Not only the heart: what health problems does chest pain indicate?

Unpleasant pain in the thoracic area does not always signal problems with the heart. In our material, we have collected the most common diseases that can hide behind this symptom.

Не только сердце: о каких проблемах со здоровьем говорит боль в груди?

The heart is one of the most important organs of the human body. Every day it pumps hundreds of liters of blood, but in addition to the main “work”, we load it with poor ecology, poor nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle. That is why residents of cities of any age quite often face short-term chest pains and take them for cardiac. And in most cases they are wrong. What health problems can chest pain talk about — we figured out together with neurologist and chiropractor Sergey Dlin.

Intercostal neuralgia

Intercostal neuralgia can occur due to inflammation or displacement of the intervertebral nerves and, as a rule, becomes a source of serious health problems. With neuralgia, a partial loss of sensitivity of the affected area is possible, and the pain occurs impulsively or increases as the load arrives, with coughing or mobility. This is what makes it possible to track the difference between heart pain and neuralgia: when the heart is bad, the pain is constant — it is there and does not go away, and with neuralgia it is changeable.

If you suddenly felt a sharp pain radiating to the sternum, changed your position and everything went away (it doesn’t matter for a long time or not), then this is definitely not a heart attack. Another difference between angina pectoris, which distinguishes it from neuralgia, is that with angina pectoris it hurts behind the sternum and there is a characteristic pressing sensation. With neuralgia, the pain is sharp, stabbing and mostly giving to the left side. Remember: when the heart is bad, the pain is localized not in the muscle area, but deep behind it.

Не только сердце: о каких проблемах со здоровьем говорит боль в груди?

Intervertebral hernia

This disease is characterized by a displacement of the intervertebral disc away from the proper place. The more advanced the hernia, the stronger the pain will be and the more it looks like a cardiac one. The bad news is that an intervertebral hernia is a serious matter and often requires a thorough course of treatment to restore the normal condition of the back.

But there is also good news, which is that the more advanced the case of intervertebral hernia, the easier it is to distinguish it from angina. With a hernia, not only the sternum suffers: the mobility of the spine is sharply and severely limited, weakness, dizziness, headaches, insomnia and vascular problems appear – both above and below the injured zone. Scoliosis, especially neglected, also gives a pain syndrome, but it is difficult to confuse it in this form with heart pain, since problems with the spine are pronounced.


This is not a story about the loss of vertebrae from their proper place, but about their destruction and erasure of intervertebral discs. Injuries, improper lifting of a large weight, disorders in the body and other negative aspects provoke the appearance of osteochondrosis, which is also called chameleon disease because of its ability to “pretend” angina, cholecystitis and even inflammation of the appendix. With osteochondrosis, pain often occurs, similar one-in-one to the symptoms of pathologies of neighboring organs, therefore, in order to understand what exactly hurts, you need to do an MRI and take tests.

Не только сердце: о каких проблемах со здоровьем говорит боль в груди?

Inflammation of the soft and nerve endings in the back

Persistent pain in the chest and back, characteristic of inflammation of various origins, can be distinguished from a heart attack by measuring the pressure. Until a specific source of pain is found, pay attention to the general condition and your appearance. With a heart attack, the skin turns pale sharply and the pressure drops, which is easy to track by feeling the pulse. Even with the most severe pain, the pulse will remain relatively even, and the skin will retain its natural shade if the condition is caused by inflammation.


Whatever the disease, the symptoms of which are similar to heart pain, it should be treated, and as urgently as if it were related to the heart. Any pain, whatever its source, signals that there are disorders in your body and their elimination should be attended to as soon as possible. In many cases, a course of massage or manual therapy with a good specialist, physiotherapy, wearing a soft bandage and correction of physical activity can help with spinal diseases.

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