest pain is the very opposite; it can often by ignored, is not associated with other concerns, and often just lingers in the background.
  6. How painful is it? Mild-to-moderate or severe?
    Typically mild-to-moderate chest pain is not related to the heart, and isn’t a cause for concern. However, the more concerning chest pain is when the pain is sudden and severe. Typically it will hurt so bad that your child will not want to go to school and will look like he or she is struggling with the pain. This kind of pain is most often caused by pericarditis, which is an inflammatory condition of the heart. Thankfully, pericarditis is very rare. But what’s interesting about it is that it’s the most common reason that a child’s chest pain is related to the heart. If your child has sudden onset of severe chest pain that is continuous and often occurs around the same time of an illness – contact your child’s pediatrician that same day.

The vast majority of the time, chest pain in children is not related to the heart. While there is no single medical history question or medical test that can determine the source of chest pain, hopefully the six questions discussed above can help parents and teens narrow down what’s potentially worrisome and what’s not. If you have any concerns at all, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician, and have your answers to the above questions ready. They will help steer your pediatrician in the right direction.

Editor’s note: For more frequent heart and health-related thoughts, follow Dr. Madsen on twitter: @MadsenNicolas

Dr. Nicolas Madsen

About the Author: Dr. Nicolas Madsen

Nicolas Madsen, MD, is a cardiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute, with special interest in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. He is focused on research and community outreach programs to find better ways to screen and educate children and adolescents regarding their risks for heart disease or sudden cardiac arrest.

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Comments

  1. Deb June 06, 17:38
    My grandson is 13 and occasionally complains of burning in his chest. Of course I'm a worrying grandmother. He also had some spells of dizziness while playing basketball this year. He has mentioned a couple of times that "it was hard to breathe". His mother took him to the family Dr. and they said that it was probably dehydration . Can someone please put this grandmother's mind at ease. I have watched Dr. Madsen's video , but I am still not certain with his symptoms. Thanks
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper June 08, 08:40
      Hi Deb, It is difficult to offer perspective on your grandson's health in this format (Q&A on a website, without the benefit of having all necessary information). If you still have concerns about your grandson, getting another doctor's thoughts may offer peace of mind.
    • bryan October 30, 04:41
      he might have what i have which is significant anxiety, go read up on it. its not deadly but effects the upbringing and cause mental illness
  2. rosie June 23, 18:26
    thanks for putting me at ease my 11 year o9ld complains frequently but he is a rough boy and maybe pulled a muscle.
  3. katie2704 June 27, 06:55
    Thank you for this - as the parent of a child with a hear murmur who has a tendancy to panic it is the most reassuring and informative article I read on the subject of chest pain in kids
  4. angel July 19, 03:19
    i have a 14 yr old son, at birth he had a murmur which doc said was ok enough to be discharged and sent home,but recently he complains of severe chest pains and he is quite big in built compared to other 14 yr olds, he was born at 4.5kg,my sugar levels were very high during pregnancy and five years after birth i became diabetic, please help me put my mind at ease as a mom about my son
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper July 19, 09:38
      Hi Angel, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this blog post, as it may help give you peace of mind. If you are still concerned, a visit to your child's regular doctor is never a bad idea.
  5. Pradip August 04, 11:11
    Hi my son is suffering from instantaneos chest pain for a couple of second since last 3/4 days.It's once/twice in a day with little bit breathing thru mouth. Should i worried about it?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 04, 15:28
      Hi Pradip, I'm sorry to hear that your son is having chest pain. If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. His explanation about what's concerning and what isn't might be helpful in your situation. If you're still concerned, a trip to his doctor is never a bad idea.
  6. Annie August 04, 15:01
    I have a 16yr boy who practices sports and weight lifts. While practicing his warmup running for his football practice has been complaining of pain on his left side like higher than where the ribs are. It comes when he is running or jogging , and will go away after a while. Does not feel any pain during the rest of the practice or the rest of the day. He was weight lifting , not a lot of weight, before practice. Says he did not notice any pain while weightlifting. Has stopped the weight lifting just in case.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 04, 15:31
      Hi Annie, You might consider watching the video at the top of this post with your son. Dr. Madsen walks through symptoms that are concerning and not concerning, and it might help you decide if a trip to his doctor is warranted.
