What Causes Sudden Sharp Pain in Your Chest? When Is It Serious?

A 2016 study indicated that only about 6% of people wheeled into the emergency room due to sudden chest pains are facing a life-threatening condition. Further, another study in 2019 shows that chest pain is the most common symptom among both genders. 

When Is The Chest Pain Serious?

Most heart attacks come with a crushing pain or discomfort in the center of the chest, lasting longer than a few minutes. In such cases, getting to the nearest emergency center is essential. 

However, there are other common causes of chest pain. 

What Are the Common Causes of Chest Pain?


One common cause of chest pain, heartburn, occurs when stomach acid rises to your esophagus. Also called indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux, heartburn is very common and affects almost 15 million people in the United States alone. The symptoms may include:

  • Stomach discomfort 
  • A bubble or blockage sensation In the chest,
  • Burping etc.

Precordial Catch Syndrome

Commonly referred to as PCS, this is a non-urgent medical condition that happens mostly in children and young adults. It’s believed to occur due to a pinched nerve in the chest or a muscle spasm. 

The symptoms of this syndrome include a sharp and stabbing pain that lasts between 30 seconds to three minutes. The pain worsens when you breathe in, and it goes away quickly and leaves no further symptoms. It may occur during periods of stress and anxiety when resting or changing posture.

Muscle Strain or Bone Pain

When someone suffers from bone or muscle problems, they may feel sudden, sharp pains in the chest. You can injure your ribs and the muscles when carrying something heavy or even during workouts. The subsequent chest pain can occur when the muscle or bone pinches a nerve. Such injuries to the chest may be inflicted by : 

  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Inflammation in the rib cage
  • Broken or bruised ribs, etc.

Lung Problems 

Finally, breathing and lung issues can cause sudden chest pain. Some of these problems may be serious, so it is always important to see your doctor when any of these symptoms occur: 

  • Pains in the chest that worsen when you cough;
  • Pain in the chest that worsens when you draw in a deep breath.

It is advisable to visit your doctor whenever you feel a sudden pain in your chest, especially when you already have pre-existing medical conditions that may worsen.