Pain in the right upper chest can be caused by injury to the bones, tissues, and muscles. It could also be caused by underlying conditions and mental health issues.

Pain in the right side of your chest can happen for a number of reasons. Most chest discomfort, especially on your right side, is not related to your heart.

Your chest is home to other organs and tissues that may be inflamed or injured, causing you to feel pain. Any aches you feel are most likely due to:

Keep reading to learn what may be behind your symptoms and when you should speak to your doctor.

Chest pain on the left side is typically associated with a heart attack. If you feel any pain on your right side, it’s most likely not related to your heart.

According to 2019 research, you should seek immediate medical attention if you:

  • have unexplained and unexpected severe chest pain
  • feel pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest
  • have severe pain shooting through your arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • break out into a cold sweat
  • feel weak, dizzy, or nauseous
  • have difficulty breathing

Any of these symptoms could be caused by a serious or life threatening condition, so you should seek urgent care as soon as possible.

If you’re experiencing pain on the right side of your chest, here are a few potential causes.

An anxiety disorder or extreme stress can bring on panic attacks, which can feel very similar to a heart attack, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Panic attacks can happen out of the blue or be triggered by a traumatic or stressful event in your life.

Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can include:

Panic attacks can cause chest pain from hyperventilating (breathing rapidly or deeply) since it makes your chest wall muscles go into spasms. Pain resulting from anxiety or stress can occur on either side of the chest.

Because symptoms of a panic attack can mimic those of a heart attack, you should seek immediate medical care to rule out any heart-related issues. Deep breathing exercises can also help stop a panic attack.

Trauma or overuse can cause muscle strain, which is one of the most common causes of pain on either side of your chest.

Muscle strain can happen because of intense upper body activity during sports or overworking your muscles during other intense activities. Muscle pain may also happen gradually as a result of tension or anxiety.

In most cases, resting and taking over-the-counter pain relievers are enough to ease your symptoms.

Chest pain can also happen because of tears to the pectoralis muscle, according to 2021 research. Tears are usually caused by indirect trauma or a direct blow to the chest. Blunt trauma can also result in rib fractures or rib displacement.

Symptoms of a chest injury or rib displacement include:

  • chest pain that gets worse with coughing, sneezing, or laughing
  • shortness of breath
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • tenderness

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor. They can determine whether your injury will be able to heal on its own or if treatment is necessary.

Heartburn refers to the burning sensation you feel in your chest after eating, bending over, working out, or even lying down at night. It’s usually caused by acid reflux, which happens when your stomach acid comes back up to your esophagus.

In addition to chest pain, you may:

  • feel a burning sensation in your throat
  • have difficulty swallowing
  • feel like food is stuck in the middle of your throat or chest
  • have an unexplained acidic, salty, or sour taste in the back of your throat

Indigestion refers to an upset stomach. Although indigestion usually does not cause chest pain, it may happen alongside heartburn.

Symptoms of indigestion include:

  • nausea
  • early and uncomfortable fullness after eating
  • pain, discomfort, and burning in the upper abdomen
  • bloating

Here’s how to relieve your heartburn symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into your food pipe (esophagus).

This can cause:

  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • burping
  • a sour taste in your mouth

If you’re experiencing acid reflux more than twice a week, you may have developed gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

In addition to chest pain, symptoms of GERD include:

  • heartburn
  • sore throat or hoarseness
  • a sour taste in your mouth
  • a lump-like sensation in your throat
  • dry cough
  • difficulty swallowing

Although you may be able to find relief with home remedies, you should talk with your doctor for a diagnosis. They may be able to prescribe medication to help treat or prevent symptoms.

Chest pain is one of the main symptoms of costochondritis. This condition happens when your rib cage cartilage becomes inflamed. The pain can be severe or mild. Although the pain is typically felt on the left side of your chest, it may also occur on the right side.

Other symptoms include pain in your back and abdomen and pain that worsens when you cough or take a deep breath.

Chest pain caused by costochondritis may feel similar to a heart attack or other heart-related conditions, so you should seek emergency care. Your doctor can rule out any life threatening conditions.

Gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) happens when there’s a bile buildup in your gallbladder.

In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by gallstones blocking the tube that leads out of the organ. Your gallbladder may also become inflamed because of problems with your bile duct or tumors.

Cholecystitis does not cause chest pain, although it may feel like it. If your gallbladder is inflamed, you may feel intense pain in your upper right abdomen that can shoot up to your right shoulder or back.

Other symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • sweating
  • appetite loss
  • tenderness when touching your abdomen

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor for a diagnosis.

Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.

Shingles does not cause chest pain on the inside. However, it may feel like you’re having problems with your heart or lungs depending on the location of the viral infection. Shingles can be quite painful on the outside, on the skin.

In addition to a rash, your symptoms may include:

  • pain
  • burning
  • tingling or numbness
  • sensitivity to touch
  • fluid-filled blisters that crack and crust over
  • itching

Although you may be able to find relief with home remedies, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis. They’ll prescribe medication to help clear the infection.

Pleurisy happens when the membrane lining the inner side of your chest cavity and the lining over the lungs, known as the pleura, becomes inflamed. When this inflammation occurs, these linings get rough and rub against each other, causing pain.

This can cause pain on either side of your chest when you breathe in and out. It can also cause pain in your shoulders and back.

