Pleurisy Or Pleuritic Chest Pain

Chest pain is a common medical condition which many people experience in their lifetime. There may be many reasons for chest pain to occur. It may be musculoskeletal due to stress on the muscles. It also may be caused due to anxiety. Cardiac conditions also cause chest pain like a mitral valve prolapse. One such condition which causes chest pain is Pleuritic Chest Pain. In this article, we will discuss about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of Pleuritic Chest Pain.

Pleuritic Chest Pain

How Do We Define Pleuritic Chest Pain?

Pleuritic Chest Pain is defined as a chest pain syndrome which is characterized by severe sharp chest pain which has a tendency to get worse with breathing. Pleuritic Chest Pain is caused as a result of inflammation of linings around the lungs which is also called the pleura. This condition is also known by the name of Pleuritis. To understand Pleuritic Chest Pain one needs to know about what is Pleura. As stated above, pleura is a lining around the lungs. There are basically two layers of pleura in which one lining covers the lung which is called as visceral pleura and the other layers covers the inner wall of chest and is called as parietal pleura. The pleural fluid does the job of lubricating these two layers. Pleuritic Chest Pain is usually as a result of collection of excess fluid in the space between two layers of pleura. This is also called as Pleural Effusion. When the pleural tissues get inflamed, they result in severe chest pain which gets worse with breathing. Some of the other symptoms of Pleuritic Chest Pain are cough, tenderness in the region of the chest, and feeling of shortness of breath.

Some Common Facts about Pleuritic Chest Pain

Some Of The Common Facts That One Should Know About Pleuritic Chest Pain Are Described Below:

  • It is a medical condition which is characterized by severe chest pain worsening with breathing.
  • It is caused as a result of the inflammation of the linings around the lungs
  • It is usually associated with accumulation of excess fluid in the between the layers of the pleura.

Causes Of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Pleuritic Chest Pain Can Be As A Result Of Any Of The Following Medical Conditions:

  • Bacterial infections, viral infections, or parasites
  • Inhalation of toxic substances or chemicals especially in the working environment and exposure to ammonia
  • Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Metastasis
  • Mesothelioma
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Any sort of trauma to the chest and/or ribs
  • Certain drugs can also cause Pleuritic Chest Pain like hydralazine, Procan, Dilantin etc.
  • Abdominal conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, gallbladder disease etc. can also cause Pleuritic Chest Pain.
  • Pneumothorax

Symptoms Of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Some Of The Signs And Symptoms Of Pleuritic Chest Pain Are

  • Chest pain that worsens with breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A stabbing sensation in the chest

The most common symptom of Pleuritic Chest Pain is chest pain that gets exacerbated with inspiration which is caused due to excess fluid present in the pleura.

Diagnosis Of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Usually chest pain caused as a result of Pleuritic Chest Pain can be mistaken for pain being caused by a heart attack or pericarditis etc.

Hence for confirmatory diagnosis of Pleuritic Chest Pain, the physician conducts an examination of the chest region and is able to hear sounds that are generated as a result of friction of the inflamed layers of the pleura with breathing. This sound that the physician hears is termed a "Pleural Friction Rub." There is also dullness to percussion with physical examination.

Apart from the physical exam, the physician will also conduct a chest x-ray to look for fluid in the pleural space. It is believed that as much as 5 liters of fluid can get accumulated in the pleural space.

Other methods of diagnosing Pleuritic Chest Pain are: Ultrasound of the chest and CT scan.

Aspiration of the pleural fluid and then examining it is very important in the diagnosis of Pleuritic Chest Pain.

Treatment for Pleuritic Chest Pain

The main form of treatment for Pleuritic Chest Pain is external splinting of chest wall and pain relievers to help with the pain. Apart from this, identifying the main cause of Pleuritic Chest Pain and treating it helps a long way in getting rid of the pain caused by Pleuritic Chest Pain. As an example, if there is a cardiac condition that is causing Pleuritic Chest Pain the, treatment of that condition will help in treating Pleuritic Chest Pain. Aspiration of fluid from the pleura can make the condition worse as then the layers of the pleura start rubbing against each other directly without any form of lubrication.

  • In case investigation of the aspirated pleural fluid indicates infection, treatment of the infection with appropriate antibiotics is essential.
  • If there is pus found inside the pleural space, then insertion of a chest tube to drain the pus is required.
  • In more severe cases where there are large amounts of pus accumulated, then a procedure called as decortication is done. This procedure is done to examine the pleural space with the use of a thoracoscope and removing the pus and other debris from the pleural space.
  • In instances when there is accumulation of fluid due to cancer in which case the chances of re-accumulation of fluid is more, then a procedure called pleurodesis is done.

Prevention of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Pleuritic Chest Pain in some instances can be prevented but it is based on a case to case basis. As an example, if there is a heart condition causing Pleuritic Chest Pain then appropriate and timely management of the condition can prevent Pleuritic Chest Pain.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: April 30, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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