Precordial Catch Syndrome – A Chest Pain That Isn’t a Cause for Worry
Picture this scenario. You are sitting on a couch, watching television while eating your favourite food. Suddenly you experience a sharp pain on the left side of your chest. It takes you by surprise and you try to alleviate it by taking deep breaths. But no effort on your part seems to have any impact on the ache and it remains rooted in that area of your chest. It is only after a few agonizing minutes that you are able to find relief from the pain. Terrifying, isn’t it? You definitely don’t want it to become a reality ever. But what if we told you that this kind of pain is extremely common and is experienced by perfectly healthy individuals. It is called the precordial catch syndrome.
Precordial catch syndrome has been the subject of medical debates and studies since a long time. It is a common cause of pain in the chest which is often experienced by both children and adults. Many people who are unaware about the existence of such a syndrome mistake it for a cardiac arrest or a heart attack. Quite surprisingly, this syndrome occurs without a reason and thus in the medical circle, is deemed as a mysterious condition. Medical professionals have not yet been able to pinpoint an exact cause behind the occurrence of this strange syndrome that has the effect of frightening most people.
Precordial catch has been bewildering scientists since 1955, when it was first observed in ten people by medical professionals Miller and Texidor. They described this pain as occurring without any warning in healthy people. This syndrome has been included in the broad category of chest pain but no one has been able to determine exactly why it occurs.
What Is Precordial Catch?
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Precordial catch syndrome, or ‘Texidor’s Twinge’ is a condition that makes you experience a stabbing pain in the ribs that comes and goes quickly. This condition can affect people of all ages including active and healthy children and adolescents. During an episode of precordial catch, the person is unable to breathe properly and often with every inhale their pain seems to worsen. The duration of this pain is a few minutes and it does not cause negative health implications.
As mentioned before, many people often mistake this pain for a heart attack. However, there is no cause for you to confuse it with heart attack pain as there are significant differences between the two types of pain. Individuals suffering from a heart attack will experience a pain that shows no signs of abating. But in precordial catch syndrome, the person will have to deal with the pain for a maximum time period of only three minutes. They will find the pain automatically receding after a few minutes.
A point to be noted here is that during an episode of precordial catch, a deep inspiration will exacerbate the pain and forcing yourself to breathe deeply will cause a slight crackling sensation inside the chest. The pain will then go away. This is not usually the case with heart attack. So next time you or your child experiences this pain, stay calm and try not to stress about it afterward.
What Is the Cause of Precordial Catch Syndrome?
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The exact cause of this syndrome is not known. The medical community believes that it happens due to a nerve being pinched or an irritation that occurs on the inner lining of the chest wall. Its symptoms usually start in the chest wall, ribs, or connective tissue.
Among people, it is most commonly observed in children and adolescents. How common is precordial catch syndrome in adults? Studies have reported that more females than males are prone to this syndrome. They usually belong between the ages of 7-10 years. Other causes that are attributed to this syndrome are growth spurt, injury, and a poor posture. This syndrome is more common in children than in adults.
What Are the Symptoms of Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS)?
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Precordial catch syndrome occurs suddenly and there is no way by which you can predicts its frequency. Usually, it occurs when you are sitting in a slouched position or are bending over to pick something. The pain will be felt below the left part of the chest, especially when you breathe it. The duration of this pain varies from 30 seconds to three minutes.the pain does not spread to different parts of the chest and remains localised within that specific region where it has begun.
You can experience a dull ache or a stabbing spasm. Sometimes the pain can be so severe that it may cause you to momentarily lose your vision. The most characteristic symptom of precordial catch is that the pain goes away without causing any side effects. Also, there is no disturbance in the pulse rate of the individuals during and after the episode of PCS.
What Should You Do If Your Child Experiences PCS?
If your child is complaining of recurring chest pains then it is best to consult a doctor. Usually, your child may get anxious and scared by it so it is essential that you stay with them throughout the duration of this attack. Increased stress and anxiety may impact the frequency of precordial catch in a negative way. So ensure that you explain to your child that the pain is nothing to be worried over.
You should immediately seek medical help for your child if he or she is showing symptoms like nausea, headache, vomiting, dizziness, and shortness of breath along with the pain. It may point towards some underlying health issue and you should not not take it lightly, even if your child is healthy.
Is precordial catch syndrome genetic?
There are no known causes of this syndrome, hence, it is difficult to determine if this condition is genetic or not. It has been commonly linked with growth spurt in children. Adolescence is a time of intense mental and physical development. Teenagers experience huge changes in their sleep patterns, appetite, mental, and physical health. Every area of the body is affected by the growth spurt. As this syndrome is commonly experienced by adolescents, doctors have linked this pain with growth spurts.
Is There a Treatment for Precordial Catch Syndrome?
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As mentioned before, precordial catch syndrome is a very mysterious condition. It has baffled doctors since decades. As a result, there is no treatment available for it. Doctors are also of the opinion that as the pain associated with this syndrome disappears on its own within a few minutes without affecting the health in any way, it requires no treatment. Most commonly, people who complain of PCS attacks are recommended over-the-counter pain medications as a treatment. Since these medications are anti-inflammatory, they help people to find relief from this pain.
Alternately, you can also take deep breathes slowly during any episode of PCS and avoid sitting in a slouched position for long periods of time. Either way, there is no cause to worry as this syndrome is completely harmless. Just remember not to get too stressed over it. If your child or adolescent is otherwise perfectly healthy, then he or she will outgrow this syndrome as they approach the end of their teenage years.