Many people experience precordial catch syndrome (PCS), a condition that causes the sensation of a stabbing pain around the heart that gets worse when you breathe. Also called Texidor’s twinge, it may be alarming but is not serious and is not a medical emergency. But what is precordial catch syndrome, and why do some people experience it?
What does precordial catch syndrome feel like?
Precordial catch syndrome is a condition that causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest. It occurs in a small area usually about the size of one or two fingertips below the left nipple. The pain usually begins suddenly with no obvious trigger and worsens when you breathe deeply.
What causes precordial catch syndrome?
“Precordial” means “in front of the heart,” which identifies where the pain occurs rather than the source or cause of it. Experts believe that precordial catch syndrome occurs when nerves in the inner lining of the chest wall are pinched or irritated, possibly the ribs, cartilage or the lining of the lung, called the pleura.
Often, it begins when you are at rest and especially if you are slouched over or have bad posture. Children and adolescents who experience precordial catch syndrome may also be going through a growth spurt, which can trigger episodes of the condition.
How long does precordial catch syndrome last, and who can get it?
Pain caused by precordial catch syndrome begins suddenly, and it stops almost as quickly as it appears. It can last for a few seconds and up to three minutes on average, and no other symptoms or complications remain once it goes away.
The condition is most common in teenagers and young adults, but children and adolescents as young as 6 years old can also experience it. While it usually goes away as you get older, some cases do continue into adulthood.
Is precordial catch syndrome dangerous?
As a condition on its own, precordial catch syndrome is not dangerous. However, because it can cause you to take shallow breaths for a period of time, you can experience some momentary lightheadedness. Also, the inability to breathe deeply or location of the pain can cause anxiety in some people or even lead to panic attacks.
How do I treat it?
As we mentioned, precordial catch syndrome is not serious and does not leave lasting damage. Slow, gentle breaths can help ease the pain. Since poor posture can trigger it, sitting or standing taller may help prevent future episodes. Your primary care physician may also recommend taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.
However, since it is common in children, you may want to speak to your child’s doctor if they complain of chest pain. They’ll be able to rule out anything lung- or heart-related pretty quickly but may run other tests if other symptoms are present.
However, some additional symptoms may point to a more serious issue. You should call 911 if you or a child:
- Feel lightheaded or nauseated
- Have a severe headache
- Experiencing shortness of breath
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