Pinched Nerve and Chest Pain - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Chest Pain, Pinched Nerve, chiropractic atlas adjustment

Pinched nerve and chest pain? Whenever one thinks of chest pain, we automatically associate it with cardiovascular problems and panic attacks. However, unknown to many, chest pains can also stem from nerve pinching. This happens when one or two of the spinal bones shift and press on nerve tissues. That’s why it’s not surprising that many patients who are cleared by their medical physician seek an upper cervical specialist to address chest pain associated with pinched nerves. Not sure how these two problems relate to each other? Let’s discuss further. 

What is a Pinched Nerve? 

A pinched nerve, also known as nerve compression or nerve impingement, occurs when excessive pressure or compression is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues such as bones, muscles, tendons, or ligaments. This pressure can disrupt the nerve's normal function and lead to symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area of the body. Pinched nerves can occur in various parts of the body and are often caused by conditions like herniated discs, repetitive motion, or structural abnormalities.

How Pinched Nerve Cause Chest Pain?

A pinched nerve in the chest can cause chest pain through a few different mechanisms:

Referred Pain

Sometimes, when a nerve in the chest is pinched or irritated, it can send pain signals to other areas, including the chest wall. This phenomenon is known as referred pain. For example, a pinched nerve in the neck or upper back may refer pain to the chest area.

Muscle Spasms

When a nerve is compressed, it can lead to muscle spasms in the surrounding area. If this happens in the chest region, it can cause pain that feels like it's coming from the chest muscles.

Interference with Autonomic Nerves

Nerves in the chest also control autonomic functions like heart rate and blood pressure. If a pinched nerve affects these autonomic nerves, it can lead to sensations of chest discomfort or palpitations.

How do Pinched Nerve and Chest Pain Relate to One Another?

The Spinal Anatomy

To understand how chest pain and pinched nerve relate to one another, you need to familiarize yourself with the spinal anatomy. Essentially, your spine features several bones that hold the head in place. These bones and muscles also work together to support your head’s movement and encase the brainstem and the spinal cord. 

Apart from the vertebral bones, you also have intervertebral discs, which shield each bone from damage and friction. Sadly, as you age or suffer from the deteriorating effects of smoking and drinking alcohol, your intervertebral discs wear out. This causes pain and sometimes triggers problems like disc bulging. It can also worsen other health conditions like bone spurs. 

When you develop such spinal column problems, you become susceptible to nerve pinching or radiculopathy. If the pinching occurs along the thoracic area, you might experience chest pains accompanied by muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and tingling sensation on the neck, chest area, and back. We refer to this nerve pinching condition as thoracic radiculopathy. 

Symptoms of Pinched Nerve and Chest Pain

It's important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and the severity of chest pain related to a pinched nerve can range from mild discomfort to more intense and debilitating pain. If you experience chest pain, especially if it is severe or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seek medical evaluation to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Sharp or Shooting Pain: This type of pain is often described as sudden and intense, resembling a stabbing sensation. It may come and go or be constant, depending on the severity of the nerve compression. The pain can be localized in a specific area of the chest or may radiate to other parts of the body.

Tingling and Numbness: Tingling and numbness in the chest or surrounding areas can vary in intensity. It may feel like pins and needles or a loss of sensation. These sensations are typically a result of the nerve's impaired ability to transmit signals properly.

Radiating Pain: Chest pain caused by a pinched nerve can extend beyond the chest itself. The pain might travel into the neck, upper back, shoulders, or down the arms. This radiating pain pathway is often indicative of nerve involvement.

Muscle Weakness: As a pinched nerve affects the communication between the nerve and muscles, muscle weakness can occur in the chest, shoulders, or arms. This weakness might make it challenging to perform certain tasks or lift objects.

Increased Pain with Movement: Chest pain from a pinched nerve can worsen with specific movements or positions. For instance, deep breathing, stretching, or twisting the upper body can increase the pressure on the affected nerve, leading to more intense pain.

Pain Triggered by Specific Actions: Activities like coughing, sneezing, or even laughing can trigger or intensify the chest pain. These actions cause changes in pressure within the chest and can further irritate the compressed nerve.

Types of Radiculopathy

Often, patients who approach a doctor for a chiropractic atlas adjustment to relieve a pinched nerve problem have cervical, thoracic, or lumbar radiculopathy. Here’s a closer look at each type of radiculopathy:

  • Cervical radiculopathy – The pinching problem occurs along the neck region. It can trigger tingling, burning, or numbing feeling on the neck, shoulder, and upper extremities.
  • Thoracic radiculopathy – This happens when you have a compressed or irritated nerve on the upper spine. The pain caused by this condition tends to affect the chest and the entire torso area.  
  • Lumbar radiculopathy – If the nerve pinching affects the lower back, you get diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy. It can hurt your lower back, hips, and lower extremities. 

Can Anyone Suffer from Radiculopathy?

One of the common questions we get among patients seeking a chiropractic atlas adjustment is: can anyone develop a pinched nerve? Many believe that spinal nerve compression only affects older adults, especially those with pre-existing health problems like herniated discs. However, recent studies explain that even younger folks can struggle with radiculopathy, especially the cervical type. 

