Chest pain may originate form different sources and can be associated with a variety of medical conditions. In majority of cases the pain occurs due to structural or functional abnormalities of organs located in the chest or the rib cage. The pain may also originate from other organs (for example some abdominal organs) but it is interpreted as chest pain. Chest pain affect both children and adults. It can be classified as acute or chronic. In children it is a cause of concern for the affected child as well as his/her parents.
Common Illnesses That Cause Chest Pain in Children
Fortunately, in many children chest pain is caused by benign and self-limited conditions.
For example, costochondritis develops as a consequence of inflammation of the cartilage between the breastbone and the ribs. The condition is frequent among children and adolescents, particularly girls. Costochondritis typically features with tenderness to pressure over the costochondral joint. The pain is usually alleviated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Any injury to muscles and bones of the chest wall may be responsible for chest pain. They occur due to many reasons. For instance, a direct blow during a sporting event is a common cause of such injuries among children.
Chest pain in children may also be associated with stress and anxiety. Such pain is generally non-specific and it obviously intensifies with stress and anxiety. Children do feel stressed at school, particularly before examinations.
Acid reflux is also a potential source of chest pain. The pain in such cases is in a form of burning sensation and located below or behind the breastbone.
Cardiac Chest Pain Causes in Children
Cardiac chest pain is not frequent among children. However, it may occur and must be properly recognized. Such pain may be associated with pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining), coronary artery abnormalities (congenital or acquired abnormalities that interfere with oxygen supply) and mitral valve prolapse. Mitral valve is a structure that separates the left ventricle from the left atrium and its prolapse is not such a severe abnormality. There is another condition associated with cardiac chest pain - an arterial aneurysm. It is rather rare for children to suffer from an aortic aneurysm and the condition usually affects children who are already suffering from other uncommon illnesses such as Marfan syndrome.
Other Causes of Chest Pain in Children
Apart from the previously mentioned causes, chest pain in children may develop as a consequence of accumulation of air or fluid in the chest cavity or the pleura, certain lung infections and asthma. And finally, the pain may be connected to sickle cell anemia and chest tumors (e.g. lymphomas).