Pain in the left side of the chest is always a cause of great concern as it may be associated with severe medical conditions such as heart attacks. However, this may not always be true. The left side chest pain you experience may be the result of a less life threatening condition. On the flipside, the chest pain may also be the symptom of a more severe condition and should not be overlooked.

What Causes Left Side Chest Pain?


Heart Attack

Myocardial infarction (heart attack) is caused by arteries being blocked. The heart is a muscle that works 24 hours a day and requires an adequate amount of oxygen filled blood to work properly. When plaque builds up, it begins to block this blood from getting to the heart.

When the heart stops getting the oxygen filled blood, it stops working properly and may stop working altogether. When the blockage remains for more than 15 minutes you will notice a pain in the left side of the chest begin to develop and move into the left shoulder and neck as the heart tissues begin to die.


Cardiac Ischemia

Cardiac Ischemia is when the heart is getting inadequate amounts of blood over time and can eventually lead to heart attack, irregular heart rhythm, or heart failure. The muscles of the heart will become damaged and ineffective. The most common symptom is left chest pain.


Angina Pectoris

This is the most common left side chest pain in middle-aged adults. It is most often described as a feeling of pressure buildup, along with tightness and constriction of the left side chest area. It is not uncommon for this pain to spread into the lower jaw, shoulder, back, and arm.


Intercostal Neuralgia

The intercostal nerves lie between the ribs in the chest cavity. When they become injured due to an infection or trauma, they cause severe pain. Most of the time it is a sharp, shooting, stabbing pain. The pain can worsen as one coughs, sneezes, laughs, or touches the damaged region.

Intercostal neuralgia is diagnosed when all other organic reasons for the left side chest pain are eliminated. It is difficult to diagnose and cannot be detected by x-rays.



Costochondritis occurs when the costosternal joint, the joint where the ribs connect to the sternum, becomes inflamed. This localized, sharp left chest pain is most commonly experienced by teenagers or young adults.

This left side chest pain is caused by trauma to the chest or viral infections and can worsen after activity. However, it can be treated with physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medications.


Respiratory Tract Ailments

Chronic and short-term ailments in the respiratory tract can cause left side chest pain. Some of the most common conditions are asthma, bronchitis, cancer, lung abscess, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

These may cause mild to acute left side chest pain accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing, sputum, shortness of breath, and a fever. Both the infections and noninfectious autoimmune conditions share the same symptoms and should be diagnosed by a medical doctor.


Acidity, Gas and Heartburn

Acid buildup, gas, and heartburn can cause mild to severe pain in the left side of your chest. These all develop in your intestines and move to the chest area. When the pressure pushes against the wall, you feel the pain. You may experience bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain alongside the left chest pain. You should not ignore this pain as it is very similar to that of a heart attack. It is important to receive proper diagnosis from your doctor.


Left Pectoral Strain

Athletes and those involved in contact sports or strenuous exercises may experience left side chest pain due to left pectoral strain. It is not uncommon for the pain to move to the left shoulder or armpit and increase with activity.

Having a torn or pulled pectoral muscle can be easily diagnosed by touching the location of the left side chest pain. The best treatment is rest and sometimes over-the-counter pain medication to ease the pain.



Pleuritis is diagnosed when the lining of the lung becomes inflamed. Breathing, coughing, and sneezing may cause an acute pain in left side chest. The most common causes are bacterial or viral infections, pulmonary embolisms, and pneumothorax. Depending on the diagnosis, pleuritic can be treated with anti-inflammatory or pain relieving medications.


Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach pushes into the chest through the hiatus. Some may never experience symptoms, but some may experience left side chest pain, heartburn, or reflux. The pain may even worsen when you lie down. Most of the time the pain will subside on its own; however, it may be a rare case that needs to be surgically altered.



Stress, obesity, and diabetes may be the cause of left side chest pain. Stress may not be a direct link to heart attack, but it is important that you consult your doctor if you feel you experience pain from stress.

Obesity and diabetes may also lead to other health conditions if not properly treated. Most of the time they can be avoided by changing your diet, altering your health routine, and lowering your amount of smoking and alcohol.


Other Causes

Left side chest pain can accompany many left side abdominal pains. Several organs lie just beneath the left chest cavity. Kidney infections, kidney stones, pain in the spleen, and gastritis are just a few of the ailments that may cause left side chest pain. This pain may even be heightened when eating, after eating, or when breathing.

When to Worry About Left Side Chest Pain

When you have sudden onset of left side chest pain, call your doctor immediately. You may also need to call if the pain does not go away or is untreatable with anti-inflammatories. Never make your own diagnosis, as left side chest pain may be the symptom of a more severe medical condition.

