Some of the most common causes of mild chest pain include heartburn, anxiety and chest wall pain. Others include a direct trauma to the chest area, a pulled muscle, peptic ulcers and asthma. Some potentially more dangerous causes of chest pain include a heart attack or angina. Chest pain is not a diagnosis in itself — it is a symptom a condition or disease, which is why it is usually recommended that a patient sees a doctor for even mild pain.
Heartburn is one of the most common causes of mild chest pain. It occurs when acid from the stomach is pushed up toward the person’s throat. This can cause a burning feeling and pain in the stomach or chest. Usually, heartburn will disappear without treatment, but sometimes medication may be required.
Benign chest wall pain is another common cause of mild chest pain and is usually harmless. This condition is often seen in young patients and is not well understood. It can, however, cause a large amount of stress to the patient if it is not diagnosed correctly. Symptoms of this condition include a catching pain, which often occurs while breathing.
If the chest area suffers a trauma, such as a strong blow, this can cause pain as well. Sometimes, this pain is caused by a broken rib or a bruised muscle. It’s also possible to pull a muscle in the chest, which can result in a dull or sharp pain, depending on the severity. Usually, pain from a trauma is localized to a specific area. The patient may not always know that the trauma has occurred.
A heart attack is rarely a cause of mild chest pain, as an attack usually results in severe pain. Typically, the pain feels as if the heart or surrounding tissue is being squeezed and is not localized to one area. Angina pain is often similar, but is caused by muscles in the chest not being supplied enough oxygen, rather than due to a blocked artery.
Diagnosing the true cause of mild chest pain isn’t always straightforward. Often, tests such as an ECG are used, along with a thorough examination of the patient and his or her medical history. Many causes of chest pain are harmless, but there are some that can be life threatening, so a doctor will usually take a cautious view with regard to diagnosis.