  7. Kayla August 06, 21:00
    My 13 year old daughter is complaining about her lower left side of her chest hurting, she says that it lasts for about 3-4 minutes and it is hard for her to breath when it occurs. What should I do to help her reduced the pain when it happens?
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author August 10, 16:02
      Hi Kayla, Sorry to hear that your daughter is having this left sided chest pain. Given the description, this sounds like musculoskeletal pain. I imagine it is hard for her to breath because of the pain, as deeper breaths cause more movement of the chest wall itself. The duration (3-4 minutes) is too short for things like ibuprofen to make much of a difference. Have you tried a warm pack on the area? That would at least reach the target while she is having the pain. However, if the pain is quite frequent or increasing in intensity, it might be wise to discuss this with her doctor to sort out if other causes (non-heart related) are possible. Hope that helps.
  8. katytrack August 09, 01:48
    I am a 15 year old elite athlete. All summer I have trained 4-9 hours a day outside on the track. I was born with two holes in my heart which the doctors said healed completely. About 8 months ago, I will just be laying in bed and suddenly have, as Dr. Madsen described, sharp stabbing pains in the chest. Usually I just blow it off like it's no big deal but tonight I experienced more pain than just in my chest area. My chest and left shoulder seemed to have seized up at the exact same time. I was with my mother and she thinks it is just acid reflux because I also have an ulcer. I personally don't think my heart problem was ever solved. What should I do?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 09, 15:38
      Hi Katytrack, If you have any concerns at all, scheduling an appointment with your doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  9. crystal August 19, 09:08
    My daughter is 11. she has been complaining of a headache, dizziness, a very mild temp and chest pains. Last night the chest pain woke her up. Do you think this is stress starting the new school year or something more?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 21, 05:50
      Hi Crystal, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It might be helpful in helping to assess what's worrisome and what isn't. If you still have concerns, a trip to your daughter's doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  10. Wendy August 20, 08:22
    My 10 year old granddaughter has been getting pain in the centre of her back and in the centre of her chest at the same time. This has been happening on a daily basis whether she is active or resting. She has been under a lot of stress lately and has also been suffering from a cold. She is slightly overweight and tall for her age. She is also an early developer. Should I get her tested for cholesterol? Are there any other tests I should get done for her?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 22, 07:38
      Hi Wendy, It's hard to say in this format what tests would be appropriate for your granddaughter. I recommend watching Dr. Madsen's video at the top of the post and then utilizing the answers to his questions to determine if a trip to her doctor is warranted.
  11. Mica August 21, 08:15
    My daughter is 10 and she complains of chest pains and her heart only at night when its bedtime. Should this be a concern for me?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 22, 07:35
      Hi Mica, I am sorry to hear that your daughter is having chest pain. If you haven't already, you might want to watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post with your daughter. He explains what is potentially worrisome and what isn't. If you're still having concerns, a trip to her doctor is never a bad idea.
  12. Jackie August 28, 21:32
    Hello, my son is 15 years old. He has a concave chest wall. He has been complaining and has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He says now that his " chest hurts all the time". He says anxiety makes it " hurt worst". Should I push for further evaluation of his heart? The pediatrician says he could be candidate for chest wall device to improve concave chest. He just started Zoloft and has already tried celexa for the anxiety and depression. I just worry there may be underling issue or is is this all anxiety.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper August 30, 08:57
      Hi Jackie, If you continue to be concerned, checking in with your doctor is never a bad idea.
  13. nana September 19, 18:08
    my daughter is 9 years old and today she was complaining in a pain in her chest, i took her to the doctor and she said i might be the cartilage since when she press on her chest , she felt some pain. It is the first time that something like that happen to her, she scares me to death , but the pain is not that severe. what do you think it is?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper September 21, 12:34
      Hi nana, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this blog post. It might provide you with some peace of mind.
