A sudden, sharp pain in your chest may make you worry that you could have a serious heart or lung problem. But if the pain disappears almost as quickly as it came and you don’t have any other symptoms, it might be a harmless condition known as precordial catch syndrome.
Not many people know about this common cause of chest pain among children, teens, and young adults. The pain itself may feel intense, like someone has stabbed a knife into your chest. But it doesn’t cause any changes or problems in your body, and the feeling goes away in a short time.
Doctors sometimes call it Texidor’s twinge after one of the first doctors to study it.
The telltale symptom of precordial catch syndrome is a sharp pain in the left side of your chest near your heart. You may be able to pinpoint the pain to one small area. It won’t radiate to other parts of your body, like it might if it were a heart attack.
The pain may feel worse when you breathe in deeply or when you move. You may decide to stay still and take very shallow breaths while you’re in pain. If you don’t breathe deeply for a while, you may start to feel lightheaded. That isn’t a direct symptom of precordial catch syndrome. It happens because of the way you breathe.
The pain from precordial catch syndrome pain usually disappears after 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Some people may feel it for up to half an hour. Once the pain fades, you should feel normal again right away.
The sharp pain should be the only symptom you feel.
Doctors don’t know what causes precordial catch syndrome. It may be the sign of a pinched nerve or a muscle spasm within the inner lining of the chest or chest wall. It doesn’t affect your heart or lung, and it has no tie to conditions there.
In some people, it may come during a growth spurt. In others, it could happen when they’re stressed or anxious.
Precordial catch syndrome may be more likely when you sit still with poor posture. Many people have it when they're inactive, like when they slouch in front of the TV. It doesn’t tend to happen when you eat or sleep.
If you decide to see a doctor, they'll do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and your medical history. If they're certain that you don’t have any other symptoms or risk factors of another condition, you may not need to have any tests. If your doctor thinks there may be another problem, they may order an X-ray or an ultrasound.
Precordial catch syndrome pain goes away quickly, so you shouldn’t need pain medicine or other treatment.
Some people find that when they feel the intense stab of pain in their chests, a deep breath may make the pain disappear, even though it may hurt to take that deep breath. Stretches or a change in posture could also help you feel better.
Children may get precordial catch syndrome when they’re as young as 6 years old. The pain may happen only once in a lifetime, or it may come back several times.
People usually stop having this pain when they're in their 20s.