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Right Side Chest Pain

Usually, people only get worried about chest pain that occurs on the left side, but right side chest pain should not be neglected either. Here's why.
Bhakti Satalkar
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Chest pain is always a cause for concern, as the chest is the home to various organs of the body. These include the heart, lungs, esophagus, ribs, muscles, etc. Any problem with any one of the organs can trigger chest pain. Pain on the left is usually caused due to cardiac-related problems, whereas, pain on the right are mostly non-cardiac in nature. However, right side chest pain should not be ignored either. Given below are the likely causes of pain on the right side of the chest.
Possible Causes and Effects
Pleuritis Inflammation
Pleuritis, also known as pleurisy, is an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the lungs and chest. A sharp pain is felt while sneezing, breathing or coughing. Viral or bacterial infections, pneumothorax and pulmonary embolism are common causes of pleurisy chest pain. A few other rare causes include cancer, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Viral Infection
Viral infection like flu, cold, etc., can also give rise to chest pain on the right side. If the viral infection is causing chest pain, it aggravates when a deep breath is taken or while coughing. A person may experience sharp stabbing pain in the chest. This pain may travel to the arms, neck, jaw, and shoulders as well.
When a part of the lung collapses, it releases air into the cavity of the chest. This causes chest pain that may worsen while breathing. This is often caused by an injury to the chest.
Rib Subluxation
Displacement of one or more of the ribs is known as rib subluxation. This is a common cause for pain in the right, upper chest. Bending over would worsen the condition. However, this condition improves on its own in a week or two. In case of a rib fracture, the pain might further worsen by breathing or coughing.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
A common reason for pain can be GERD, commonly known as indigestion. Sometimes, the stomach acids move back up into the esophagus, indicating indigestion. Such conditions result in heartburn and chest pain. An irritated or inflamed stomach can cause indigestion too. Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol, fatty food, overeating, smoking etc., in order to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Gallbladder Diseases
Inflammation of the gallbladder is also known as Cholecystitis. This happens if a gallstone is blocking the cystic duct. Cholesterol and bile, together crystallize, inflaming the gallbladder, forming gallstones. A person may also face pain in the upper right abdomen or sternum, accompanied by a feeling of fullness, resulting from a gallbladder disease. Therefore, he may experience sharp pain in the right side of his chest and abdominal region. If there is a problem in the gallbladder, there is a high possibility of experiencing pain in the right side of the chest. An ultrasound check performed on the bladder will help in assessing the exact cause.
Lung Problems
The right lung and bronchus (breathing tube) are located in the right of the chest cavity. Lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, trigger chest pain. Other serious diseases include pulmonary embolus, cancer, pneumonia, and tuberculosis infection, which results in sharp pain that worsens while inhaling.
Liver Inflammation
Liver inflammation, also known as hepatitis, can be a major reason for such kind of pain. A person may also experience pain in the right shoulder, on the ribs in the right or in the back. There are 2 types of hepatitis; chronic hepatitis, that lasts more than 6 months, and acute hepatitis, which lasts less than six months.
Pancreas Dysfunction
The pancreas is located in the upper abdomen, hence any inflammation can result in chest pain. This cause is usually overlooked. However, it is important to examine pancreas problems as well. This pain worsens when while lying down and gets better while leaning forward.
Very often, chest pain on the right side is caused by stress at work, school, or due to personal problems. Trauma is the main cause of chest wall pain.
Food Blockage
If food or liquid chokes the esophagus, it can result in congestion, which can trigger off pain in the right side of the chest. Since the esophagus and the chest are very closely located, they share a nerve network. Therefore, problems with the esophagus tend to have an impact on the chest.
Presence of tumor or masses in and around the lungs may also cause pain in the right side of the chest.
Muscle Pull
Pull in the muscles of the chest or in the ligaments, or injury to the ribs, may give rise to right side chest pain. Muscles and tendons between the ribs can be inflamed or injured even by coughing really hard. This pain may prevail and worsen with activities. However, in most cases, this condition heals itself, but somehow, if the condition persists, a physician should be consulted.
This is an inflammation of the cartilage and the joints of the chest bone. Costochondritis is painful, but not very dangerous. The pain may shift to different places in the right side of the chest, but it will not travel to different parts of the body. Warm compresses may be used to relieve this pain.
Cardiovascular problems
Sometimes, pain on the right side of the sternum may indicate cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, angina or cardiomyopathy.
Right side chest pain is usually not caused due to any heart related ailments, hence, one should not get worked up. Heart related ailments give rise to chest pain on the left side of the chest. However, the other ailments that cause chest pain on right side should not be neglected either, as they can also prove to be fatal at times.
Readers are requested to consult a doctor immediately, if faced with any of the above symptoms. As it could be a serious matter, I would not recommend any home remedies or treatments.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.