What Causes Electric Shock Feeling in Chest?
Any feeling in the chest can raise an alarm in one's mind. Be it any pain or any type of sensation, one is sure to think about heart problem. But the fact is, every feeling in the chest is not a heart attack. There are many types of sensations and pains occurring in the chest area. If it is the electric shock feeling in the chest, which is bothering you, it is important to know what causes electric feeling in the chest.
What is an Electric Shock Feeling in Chest?
Electric shock like feeling in the chest can be momentary discomfort in the chest, which causes sudden, sharp pain. Such sharp pains in chest are often rapid and last for few seconds to minutes or sometimes more. Electric feeling in chest is a feeling of discomfort or a feeling of uneasiness with sudden shooting type of sensation in the chest.
While pain is an associated factor with electric feeling in the chest, one may be able to pin point a local area of discomfort or sometimes a sharp sensation may radiate along a particular course. It may be accompanied with movements of chest muscles and arms, while breathing or during changes in posture. Some may also feel pain and electric feeling in chest during change of weather and particularly when it is very cold.
Electric shock feeling in chest can be a result of many causes varying in severity. While most of the times, common conditions cause chest pain, sometimes, serious conditions may be present, requiring immediate medical care. Hence, it is essential to be aware of the causes of electric feeling in chest and take appropriate measures.
What Causes Electric Shock Feeling in Chest?
Chest pain commonly results from various causes and some of them can be experienced as electric shock feeling in chest, accompanied by pain and discomfort. Some of the common causes include:
Electric Shock Feeling in Chest Caused Due to Musculoskeletal Problems
Sudden sharp pains in the chest with electric feeling in chest are commonly a result of musculoskeletal problems. Such pains are usually associated with radiating pain from the affected joint or muscle. Lightning pain is felt when there is a muscle strain in the neck, arm or chest muscles or bone injury as in case of fractures, dislocations or trauma to structures of the head, neck, arms, ribs and sternum. Musculoskeletal pain often worsens on movement of the affected joint or muscle and changes in posture.
Electric Shock Feeling in Chest Caused by Post Herpetic Neuralgia1
Individual may suffer with a condition known as intercostal neuralgia. Intercostal neuralgia is caused by viral infection that may affect intercostal nerve cells and intercostal nerve. Such condition causes electric shock like chest wall pain. Pain is observed on either side of chest anywhere from clavicle down to upper abdomen. Post herpetic neuralgia affecting intercostal nerve is caused by A viral chicken pox virus and condition is known as shingles. Shingles viruses affects intercostal nerve and causes burning type of electric shock feeling pain in chest, when the chest region is involved.
Electric Shock Feeling is caused by Scarring of Post-Surgical Wound1
Individual following chest or thoracic surgery often feels electric shock feeling along the ribs. Such pain is caused by intercostal neuralgia. The surgical incision is in most cases taken between the ribs. The intercostal nerve lies over the inside surface of ribs. In few cases healing of surgical wound causes buildup of thick scar tissue because of keloid formation. In most cases intercostal nerve gets trapped in keloid tissue and gets pinched. Such condition causes severe intercostal pain that most often is felt as shock like chest wall pain.
Electric Shock Feeling in Chest Caused Due to Gastric Disorders
Acid reflux is a common cause of chest pain, particularly felt in the middle, behind the breast bone. It may be present slightly towards the left, near the tummy region and may be associated with gastric complaints. Indigestion, burning sensation in the stomach or throat, nausea, vomiting or regurgitation of food, pain in abdomen, bloating or changes in bowel movements may be present. The diseases of stomach like gastric or peptic ulcer2 and gastritis also causes epigastric and left sided chest wall pain. The lower end of esophageal ulcer and inflammation like esophagitis causes epigastric or mediastinal pain. Thus diseases resulting in irritation of mucosal membrane of food pipe frequently causes electric shock feeling in the chest. Pain due to formation of gases or gallstones is commonly felt under the right lower ribs, but sharp pains can be felt in the chest area.
Respiratory Disorders That Can Cause Electric Shock Feeling in Chest
Disorders of the lung, which include asthma, infections like pneumonia, inflammation of the membranes of lung, pleurisy etc. can cause chest pain and discomfort. Sharp electric shock feeling like pains in the chest can be experienced, which is influenced by breathing and when inhaling deeply.
Cardiac Causes of Electric Shock Feeling in Chest
Chest pain related to the heart can present as sudden discomfort in the chest, with an electric shock feeling in chest. It is often associated with pressing pain, discomfort and pain in arms, neck, jaw and back. Chest pain of this type is called angina and may be a result of momentary disturbance in blood flow to the heart. Other cardiac related conditions that affect blood circulation, heart muscles or valves of the heart can sometimes cause discomfort in the chest.
How is Electric Shock Feeling in Chest Treated?
Treatment of electric shock feeling in chest depends on the underlying cause. Clinical history and necessary investigations performed help in making a diagnosis. The conservative treatment helps in most cases. Conservative treatment for electric shock like feeling in chest usually involves following choices-
Pain when caused by shingles, peptic ulcer and heart diseases may not respond to conservative treatment. Intercostal neuralgia caused by shingles or nerve trapped in scar tissue is often treated by interventional pain therapy. Interventional pain therapy includes cortisone injection of nerve, epidural steroid injection and placement of spinal cord stimulator.
Treatment of electric shock like chest pain caused by non-cardiac diseases:
- NSAIDS- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Interventional pain therapy
- Nerve block
- Thoracic epidural steroid injection
- Placement of spinal cord stimulator3
Treatment of Chest Wall Pain Caused By Cardiac Diseases-
Pain caused by diseases like angina or myocardial infarction are treated by hospital admission. Patient, during admission, is thoroughly investigated to find the cause of pain. Cardiac disease are treated with following options of treatment.
Treatment of Cardiac Diseases
- Cardiac angiography and dilatation of coronary artery
- Coronary artery stent placement
- Open heart surgery
What to Watch Out For?
As causes of electric shock feeling in chest vary from mild to serious ones, it is important to know the warning signs to seek immediate medical care. When chest discomfort is associated with sweating, nausea, vomiting or difficulty in breathing, it needs immediate attention. Any weakness caused in arms, neck, changes in speech or jaw movements, etc. need to be evaluated. Any sudden changes that make one feel uncomfortable should be immediately reported.
Posttraumatic and postsurgical neuropathic pain responsive to treatment with capsaicin 8% topical patch.
Approach to Patients with Epigastric Pain.
Reprogramming of in situ spinal cord stimulator for covering newly developed postthoracotomy pain.