Chest Injuries and Disorders

The chest is the part of the body between your neck and your abdomen. It includes the ribs and breastbone. Inside your chest are several organs, including the heart, lungs, and esophagus. The pleura, a large thin sheet of tissue, lines the inside of the chest cavity.

Chest injuries and disorders includeIllustration of the thorax

  • Heart diseases
  • Lung diseases and collapsed lung
  • Pleural disorders
  • Esophagus disorders
  • Broken ribs
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysms
  • Disorders of the mediastinum, the space between the lungs, breastbone, and spine

Chest Pain

Having a pain in your chest can be scary. It does not always mean that you are having a heart attack. There can be many other causes, including

  • Other heart problems, such as anginaA photograph of a man clutching his chest
  • Panic attacks
  • Digestive problems, such as heartburn or esophagus disorders
  • Sore muscles
  • Lung diseases, such as pneumonia, pleurisy, or pulmonary embolism
  • Costochondritis – an inflammation of joints in your chest

Some of these problems can be serious. Get immediate medical care if you have chest pain that does not go away, crushing pain or pressure in the chest, or chest pain along with nausea, sweating, dizziness or shortness of breath. Treatment depends on the cause of the pain.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.

High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. You are likely to have high cholesterol if members of your family have it, if you are overweight or if you eat a lot of fatty foods.

You can lower your cholesterol by exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables. You also may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol.

Chronic Pain

Pain is a feeling set off in the nervous system. Acute pain lets you know that you may be injured or have a problem you need to take care of. Chronic pain is different. The pain signals go on for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause may have been an injury or infection

There may be an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis or cancer. But in some cases there is no clear cause.

Problems that cause chronic pain include

  • Headache
  • Low back strain
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Pain from nerve damage

Chronic pain usually cannot be cured. But treatments can help. They include medicines, acupuncture, electrical stimulation and surgery. Other treatments include psychotherapy, relaxation and meditation therapy, biofeedback, and behavior modification.