  14. NyanCat October 01, 20:15
    This has been going on for years, it doesn't matter if I'm being active or sitting on the couch, my heart hurts randomly, me and my mom have went to doctors, but they do not notice anything they just say I'm fine. The pain isn't bad enough for me to have to go home for school or anything, but I usually put my hand on my heart and breath deep breaths until it goes away. I am 10 and I would appreciate and answer, thank you.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper October 03, 06:33
      Hi NyanCat, If you haven't already, please watch the video at the top of Dr. Madsen's blog post. It may give you peace of mind about what's concerning and what isn't.
  15. Sam October 25, 20:22
    My friend is a 16 year female. Recently she has experienced chest pain only with exertion. Even just walking. She was sent for exercise evaluation which found nothing and cardiac evaluation which found a leaky mitral valve but the dr wasn't concerned. The family feels at a loss and aren't sure what direction to move in. Any thoughts and advice are appreciated. Thank you
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author October 26, 14:45
      Hi Sam – It’s nice of you to help your friend. It sounds reassuring that your friend has seen a cardiac specialist who was not too concerned about the chest pain. While chest pain with exertion only is a trigger to a cardiac evaluation, thankfully it does not mean that something is necessarily wrong with the heart in a fashion that is dangerous or threatening. Most of the time, chest pain with exertion only is caused by something other than the heart. However, it sounds like the doctors discovered a leaky valve. While it is impossible for me to comment too specifically on this without the data and images, what I can say is that mild degrees of leakiness of valves is common. When the leakiness (or backwards flow) is mild, it does not usually cause harm (and certainly will not be the cause of chest pain). If your friend is still worried, it is always OK to seek a formal second opinion from another specialist. Sometimes that is all that is needed to provide the necessary reassurance. Hope that helps.
  16. Sammie November 04, 01:09
    My sixteen year old daughter is complaining of chest pain. She says that in the middle of her chest, it feels like something is heavy in her chest or something is squeezing her chest. She says she feels very weak and the pain in her chest is discomforting. She is obese for her age, but she is healthy and maintains a healthy diet and is tall. I checked her blood pressure and it's high though. What should i do?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper November 04, 04:48
      Hi Sammie, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It may provide some peace of mind. If you still have concerns, a trip to her doctor is never a bad idea.
  17. dymelza November 07, 23:25
    my 12 year old was in the supermarket and got a sharp long pain that lasted about 15 minutes in the center of his chest, he was brought to tears, he says this has happened 3 times now, should i be worried?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper November 08, 06:32
      Hi Dymelza, If you haven't already, please watch the video at the top of the post. Dr. Madsen outlines what is worrisome and what isn't. It might help give you peace of mind. If you continue to be concerned, a trip to your child's doctor is never a bad idea.
  18. Sophie November 22, 20:39
    Hi, I am 15 years old and for the past 2 years I have had chest pains, mainly toward my left side, and shoulder pain, once again, mainly toward my left side. When I first started feeling the pains I went to the doctor, and they diagnosed me with Costochondritis. She said that my joints feel tender and when she pressed on them it hurt. So when I searched on the internet about the condition, I saw that it usually only lasts a week or 2. I am a vegetarian and I think I lack in iron, if that could have anything to do with it... but the pains came before my diet changed. It usually doesn't hurt when I am exercising. However, sometimes when I take a deep breath in there is a sharp pain. Usually when the pain comes I would press down on where it is, which is usually from the very side of my rib, or my shoulder, or just below my breast, and then the pain would be ok, which makes me think that it has something to do with my ribs/bones. I am not sure but this has brought me a lot of nervousness over the past two years.
  19. Barbie November 26, 10:23
    My 20 year old daughter just started complaining of left sided chest pain radiating to the left part of her upper back, she says it hurts to take a deep breath, she is on birth control and she does have anxiety, my concern is a possible blood clot, as suggestions?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper November 28, 07:20
      Hi Barbie, If you have concerns, a trip to your daughter's doctor is never a bad idea, especially for peace of mind.
