Should You Worry About Your Child’s Chest Pain?

Does your child feel Texidor’s twinge?
Should You Worry About Your Child's Chest Pain?

Kids can get chest pain too — even sudden, sharp pain that takes their breath away.

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While it may be scary, brief episodes are rarely anything serious, says pediatric cardiologist Kenneth Zahka, MD.

Texidor’s twinge (also called precordial catch syndrome) is a common cause of childhood chest pain. Fortunately, the most harm it does is cause worry.

Common causes of chest pain in children

In children and teens, chest pain usually isn’t caused by the heart or lungs. It’s typically due to:

  • Muscle or joint strain. “Kids might have chest pain from doing different or more-strenuous-than-normal activities,” says Dr. Zahka. “Usually, they can trigger the pain with a certain movement or by pressing on a certain area.”
  • Inflammation. “If the ribs are tender adjacent to the breastbone, it may be costochondritis, a type of joint inflammation,” he says.

These conditions go away in a few days. The best treatment is taking pain relievers and staying away from activities that aggravate the pain.

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What is Texidor’s twinge?

But then there’s Texidor’s twinge, a completely different type of chest pain. (It’s named for one of the physicians that first identified it in 1955.) Dr. Zahka describes it as:

  • Sudden, sharp and intense.
  • Usually on the left side of the chest.
  • Lasting only seconds or minutes.
  • Occurring several times a day or only one time.
  • Affecting children and adolescents who are otherwise healthy.
  • Not triggered by physical activity.
  • Often occurring when at rest.
  • Worsened by inhaling, exhaling or moving.

The pain can be stunning. But it typically leaves as quickly as it comes — with no explanation.

What causes Texidor’s twinge isn’t known for sure. It’s most likely nothing to do with the heart. Some doctors think it’s a muscle cramp or caused by a compressed nerve.

When chest pain is serious

According to Dr. Zahka, serious chest pain feels different than Texidor’s twinge. Usually, serious pain is:

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  • Very intense.
  • Long lasting.
  • Triggered by physical activity.
  • Accompanied by fever or other symptoms.

During a heart attack, pain typically radiates out from the chest.

“Of course, heart problems are the first thing many parents think of,” says Dr. Zahka. “But chest pain in children is most often not due to a serious condition.”

What to do about Texidor’s twinge

Like other common childhood chest pain, there’s no treatment for Texidor’s twinge. It goes away quickly, on its own. If the pain recurs, try anti-inflammatory medicine, like ibuprofen.

“Texidor’s twinge isn’t dangerous or life-threatening and usually resolves by adulthood,” says Dr. Zahka.

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