Symptoms include:

  • chest pain that gets worse with coughing, sneezing, or laughing
  • shortness of breath if you’re trying to minimize breathing in and out
  • fever or cough if the cause of the pleurisy is a lung infection

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for a diagnosis.

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of your lungs. Pneumonia will make you cough, sometimes with phlegm, which can cause pain on either side of your chest. You may also feel chest pain when you breathe.

Other symptoms of pneumonia include:

Although home remedies can relieve your symptoms, it’s important that you see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. If the infection itself is left untreated, pneumonia can become fatal.

Sudden onset of shortness of breath is the main symptom of pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung. However, it could also cause sudden pain, though not all the time. This can happen on either the right or left side of your chest and is usually the result of injury.

It may also result from lung disease, ruptured air blisters, or ventilator use.

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • rapid heart rate
  • cough
  • fatigue

If you suspect that you have a collapsed lung, seek emergency medical care.

The two types of cardiac inflammation that can cause chest pain are myocarditis and pericarditis. Myocarditis happens when your heart muscle becomes inflamed. Pericarditis refers to inflammation in the two layers of sac-like tissue (pericardium) that surrounds your heart.

Both conditions are typically caused by a type of infection and can lead to mild to severe chest pain.

Myocarditis and pericarditis share many of the same symptoms. These include:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • difficulty breathing
  • coughing
  • heart palpitations
  • fatigue
  • swelling of your legs, ankles, feet, or stomach

With pericarditis, the discomfort in your chest can be so intense that it feels like you’re having a heart attack. If you’re experiencing severe chest pain, seek emergency care to rule out any life threatening causes.

Pulmonary hypertension refers to high blood pressure in the heart-to-lung system. This can cause your heart to work harder, leading you to feel pain throughout your chest.

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath during regular activity
  • feeling light-headed, especially during physical activity
  • fatigue
  • racing heartbeat
  • pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • decreased appetite
  • fainting
  • swelling in the ankles or legs
  • bluish lips or skin

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for a diagnosis. They can prescribe medication or other therapies to help relieve your symptoms and prevent future complications.

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot travels from a vein in your leg to your lungs, according to 2021 research. This sudden arterial block prevents blood from flowing to your lung tissue, causing chest pain.

The pain may also spread throughout your arm, jaw, shoulder, and neck.

Pulmonary embolism can be fatal if left untreated, so seek emergency medical care if you’re experiencing these symptoms.

A fractured rib can cause intense chest pain and difficulty breathing. Broken ribs are typically caused by an injury to the chest or severe coughing.

Symptoms of a broken rib include:

  • significant chest pain, especially when breathing
  • swelling around the broken ribs
  • occasional bruising on the surrounding skin
  • hearing or feeling a crack

If you’re worried about the pain in the right side of your chest and it’s lasted more than a few days, you should see your doctor. The aches and discomfort may be caused by something mild, like acid reflux, but there’s a chance they’re from something more serious, like pulmonary hypertension.

Once you know what’s going on, you and your doctor can develop a plan to treat your chest pain and its underlying cause. If your chest pain persists after treatment, you should contact your doctor and discuss additional treatment options.

What does right-sided chest pain mean?

Right-sided chest pain could be caused by a variety of medical conditions. You might be experiencing this pain because of:

  • an anxiety attack
  • a collapsed lung
  • costochondritis
  • gallbladder problems
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • a heart attack
  • lung cancer
  • musculoskeletal strain or injury
  • pericarditis
  • pleuritis
  • pneumonia
  • a pulmonary embolism
  • a rib fracture
  • shingles

Is right-sided chest pain serious?

Right-sided chest pain may or may not be serious. Sometimes, this pain can signal a heart attack or collapsed lung. Other times, there might be a simple answer, such as gastroesophageal reflux or a muscle strain.

Severe chest pain that comes along with other symptoms should be taken more seriously.

Should I go to the ER for right-sided chest pain?

If you are at risk for a heart attack (you’re older than 55, you smoke, you have high blood pressure), you should go to the ER. You should also go to the ER if you have additional symptoms along with your chest pain, like shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.

Other cases of chest pain may not need an ER visit. When in doubt, it’s always best to seek medical attention.

What’s located on the right side of your chest?

Your lungs are located on both sides of your chest. A minor portion of your heart is on the right side.

How do you relieve chest pain on the right side?

Pain relief will depend on the cause of your pain. If you’re experiencing a simple muscle strain, ice on the affected area can help. But if something more serious is going on, your doctor will help guide you to find the best treatment.

Right side chest pain while breathing?

If you feel right-sided chest pain while breathing, you may be experiencing pleurisy. According to the National Health Service, pleurisy is a condition that occurs when the tissue between the lungs and ribcage becomes inflamed. The primary symptom is sharp chest pain when you breathe.

Right side chest pain and vomiting?

Right-sided chest pain and vomiting are often caused by acid reflux, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. However, when combined with difficulty breathing, pain that radiates into your arm, and sweating, these could be symptoms of a heart attack.

There are multiple culprits that could be behind right-sided chest pain. Pay attention to any accompanying symptoms you may be experiencing. These symptoms can help you get a better idea of what’s going on.

When in doubt, always seek treatment from a medical professional who can help diagnose and treat your pain.

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