  20. hayley November 29, 05:30
    Hello my daughter started complaining of not being able to breathe properly about five days ago. The school called me as she has felt unwell at school. I went to the GP who gave me an inhaler to try over the weekend, this makes absolutely no difference. He mentioned that she has been on nitrofuratoin due to UTIs and this can affect the lungs but he was hoping it was not the cause. We were to go back in two weeks if no improvement. Its only been five days. She is not obviously struggling to breathe and can do most things but doesn't feel like it. This morning she said it feels like someone is stabbing either side of her lungs. What should I do? many thanks for any help or advice
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper November 30, 13:18
      Hi Hayley, I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is not feeling well. It would be difficult for Dr. Madsen to give you specific advice via this format. If you continue to be concerned, a follow-up appointment or second opinion is never a bad idea.
  21. Kau December 05, 00:55
    My son is 10 years old and was born with multiple congenital heart defects (IAA, ASD, VSD, PDA , BAV, and developed AS) but it wasn't discovered until he was 6 weeks old with surgery to repair IAA,ASD, VSD and PDA. He's had Valvuplasty done twice to try to widen the BAV with moderate success. But he had to have that valve replaced last year with a mechanical valve, and due to going into heart block during that surgery, he had to have a pacemaker surgically implanted a few days later. Since then he's complained of chest pains randomly with it sometimes causing vibrations, sometimes stabbing pain, and most recently he says he feels like his heart has stopped causing him to cough. It has occurred both while active and resting. I have spoken to his cardiologist about it, but he never gives me a direct answer, kind of likes of no concern to him. But its been almost a year and half since his surgery and he's still having these random "pains". I'm at my wits end and I don't know what to tell him when he complains about these pains. He feels like I don't really care about him because I'm not doing anything. What is your opinion or suggestion? Any response would be greatly appreciated.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper December 07, 07:39
      Hi Kau, If your cardiologist is not able to provide you with a more clear and understandable answer, then seeking a second opinion would be reasonable.
  22. Tau December 08, 09:32
    Hey there I have been having chest Pain for the last 5 days. It is mostly continuous. Mainly caused if there is stress on my chest( i.e. lowering down, turning in the left side, doing push ups) If the If i do some physical exercise the pain may go up just a bit. It is hurting in both right and left chest. It's bit more in the left chest. The pain increases while having cold shower. The pain was in the left side of the chest (where the joint between two ribs bone is)for the first three days now its more central. I am really worried about it. Information: Age: 17 Gender: Boy No previous cardiac complications Sorry for my poor anatomical knowledge.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper December 09, 10:33
      Hi Tau, I am sorry to hear that you've been experiencing chest pain. If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at at the top of this post. It may help you determine what is concerning and what isn't. If you still have concerns, please discuss them with your parents and trip to the doctor is never a bad idea for peace of mind.
  23. Nina?? December 10, 16:34
    Hi I'm an 11 year old girl and yesterday afternoon I got really bad pain in my upper left arm last night when I was sleeping I woke up to pain do I need to worry!?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper December 12, 07:11
      Hi Nina, If you haven't already, please speak with your parents about the pain you're experiencing. You might want to watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of the post together to help determine what symptoms may be worrisome.
  24. Maya December 30, 03:06
    Hello, my 18 year old daughter has been experiencing chest pain for awhile. She describes the pain as a lump or rock feeling below the breastbone/rib cage. When she showed me, it seemed like she was pointing to the bottom (my)right area of her lung. She only gets this pain when there is an increase in her heart rate. Some examples are going up stairs, walking around the mall or at an incline, running, carrying groceries. She only experiences chest pain and headaches, no other symptoms. She has tried OTC meds for the pain, ice and heat, stretching, and rest from activity but nothing has worked. What else can she do to help alleviate the symptoms? Thank you
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper January 03, 07:45
      Hi Maya, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It may help you sort through the worrisome and not-so-worrisome symptoms. If you're still concerned, it may be worth a trip to her doctor for peace of mind. Hope this helps!
