So much is being said about left side chest pain and how it relates to heart problems. But then, how about right side chest pain? You may want to ask, “What does it mean if I feel chest pain above the right breast? What can cause this symptom? Is there any reason to feel worried? The fact that people don’t often talk about right side chest pain does not mean that it isn’t potentially dangerous. But there is no single cause for all right side chest pains. It can indicate various problems. This kind of pain can be a result of direct injury. It could occur due to inflammation of one or more structures in your right chest area. It could even be a referred pain. Referred pain means that the pain originated from somewhere else.
If you are experiencing pain above your right breast, the first thing you should be thinking about is the structures in the area. There are bones (your ribs), chest muscles, nerves, blood vessels, a part of your lungs, etc. In the case of referred pain, it is often due to damage to or pressure on one of the nerves that run through your chest. The origin may be from elsewhere. But since the nerve passes through your chest, the pain will be referred to there. To be honest, pain above your right breast can signal serious conditions. But in most cases, it is just a mild issue that can even resolve on its own without treatment. Usually, they are musculoskeletal problems. But then, don’t overlook any pain above your right breast. Talk to an expert about your symptoms.
Causes of Chest Pain Above Right Breast
1. Fracture of the clavicle
Your clavicle is your collarbone. If this bone fractures, it can cause you to feel pain above your breast. The professional body of American orthopedic surgeons (AAOS) says that clavicular fracture is more common among athletes and children and athletes.
For children, clavicular fracture most commonly occurs during the delivery process. But aside from this, a child may fracture their clavicle if they fall on their outstretched hand. Adults and teens can also fracture their clavicle if they fall this way.
According to AAOS, the clavicle only fully hardens around when a person clocks for 20 years. That explains why children and teens (especially young athletes) might easily fracture this bone when they fall or from direct impacts.
But remember that you have two clavicles. You have one on the right side and another on the left. So you will only experience right side pain above your breast if it is your right clavicle that fractures. If it is a left clavicular fracture, the pain will be felt on the left side.
Common symptoms that come with clavicular fractures include a saggy shoulder (sags down and forward), inability to raise the arm on the fractured side, and so on.
2. Strained pectoralis muscle
Pectoral muscle strains are another common cause of pain above a person’s right breast. This refers to strain on a muscle called “pectoralis major”. This powerful muscle is a fan-shaped muscle located in the front part of your chest. It runs from your breastbone and collarbone to your arm bone.
Pectoralis major muscle strain can occur in 2 ways:
- Direct trauma
- Chronic overuse
Direct trauma can occur during contact sports like football, rugby, and hockey, just to mention a few. Chronic overuse can cause the tendons or muscle fibers to tear.
Whatever be the cause, pectoralis major strain will often come with bruising and swelling at the site of injury. There will also be muscle weakness, as well as problems with arm movement on the side where the strain occurs.
This condition refers to the inflammation of your costal cartilages. These are the cartilages that connect each of your ribs to the sternum or breastbone. If any of these coastal cartilages is inflamed, it may cause sharp pain at that point of connection.
So if there is inflammation of one of the upper coastal cartilages on the right side, the pain might be felt above your right breast. It is easier to place if it occurs on the right side. But if it’s on the left, it can be quite hard to place. This is because costochondritis pain has very similar characteristics to heart attack pain (which often occurs on the left side).
Costochondritis often resolves on its own. But you may need medications to ease your pain until it self-resolves.
4. Rib fracture
We talked about the clavicular fracture earlier. But aside from clavicular fracture, damage to your right-side ribs (especially the upper ribs) can cause pain above your right breast. This can occur due to an accident or strenuous exercise. You will need painkillers to ease your pain. And your attending physician will immobilize the area so that proper healing can take place.
5. Pinched Nerve
Another common cause of pain above the right breast is pinched (or compressed nerves). This can occur due to trauma or awkward movements, especially during exercise. Anti-inflammatory meds can help treat nerve compressions. But in some cases, it would require surgery.
This occurs due to the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (after initial treatment). This virus lodges itself within nerve roots. So if the virus is lodging in any of the nerve roots that supply your right chest area, you may feel pain there if there is a reactivation.
As you know, doctors will always carry out physical examinations and necessary tests to diagnose a condition. The tests that your doctor will order depend on the symptoms you feel and some other factors.
But when it comes to chest pain, your doctor’s initial focus would be to stabilize and secure your “ABC’s”. A stands for airway; B stands for breathing; C stands for circulation. So long as these 3 are stable and secure, your doctor is sure that your condition is not life-threatening. And other things can be considered.
Chest pain above the right breast may not be linked to heart problems and is often not life-threatening. But then, don’t overlook it. See your physician, get a proper diagnosis, and take appropriate measures to manage and treat the condition. In case of severe pain, don’t wait at all. Call 911 immediately.