  • Call your doctor immediately if you have left side chest pain accompanied by fever, chills, or coughing, swallowing difficulty, or severe pain that does not go away.

  • Call 911 immediately if you have a sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness or crushing around your breastbone; chest pain that spreads; a sudden, sharp pain with a shortness of breath; nausea, dizziness, increased heart rate, sweating, or confusion; low blood pressure or slowed heart rate.


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  • Pradeep MenonJan.15 13:22
    My mom is 56 years old , she is having chest pain very often. We consulted doc and did all the diagnostic, they said no issues . She is good . But she still do get pain in left side of chest . Let me know if you know any thing about it , why it is causing it.
  • ElleJan.2 14:57
    Sounds like pleuracy. If you feel like you're chest is going explode. Does it feel better if someone squeezed you're rib cage together. So that when you breath in you're ribs don't move very much. If that helps then it could be what I said. I had my first attack at 13 swore I was having a heart attack. They did an x ray and saw that the lining of my lungs were inflamed. Its like a virus and All I could do was take ibuprofen. The antiinflammatory really helped and did every time since. Then again I had a double pulmonary embolism at 30. I would have died if I wasn't persitant something was wrong. I went to four hospitals. I was at 70% oxygen and I had bad chest pain especially at on my left side. I was hallucinating, high heart rate and cold clammy skin. They thought I was drunk. If the last hospitals nurse didn't act on a hunch I would have gone home and died probably that night. So if you're worried and the pain is that bad please go in. I was an active healthy woman I never thought I would end up in the ICU where the next oldest person was 56 that day. So be diligent and persistent that you want things checked. I had An x ray and they didn't see anything. So I convinced one doctor to do more testing. He did a d dimer to test for platelet levels. After that came back they did a CT scan with dye to show my lungs. They both were filled with blood clots that passed through my heart and went to my lungs which killed parts of my lung tissue. Hope that helps
  • ruDec.29 04:40
    hey my names ru i smoke alot of hashnish im 18 been smoking for a month straight i was depressed just went through relationship troubles and family issues and i dont do much exercise well not recently, i went off for 48 hours(hash) and and then had a yeager bomb and my heart is just killer tight high pressure pain on the left side but more outter pain than inner i sound like a super para pot head but i cant sleep at all and of course i google symptoms and it leads me here! this genuinely in serious tho my head is super light headed and my face is numb its currently 4:30am and im debating whether to get medical help of not
  • chandniDec.24 13:31
    i am 26 years female.. 6 mobths ago i had viral fever and after that chest pain occurred.. its been 5 months now still having chest pain.. did chest x- ray and blood report. That arr normal. Doctor saying its muscle pain. And had many medicines but still i'm not well.
  • Akewusola AdewaleDec.15 14:01
    Hi, I'm Adewale 27yrs from Nigeria. I normally felt sharp pain in my left chest, it start occurring after eating abt some years ago but now, maybe once in a week or twice. pls, any help?
  • Adrian Dec.14 05:23
    I've had mild chest pains that go down to my left shoulder. Not too bad, but I also feel nausea and light headed. Very fatigued as well. I'm only 19, and weight lift regularly. Perhaps it's the caffeine, which i have been pulling back from. Any suggestions?
  • Siira MutsekeDec.6 20:39
    This morning i woke up with severe back neck pain and mild headacge which quickly spread to the left chest and shitly, i felt a lot of silver tasting saliva in the mounth. My BP was 160/105 and pulse 74. I took a nifedipine 20g and within 30min, the BP was 135/86 but the pulse was 92!! It is close to midnight and ibstill have mikd headache and some confusion. What cn i do. Silas, 49 Uganda
  • Mahmud HossainNov.28 08:12
    Hi, this is Xeeban Mahmud, 28 male. This afternoon I was suffering pain in my left chest while inhaling. I could barely breath for couple of minutes. I cud inhale 30% than the other time. I attempted to inhale and take more oxygen but I could not. If I attempt to inhale more oxygen, it feels like that somethings gonna tear apart. In addition, um suffering from dry cough for a week & um taking anti-biotic along with other medicines. Please do reply on my problem. Um eagerly waiting.
  • Brenda Norwood Nov.21 23:53
    Hi my name is Brenda I just have a very slight discomfort on the left side kinda under the upper part of my breast only when I take a deep breath what could it be it just started this morning
  • Adrian TorresNov.18 13:42
    My name is Adrian im 26 years old. Ive had these weird pains on my chest for some time now. Before it was just a small chest pain and i would just look past it but recently ive been experiencing weird chest pains that travel to my left shoulder and its been feeling weird because it feels like it burns sometimes and it takes a while to go away. And idk ive been having alot of stress lately like issues at home with partner, issues with money i lost my job idk what to think anymore
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