Pericarditis and Chest Pain

People can suffer from chest pains for many different reasons. One possible cause is a condition known as pericarditis, which is the swelling and irritation of the pericardium, a saclike tissue around the heart. The pain from pericarditis is usually sharp, and happens because the pericardium’s irritated layers rub against one another. Fortunately, pericarditis tends to be mild and usually goes away on its own, not requiring treatment. However, there are more severe cases, and any chest pain should be treated as serious. Here is some information to help you understand it better.

What Are the Symptoms of Pericarditis?

The most common symptom of pericarditis is that sharp chest pain, though it may also spread to the left shoulder and the neck. The pain could worsen when you lay down, take a deep breath, or cough, and may feel better when you sit up or lean forward. Some other symptoms and signs may be:

Pericarditis may be acute (lasting no longer than three weeks) and may return. Recurrent pericarditis is when it returns after 4 to 6 weeks without symptoms between the events. You may have incessant pericarditis where it lasts less than three months, or chronic constrictive pericarditis, which is slow to develop, but lasts longer than three months.

What Causes Pericarditis?

The cause of any specific case of pericarditis can be difficult to find, and may not always be discovered. It may be an immune system response after a person suffers heart damage as a result of heart surgery or a heart attack. Pericarditis may also be caused by:

How is Pericarditis Diagnosed?

Pericarditis is most easily diagnosed using a stethoscope, as the condition causes a sound called a pericardial rub. Your physician will run blood tests, as well, to see if there are signs of a heart attack, infection, and inflammation. They may also conduct an x-ray or echocardiogram, which uses ultrasound technology to see if there is fluid buildup around the heart. They may also use a cardiac computerized tomography (or CT) scan to see if the heart has thickened, or use MRI technology to see cross-sections of the heart to show inflammation, thickening, or other signs of problems in the tissue that surrounds the heart.

How is Pericarditis Treated?

Your doctor will determine the best course of action if it is determined that you have pericarditis. It may be as simple as the prescription of pain relievers (over-the-counter medications are sometimes also recommended), or a drug called colchicine, which reduces inflammation and can be used to treat recurring bouts of pericarditis. Corticosteroids are also sometimes prescribed to reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, such as when pericarditis causes fluid buildup or has hardened due to pericarditis, surgery may be the best option.

Maryland Pain & Wellness

You Might Also Enjoy...

Therapy Options for Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain, often described as a shooting or burning sensation, is a complex condition that arises from damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. Unlike typical pain, neuropathic pain can be challenging to manage, requiring a nuanced approach...

Alternative Therapies for Back Pain

Back pain affects millions of people worldwide, hindering their daily activities and quality of life. While conventional treatments like pain medications and physical therapy can be effective, some individuals seek alternative therapies to alleviate...

Therapeutic Options for Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain can be a perplexing and debilitating condition, and can be the result of a number of causes – some of which should be treated immediately by a healthcare professional. The discomfort and distress it brings can significantly impact...

Living More Comfortably with Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain is a challenging journey that millions of people around the world face daily. Whether it's due to a medical condition, injury, or underlying health issue, chronic pain can significantly impact one's quality of life.

Tips for Dealing with Chronic Pain During the Winter

You’ve heard people with old injuries and suffering joints talk about how they can tell when bad weather is on the horizon because of all the pain they’re feeling. Maybe you’re one of those people, too. Especially with cold weather, chronic pain can be...