  25. claire January 20, 06:17
    hi my 13 year old daughter has been complaining of chest pains on and off for a few months now and says she sometimes feels sick with it, it is generally in morning or when sat around. do i need to see a GP or is it down to growing pains thanks
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper January 23, 09:40
      HI Claire, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It may help you determine what symptoms are worrisome and what aren't. If you still have concerns, a trip to your child's doctor is never a bad idea.
  26. Ella January 20, 06:23
    Hi, my 13 year old daughter has been feeling pain in her left side of the chest first it was while breathing and now it has moved to her left side of the breast and it happens if she moves her arm or sometimes even just sitting, is this something I should be worried about?She has also been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia she's been taking iron supplements
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper January 23, 09:41
      Hi Ella, I recommend watching Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post -- it may help you determine if your daughter's symptoms are worrisome or not. If you're still concerned, scheduling an appointment with your child's doctor may provide peace of mind.
  27. jane January 25, 14:40
    My son is 11 years old and has been complaining of pain by his heart what could it be ?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper January 26, 12:52
      Hi Jane, It's difficult to say in this format. If you haven't already, I recommend you watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It may give you some insight about what's worrisome related to your son's chest pain. If you are still concerned, a trip to his doctor is never a bad idea.
  28. Concerned Mother February 11, 21:27
    Hello, I am a mother with mytro valve prolapse and I have not experienced an episode inba while, however my 2 children, 7 & almost 13 are complaining and experiencing symptoms that I know well. It just started with my daughter, 7. My husband and I have just seperated, which is when it started for my daughter. Their biological father has an enlarged heart. Where do you draw the line between stress and an actual medical condition? I've read so often that these pains are normal in childhood years & the timing appears to be stress with an evident divorce ahead. I have a visit scheduled but it seems so difficult to tell the difference. Doctors visits usually end with...well it could be this, this, or this...but and then no real answers... I just don't have too much faith in the system, or I've seen too many wrong doctors only in it for the $
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author February 14, 09:29
      Hi Concerned Mother, You are absolutely correct that stress can produce new symptoms in children, and chest pain seems to be one of the most common types. But you are right, how do you know when a stressed child is having a new symptom not related to the stress? It can be very confusing. While I understand your point, I would start with a visit to your daughter’s doctor. If I was the doctor, I would want to know more about your mitral valve prolapse history and your daughter’s father’s enlarged heart (like is there a know diagnosis? some type of cardiomyopathy?). In your child’s case, I think a careful exam, and potentially an EKG, could go a long way to help clarifying the source of this chest pain. Overall, stress is a lot more likely to be the cause, but given all the other pieces you share, I think a doctor visit is the best place to start. Hope that helps.
  29. L February 15, 19:11
    Hi my son has been having a crushing pain near the centre of his chest also he feels needles all over when he is stressed the pain in the chest isn't very painful but it's moderate and he also has pain around his nipple sharp pls reply U
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper February 16, 08:25
      Hi L, If you haven't already, I recommend watching Dr. Madsen's video at the top of the post. It may be helpful to help determine what symptoms are worrisome. If you still have concerns, a trip to your son's doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  30. Brenda February 16, 10:35
    My daughter complains of chest pain at nights. she tells me that is on her left side and if I tried to put some pressure it hurts. should i be worry. I massage the area and she falls sleep but this has been happening for a couple of nights. thank you.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper February 17, 05:09
      Hi Brenda, I am sorry to hear that your daughter has been experiencing chest pain. As Dr. Madsen explains, it is rarely caused by the heart in kids. His video at the top of this post may help you determine what is worrisome and what isn't. If you still have concerns, a trip to her doctor may offer you peace of mind.
