Doctor shares three reasons for 'sharp' chest pain – and when you should call 999

Doctor Karan Raj has explained three of the ‘benign’ reasons you might feel a sharp pain in your chest at seemingly random times, and when you should see a doctor

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Doctor explains why you may experience ‘sharp stabbing’ pain in chest

Have you ever had the sensation of sharp pain in your chest? Almost all of us have, and it can often have us racing to Google to find out what’s wrong with us – usually ending in us contemplating whether we need to call 999.

But one medical professional on TikTok has explained there are plenty of perfectly normal reasons for chest pain that don’t warrant a trip to A&E.

Doctor Karan Raj shared a video on his account, @dr.karanr, that ran through three “benign” causes of that sharp, stabbing feeling in your chest, and said that in most cases, there’s nothing to worry about.

He said: “Costochondritis. Inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone – the sternum.

Dr Raj says chest pain could be caused by inflammation of cartilage


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“Pleurisy. Inflammation of the tissue between the chest and the lung – the pleura. This is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

“Precordial catch syndrome. We don’t really know the cause of this, but it involves irritation of the intercostal nerves, which are the nerves that run through the chest wall.”

Dr Raj’s video has over 330,000 views and commenters were quick to thank the doctor for settling their nerves about their chest pains.

One said: “Finally, an explanation for this!”

The doctor was praised for helping calm people’s nerves


While another added: “Thank you so much for this! I am completely enlightened.”

And a third said: “As a person that has health anxiety, you gave the best advice.”

But Dr Raj also explained in one reply to a comment that you should always visit your GP if your chest pains persist.

The comment read: “I thought I was having minor heart attacks or something. What can I do about it?”

And Dr Raj replied: “Go and see a doctor to get it checked out if it persists.”

What are the causes of chest pain?

There are several potential causes of chest pain, and according to the NHS, they could be triggered by anything from stress to a chest infection.

If your chest pain is accompanied by a feeling of being full or bloated, it could be caused by heartburn or indigestion, while pain that begins after exercise could be the result of a chest sprain or strain.

Anything triggered by stress or accompanied by sweating and dizziness could be a sign of a panic attack, and you could even get chest pains if you have pneumonia or shingles.

You could also be suffering from heart problems such as pericarditis, which can cause a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down, or angina – which has similar symptoms to a heart attack.

When should you call 999?

While most chest pain is not a sign of anything serious as Dr Raj has explained, you should always get immediate help if you think you are having a heart attack.

The NHS says you should call 999 immediately if you experience sudden chest pain that:

  • spreads to your arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • makes your chest feel tight or heavy
  • also started with shortness of breath, sweating, and feeling/being sick
  • lasts more than 15 minutes

If you have chest pain that comes and goes, the NHS advises you to contact your GP to make sure it’s nothing serious.

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