Chest Pain on Right Side: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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chest pain on right side

A sudden, sharp pain in your chest is cause for concern, but maybe not in the way you may think. While chest pain on the right side is not usually linked to a heart attack or other heart issues, it can still signal a troubling health condition.

Here, you can find your gallbladder, liver, and pancreas, all supported by the rib cage.

Damage or injury to any of these organs can lead to serious complications that may be life-threatening if left untreated. Let’s explore these and other less serious causes of pain in right side of chest.

In this article:


Causes of Chest Pain on Right Side

Although right side chest pain is rarely a symptom of heart disease, it is still important to distinguish the cause. So, what does it mean when you have a sharp pain in the right side of your chest? Keep reading to find out.

1. Muscles

Overexerting yourself by lifting heavy objects, making a sudden movement, or extending a stretch can easily put strain on your muscles and cause a tear of the tissue.

This results in sharp pain on the right side of chest, as many people use the strength of their right hand to perform such tasks.

2. Digestion

The digestive system is a powerful source that, if disrupted, can stimulate pain in the right side of the chest.

The sensation of indigestion, or heartburn, can occur when stomach acid travels to the esophagus or windpipe.

Left untreated, this can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease. The pain can also be caused by your esophagus becoming blocked with food particles.

3. Gallbladder

Another issue related to the digestive tract is an infection in the gallbladder. It is responsible for producing the bile needed for digestion and is located under the liver.

Sharp, stabbing pain in your upper abdominal region can indicate an infection or gallstones.

4. Liver

When the liver becomes inflamed by infection or the hepatitis disease, it may cause pain on the right side of chest. Other inflammation causes are toxins and excessive alcohol use.

5. Pancreas

The small pancreas organ is often the cause behind extreme pain on the right side of chest that intensifies when the person is lying down. The pain may start under the rib cage and travel to the right side before traveling to the back.

An inflamed pancreas results in digestive issues as it produces the enzymes needed for proper digestion. This is sometimes caused by gallstones.

6. Pleura

Inflammation of these membranes, known as pleurisy, is caused by infection, injury, or a blood clot. It presents severe pain in the right side of the chest while breathing or coughing. This may lead to pneumonia as the right lung is inflamed.

7. Lung

Stabbing pains on the right side of the chest, either upon breathing or coughing, may indicate any of the common lung diseases, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, infection, and emphysema.

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs that presents severe, stabbing chest pain with coughing.

Another serious chest pain lung condition is pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung. Asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, or a severe chest injury may cause the lung to collapse. Similarly, bibasilar atelectasis can lead to a partial or complete collapse of a lung, or both lungs.

8. Viral Infection

If your pain is present during a cough or when you inhale, it may be linked to a viral infection. These infections are usually seen with the common cold or flu.

Pain in the right side of the chest can often be caused by other factors such as stress, a blood clot, a tumor, rib displacement, fibromyalgia, and costochondritis.

In some cases of shingles, nerves on the right side of the chest may be affected and can cause pain.

Complications Associated with Pain in Right Side of Chest

Depending on the cause, there are various complications associated with right side chest pain, such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Painful breathing
  • Burning sensation
  • Pain with movement

Symptoms of Chest Pain on Right Side

In direct correlation with complications, you may experience symptoms alongside the pain that range from mild to severe. The following symptoms are linked to the numerous causes of pain on the right side of the chest:

Treatment and Prevention of Chest Pain on Right Side

As pain in the right side of the chest is a symptom of an infection, disease, or disorder, treatment focuses on the underlying cause.

To prevent these causes, doctors recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet based on whole or natural healthy foods.

Avoiding triggers such as smoking and alcohol abuse will go a long way in preventing such causes.

When to Consult a Doctor

Chest pain on the right side of the chest, whether mild or severe, should be addressed by a medical professional. Accompanying symptoms that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Pressure or tightness below the breast bone
  • Radiating pain to your back, jawline, or left arm
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever and chills
  • Yellow or green phlegm

Pain ranging from mild to severe in the right side of your chest is usually not linked to a heart attack or heart disease, but does call for concern. There are underlying health conditions that cause this type of pain and may require medical treatment.

Even mild conditions such as muscle strain or digestive issues can lead to more serious issues if not addressed. Take note of any accompanying symptoms with pain on the right side of the chest, and immediately consult a medical professional if necessary.