  31. G'grandmother Mae Mae February 18, 20:33
    My great granddaughter that is 4 years old has been complaining of her heart hurting off & on for the past 6 mo this now. I asked her what does the hurt feel like ? ( she once got hold of my sewing needle & stuck her finger) I asked like when you stuck your finger with Mae mae's ( that is whT she calls me) sewing needle & she said no not like that. I saud then now dies it feel she took her hand & pushed on the center of my chest really hard & saud like that. I took my hand & pressed back on hers & saud like this & she said yes like that. I know that is pressure because I have heart trouble & have had triple bypass myself in 2008 & my mother ( all of her family) had heart trouble ) my mom had open heart surgery back in the 60's. I have CAD & Angina. My granddaughter ( my g'granddaughter's mother just had a miscarriage about 2 weeks ago) her OB-GYN asked her if heart trouble runs in her family & my granddaughter saI'd yes on her moms side ( my side of family) I know mine started with bad pressure in my chest like an elephant sitting on top of my chest. I finally had a heart attack & had to have emergency surgery. So im very concerned about my g'granddaughter. What do you think I should do?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper February 24, 04:13
      Hi G'grandmother Mae Mae, I'm sorry to hear that your granddaughter is having chest pain! If you haven't already, watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post -- it explains further which symptoms are related to the heart. If you still have concerns, a trip to her doctor is never a bad idea.
  32. Drea February 23, 05:58
    My son is 5 years old. He is experiencing chest pain. He said my heart hurts. The school calls me every week for this pain he is experiencing. I took him to cardio. Doc they did EKG, and sonogram check his vitals . The heart is ok. He hasnt complained about this pain for a week now. Yesterday he said while he was eating (rice chicken) he said i dont feel good my chest burns. He has some water i watch him. last night he still complains about the pain. I put heating pad on chest. He said he's better now and went to sleep. What is causing this pain? Thnk u
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper February 24, 04:20
      Hi Drea, There are quite a few causes of chest pain in children. Some of the most common are viral illness, an injury, musculoskeletal pain, and stress.
  33. Jocelyn February 23, 11:10
    My six year old son had open heart surgery a bit less than 11 months ago to repair a large ASD that had not been detected until he was 5 1/2. His heart was "huge" in the words of the surgeon at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. He has been recently complaining of chest pains (heart pain) with and without activity and trouble breathing when he lays on his back. I just had him in to the cardiologist for EKG, Echocardiogram, blood work and a chest x-ray. It all came back "normal" so the cause of his troubles are a mystery. If you have any thoughts on this, I would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author February 27, 07:38
      Jocelyn – thank you for the question. I am glad to hear that everything checked out OK at the cardiologist’s office. As you are aware, clearly the situation you are describing is a little different than the usual circumstances described in this blog. As a result, I am afraid my answer will be a little non-specific. Overall, a 6 year old with a history of heart surgery can still experience all the “normal” non-cardiac reasons for chest pain that are described on this blog. Very simply stated, the history of heart surgery and present day chest pain may be entirely unrelated. Of course, this conclusion is one you need to arrive at after a thorough evaluation. It seems that the first pass evaluation was quite complete – there is no fluid around the heart, the heart rhythm looked normal, and the sternal wires used to close the chest were in a good position. As a result, my answer would be share with the cardiologist that the symptoms continue and ask if he/she believes that more evaluation would be fruitful. The answer may be “no” and you would then have to decide how settled you feel with that information. I hope that helps (a little) and best of luck. I hope its just common non-cardiac chest pain and it is only the timing (in relation to surgery) that is confusing.
  34. Dee March 06, 19:56
    My daughter is 16 and 2 weeks ago she developed tongue gum and nose ulcers, now she started complaint of chest pain. Could this be something viral or perhaps lupus?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper March 07, 07:13
      Hi Dee, I think it would probably be best to follow up with your child's doctor, where he or she will have the benefit of a full exam and access to all of the necessary information to help determine what's going on.