This happens because apart from degenerative diseases, injuries or physical trauma can also cause cervical radiculopathy. Other studies note that radiculopathy can also occur due to other conditions like spinal tumors, spinal infections, and Sarcoidosis.

Radiculopathy may also develop and cause you excruciating pain if you have the following risk factors: 

  • Often carry heavy items
  • Drive equipment with strong vibrations
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Previously suffered from radiculopathy
Pinched nerve and chest pain

Treatment: What To Do When You Experience Chest Pains

Did you know that about 20 to 40 percent of the global population experience chest pain at some point?  Some folks experience mild discomfort in their chest that lasts for a couple of seconds. Others report having sharp and intense blows that come and go in waves. It can also arise from all sorts of health conditions – some benign, while others can be life-threatening. 

If you suddenly feel chest pain, don’t attempt to self-medicate or self-diagnose. Take note that chest pain is among the top signs of a heart or lung problem, such as a heart attack, coronary artery disease, and pneumonia. Call for an ambulance as soon as possible if you experience chest pain with any of the symptoms below:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, and stomach
  • Vertigo attack or sudden dizziness
  • Cold sweats and nausea
  • Rapid heart beating
  • Unexplainable fever 
  • Acid reflux
  • Trouble swallowing

It’s a must to get an accurate diagnosis of what caused your chest pain, especially if it frequently recurs. The earlier you unravel the root cause of your pain, the better prognosis you can have. Aside from the standard physical examination, your doctor might need to run additional tests like X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood tests. This way, you can have a more precise understanding of what’s going on inside your body.

Chiropractic Atlas Adjustment: Your Hope to Healing Faster

If you have ruled out other potential causes of your chest pain, you might find it beneficial to try getting a chiropractic atlas adjustment. It’s a great addition to your healthcare routine, and it can help address radiculopathy – a potential source of pinched nerve and chest pain.

Thousands of patients seek the assistance of an upper cervical care doctor because of the growing number of case studies that attest to the effectiveness of this approach. It’s an all-natural approach anchored on the idea that your body can heal independently.

The goal of upper cervical care chiropractic is to relieve the pressure on the cervical spine. It involves making gentle adjustments to the upper cervical bones that might have shifted due to a previous injury which may result in pinched nerve and chest pain. 

Slowly but surely, the procedure helps you restore the alignment of other vertebral bones and enhance the recovery rate of the affected tissues. It may also come in handy in alleviating other radiculopathy symptoms such as muscle spasms and numbness.  

The relationship between pinched nerves and upper cervical chiropractic has been the subject of research including:

  • A study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website presented a case of a 57-year-old woman with cervical radiculopathy who experienced complete relief of symptoms and full resolution of neck pain and numbness in the left arm following chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation and intermittent motorized cervical traction.
  • Another article on the NCBI website discussed the potential of upper cervical chiropractic care, in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy. This is important for people suffering with a pinched nerve and chest pain.
  • Additionally, an article on the website of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) discussed the use of upper cervical chiropractic care to reduce cervical spine vertebral subluxations, citing case studies that showed the resolution of symptoms related to pinched nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and trigeminal neuralgia, through this approach.
  • These sources provide insights into the potential benefits of upper cervical chiropractic in the management of pinched nerve and chest pain, particularly in the cervical region.

Be informed on how you can benefit from upper cervical care from a local neck chiropractor today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Pinched Nerve and Chest Pain

Q1. What Are Pinched Nerve in Chest Left Side Symptoms?

Symptoms of a pinched nerve and chest pain in the left side of the chest may include sharp or shooting chest pain, tingling, and numbness that may radiate to the left arm or upper back. These symptoms can be exacerbated by movement or specific actions like coughing or deep breathing.

Q2. How to Relieve Nerve Pain in the Chest?

To alleviate nerve pain in the chest, rest and avoid activities that worsen the discomfort. Pain relievers, prescribed medications, physical therapy, heat or cold packs, ergonomic adjustments, and avoiding pain-triggering actions can be effective strategies.

Q3. Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Arm Numbness?

Yes, a pinched nerve can cause arm numbness. When a nerve is compressed or irritated, it can disrupt normal sensation and lead to numbness or tingling in the affected arm.

Q4. Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Shortness of Breathe?

Yes, a pinched nerve, particularly in the upper back or neck area, can cause shortness of breath by affecting nerve signals and muscles involved in breathing, though it's less common than other symptoms.

Q5. Can a Pinched Nerve Mimic a Heart Attack?

Yes, a pinched nerve in the chest can mimic some symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and radiating discomfort, but it typically lacks other critical signs like cardiac irregularities. If in doubt, seek immediate medical attention to rule out a heart attack.

Q6. Difference Between Pinched Nerve and Heart Attack

A pinched nerve typically causes localized pain, numbness, or tingling, while a heart attack presents with chest pain or pressure, often accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, sweating, and arm pain. Heart attack symptoms are a medical emergency and require immediate attention.

Find an upper cervical specialist near you by clicking the button below to investigate your pinched nerve and chest pain symptoms.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.