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Is Your Chest Pain a Result of Stress?

By Paul Rothbart

Pain is something few people want to experience. It is a necessary sensation as it's the way the body alerts us that something is wrong, but it can range from unpleasant right into agony. Associated with pain is the fear of what is causing it. Headaches and muscle aches are common and generally not serious so they don't cause much worry. Chest pain is another story altogether. The chest is the location of the heart and any pain there can put the thoughts of a heart attack into our heads. Fortunately, chest pain does not always signal heart trouble. It is often a sign of stress. Here are some facts about stress-induced chest pain. 

Heart Attack Symptoms

The first thing that generally comes to mind when experiencing chest pain is heart attack. While chest pain is often not caused by a heart attack, caution must be taken. If there is any question at all about the cause of chest pain, error on the side of caution and seek medical help. Other heart attack symptoms are shortness of breath, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and a pounding heart. The pain is often experienced in the arms as well. Any of the symptoms should receive immediate medical attention. 

Stress-Related Chest Pain

There are other causes of chest pain. Perhaps the most common is stress. Nobody's life is stress-free, and many people are constantly dealing with excessive stress. Chest pain is a physiological reaction to stress much like butterflies in the stomach. The body's fight or flight response is activated and the pulse rate becomes elevated. The increased blood flow causes tightness in the vessels that create the pain. People sometimes mistake this pain as a cardiac event. Playing it safe is the smart way to go, but once a doctor has confirmed it is not a heart attack, you can manage the pain yourself by managing the stress. 

Managing Chest Pain From Stress

The key to managing stress is relaxation. Deep, full breaths are very helpful. Lie or sit comfortably and inhale slowly, filling the lungs completely. Hold for a second and exhale to a count of five. Do this several times. For some, physical activity relieves the stress. Going for a nice walk and enjoying being outdoors can be very helpful to stress relief. Expressing gratitude is another method some people find effective. Spend 60 seconds each day thinking about the things you are grateful for. 

Stress is ever present and often manifests itself physically, often in the form of chest pain. If there is any doubt about heart attack, don't take the risk. Seek medical attention. Once you know your heart is sound, take the steps needed to manage the stress and relieve the pain.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Simi Valley, Calif.

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