  35. Teen pain March 08, 09:29
    What treatment is recommended for chest muscle pain? We have tried ibuprofen and she says it doesn't relieve the pain. She has had an EKG and chest X-ray to rule out heart or lung issues.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author March 09, 10:48
      Hi teen pain, You are correct, ibuprofen is typically the first line of pain treatment for the musculoskeletal chest pain. However, as you have experienced, it is not always effective. My first question would be how you are using the ibuprofen? Are you using it as a “rescue” pain reliever at the time of severe pain, or is it being taken regularly to “prevent” the onset of the pain? I find that in terms of a “rescue” pain medication for this kind of teen chest pain, it is only marginally helpful. Often the pain is gone on its own by the time the ibuprofen “kicks in”, or it simply is not enough to provide the needed relief. As a result, I think of ibuprofen as better at “preventing” the pain by taking it regularly. However, I would caution that this method can lead to other side effects of the medication (stomach pain in particular). Therefore, if this strategy is chosen, I would encourage only using the ibuprofen regularly for 1-2 weeks and with the benefit of a GI protecting-medication like zantac or prilosec. Often this regular use of ibuprofen for 1-2 weeks can help calm the inflammation and once the therapy is complete, the pain is gone or not as severe and more tolerable. If neither of those approaches with ibuprofen (rescue or prevention) work, then I’m afraid there are not a lot of other good options. I have not seen any large benefit with other medications like Tylenol or Aleve over ibuprofen that suggests these agents work better. One therapy that I have seen work well for some teens is regular exercise and stretching (like a form of yoga). Sometimes this option is difficult for teens because the pain limits their activity. However, a slow and steady weekly increase in the activity has been of great benefit in some of the teens that I have cared for in my practice. Hope that helps.
  36. Sophia March 08, 22:59
    I'm 12 and freaking out! There is a sharp stabbing pain in my chest. Whenever I move suddenly it hurts. I just had step throat and am not completely sure I got over it since I do play the tuba. Do you think I have rheumatic fever?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper March 09, 07:48
      Hi Sophia, I'm sorry to hear you're having this symptom. If you haven't already, speak with your parents about your chest pain. As a next step, I would recommend watching Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post with them. It may give you an idea of whether your parents should schedule a visit with your doctor.
  37. GeorgeWC March 11, 13:38
    Hi there, I am 13 years old. When I move suddenly my heart aches, then I have trouble breathing for about 1 minute. I cant walk right, and I have a massive headache when this happens. I have told my parents, and they say and I quote "Buck up" or "Grow a backbone" . I would like to see a doctor. I have not broken any of my bones. I yes, I have watched the video. What do I have. Is my ventricle or Aorta not working right?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper March 13, 07:32
      Hi GeorgeWC, I am sorry to hear that you've been having these symptoms. Unfortunately, in this type of format, it is difficult to predict what is causing your pain. I do recommend having a further conversation with your parents about the potential to see a doctor. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind.
  38. Aidan March 25, 10:15
    Hi, I'm a 13 year old boy and right in the middle of my chest it hurts very minimally down in sort of a line. My parents tell me it's probably fine but I'm still worrying about it. Do you think it's anything serious or no?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper March 30, 09:06
      Hi Aidan, If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post with your parents. Together, it may help you decide whether or not your symptoms are worrisome.
  39. Polly April 24, 20:27
    Hi my 10 yr old son has chest pains, some of them bring him to his knees he swallowed a button battery 3 yes ago which had to be surgically removed could this cause his chest pain.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper April 26, 06:52
      Hi Polly, I am sorry to hear about your son's chest pain! I think his situation might be a little different than what Dr. Madsen has outlined in this blog. It is probably best for you to follow up with your son's doctor to determine what the cause might be and if his chest pain is concerning.
  40. Concerned Mom May 28, 04:26
    Thank you for this informative post. My 10 year old complains of chest pain after exercise and I am going to bring him into his doctor for further evaluation. He has had this pain off and on for a year, he tells me! Judging from your description this is probably caused by musculoskeletal pain but I'm going to get him further evaluated to rule out other reasons. Thank you.
  41. bailelm June 01, 12:32
    My 15 year old so is complaining of pain in his left arm and left side ribs?? Is this his muscles or something he needs to be seen for?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper June 02, 04:37
      Hi Bailelm, I"m sorry to hear that your son is experiencing chest pain. If you haven't already, please watch the video at the top of this blog post. Dr. Madsen explains which symptoms are worrisome and which may be due to things like musculoskeletal pain. If you are still concerned, an appointment with his doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  42. Worried Mom June 07, 14:22
    Hi Dr. Madsen My son is 7 and he has been complaining of pain by the tip of the sternum since last August 2016. It only painful when he plays soccer or run for a long period of time. We did see a cardiologist and had ECG, X-ray done and everything turned out to be normal. However, he is still having bad chest pain now-a-day and now he said it hurts on the right chest too. He really loves to play soccer and I'm worry I might need to pull him out of the team if he's still experiencing pain every time he plays. Will kids grow out of this and how long ? or should I take him back to Cardiologist again? Do you think he might have inflammation? it only hurts when he runs otherwise he is healthy kid. Please help. I'm desperate to help him feel better and be able to join sport team. Thanks.
