Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Your child complains of pain in the chest (front or back).
Most acute chest pain is associated with a hacking cough.
Coughing can cause sore muscles in the chest wall, upper
abdomen, or diaphragm. Occasionally a child has chest pain
after strenuous exercise, lifting, or work that involves the
upper body. This type of muscle soreness often increases
with movement of the shoulders. Heart disease is hardly
ever the cause of chest pain in children.
The most common cause of recurrent chest pains in
adolescents and adults is the precordial catch syndrome.
This pain occurs just below the left nipple and comes on
suddenly. The pain feels sharp or knifelike, causing the
person to not want to move. Usually within 1 minute, the
pain is gone. The cause is not known for sure, but it may
result from a pinched nerve. Although these pains may recur
for years, the precordial catch syndrome is completely
harmless. Daily stretching exercises sometimes reduce these
sudden sharp pains.
Treat sore, strained chest muscles with acetaminophen or
ibuprofen four times a day. Continue this until 24 hours
have passed without pain. You can also relieve muscle
spasms by putting a heating pad or warm washcloth on the
area for 20 minutes. Your child will probably stop having
these muscle pains within 7 days.
If the pain is caused by coughing, give your child a
cough-suppressant medicine containing dextromethorphan (DM).
(See Cough .)
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF:
- The pain is severe AND lasts more than 1 hour.
- Your child is having difficulty breathing or is breathing
- Your child is acting very sick.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
- The chest pain is caused by coughing or pulled muscles
AND it persists more than 7 days.
- Chest pains are a recurrent problem for your child.
- You have other concerns or questions.