Does Chest Pain in Children Indicate a Heart Problem?

Child at Doctor AppointmentWhen your child complains of chest pain, it’s understandable that you may experience concern about what is causing it. Fortunately, chest pain in children is fairly common while heart disease is very rare.

If your child is experiencing acute chest pain that impacts their ability to eat, move around or sleep, you should pay a visit to your doctor. While heart disease is unlikely, other conditions may be present that are impairing the heart’s function.

Has Your Child Been Sick or Injured Recently?

If your child has recently recovered from being sick, they may experience a residual inflammation of the joints in their ribs and breastbone called costochondritis. It’s caused by prolonged coughing and is typically treated with anti-inflammatory medication such as common ibuprofen.

If the chest pain in your child has its source in an injury, then there is little doubt about the source of the pain. However, overworking the chest muscles is also a common source for chest pain in children. These muscles can become overworked through exercise, heavy lifting or involuntary movements such as coughing.

Most chest pain in children is related to the bones and muscles in their chest rather than their heart.

How Do I Know When It’s Serious?

If your child has difficulty breathing, or if the pain they are experiencing is so sudden and severe, you should contact your pediatrician right away. While these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate heart disease, they may be cause for concern.

When a child experiences chest pain that only occurs during or right after vigorous, physical activity, you should contact your doctor or pediatric cardiologist. Chest pain that occurs both at rest and when active is usually not related to the heart.