    • Dr. Nicolas Madsen
      Dr. Nicolas Madsen Author June 08, 12:06
      Dear Worried Mom, Thanks for your question. As you might have read in this blog, chest pain only with exercise does require more attention than the typical chest pain in pediatrics. So I agree with your original decision to see cardiology. However, it sounds like the evaluation was reassuring, which is great…..and this is not surprising. Even though chest pain only with exercise makes a cardiac source more likely, the heart is still not the source of most episodes of chest pain in kids with this presentation. Since you are considering resting your son from a healthy activity that he likes, I would start with a visit back to the pediatrician. Might there be any reason to suspect reactive airway disease like asthma? I would investigate other reasons for these symptoms. Rest assured that even chest pain like your son’s typical will go away on its own with a little time. I hope he feels better soon.
  43. Jj123 June 21, 04:00
    Hi I am a thirteen year old girl and I have had chest pain. This is the Third time in a few months it only happens at night and when I am laying down I have no clue what to do or expect from this I have told someone about this but they say I was probably just tired or stressed out if you have any information or advice for me I would really love to hear it.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper June 21, 09:15
      Hi Jj123, I'm sorry to hear that you're experiencing chest pain! I would first recommend that you tell your parents about it. You might even find it helpful to watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post together. It may help you determine whether your symptoms are the typical non-heart related chest pain that many adolescents experience. If you are still concerned, a trip to your doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  44. elomeloyelo July 11, 10:18
    My son is 17 years old and has been at home for the summer, football practice began yesterday. He came home and complained of a sore chest. I asked if he had been hit in the chest or had been doing heavy weights that might cause him to be sore and he answered no. This morning he stated that his chest was no longer sore but was in a lot of pain, he stated that when he breathes deeply or coughs, he has shooting pains in his chest. He is now complaining that his neck hurts. He has asthma so I asked if he was short of breath, to which he said no. Since he is the one that never complains about ANYTHING, I am worried. Thanking you in advance for any assistance.
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper July 17, 09:52
      Hi elomeloyelo, I am sorry to hear that your son is experiencing chest pain. If you haven't already, please watch Dr. Madsen's video at the top of this post. It may help you determine which symptoms are worrisome. If you're still concerned, a trip to the doctor for peace of mind is never a bad idea.
  45. Shay July 11, 12:31
    Hi. I'm a 10 year old girl and I have chest tightness, but no pain. This started a couple of days ago, and I haven't told my parents yet. I think that it was because I was swimming and when I was walking on my knees in the water, it all started. The tightness feels like it's in the upper-middle part of my chest. Some of my throat too. Should I be worried? And will it heal on its own?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper July 17, 10:10
      Hi Shay, I think your first step should be informing your parents about the pain you are experiencing. It might be helpful to watch Dr. Madsen's video together to determine if your symptoms are worrisome and if they require further exploration with your doctor.
  46. Worried mum July 15, 06:31
    Hi my 6 year old daughter is complsining of s sore heart. It started yestersday after her and her big sister were fighting, she seemed to have a panic attack. I took her to the dr today because of a sore tummy. He said it was a bit tender on left hand side, but nothing to worry about. Her chest pain is a new thing. She has vomitted twice and hasnt been able to poo for 2 days. Prior to this she said it hurt when she peed and her bum was itchy. She is still walking aroubd normally has no temp, playung i pad etc. Should i take her up to hospital????? Worried mum
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper July 17, 10:13
      Hi Worried mum, I think your best bet would be to follow up with your daughter's doctor, who you saw previously and will have all of the necessary medical information in front of him/her. He/She can help you determine best next steps.