Seek emergency medical attention if you experience chest pain or pressure that lasts for more than a few moments. If you have less alarming pain or tenderness in or around your breastbone that isn't improving, make an appointment with your doctor.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list of all the medications and supplements you take, in addition to a list of questions for the doctor, such as:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- What self-care steps are likely to help improve my symptoms?
- Do I need to follow any activity restrictions?
- What new signs or symptoms should I watch for at home?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms will resolve?
- Should I see a specialist?
You may also want to bring a family member or friend along to the appointment. They can help remember information that you missed or forgot.
What to expect from the doctor
A doctor who sees you for chest pain may ask:
May. 05, 2012
- When did you first begin experiencing these symptoms?
- Have your symptoms gotten worse over time?
- Where is your pain located?
- Does anything else seem to make your pain worse?
- Does anything seem to make your pain better?
- Are you having any difficulty breathing?
- Does exercise or physical exertion make your symptoms worse?
- Have you had any recent respiratory infections?
- Have you had any recent injuries to your chest?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- Have you recently experienced a significant amount of stress or change?
- Are you aware of any history of heart problems in your family?
- Wise CM. Major causes of musculoskeletal chest pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 5, 2012.
- Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed March 5, 2012.
- Proulx AM, et al. Costochondritis: Diagnosis and treatment. American Family Physician. 2009;80:617.
- Stochkendahl MJ, et al. Chest pain in focal musculoskeletal disorders. Medical Clinics of North America. 2010;94:259.
- Wise CM. Clinical evaluation of musculoskeletal chest pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 6, 2012.
- Phillips K, et al. Treatment of musculoskeletal chest pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 6, 2012.