Chest pain in children is relatively common and often nothing to worry about, but it’s helpful to know when to contact your child’s doctor.

What are the causes of chest pain in children?
 If your child is complaining of chest pains (or a “sore heart”), book an appointment with your paediatrician or family doctor.

Is your child complaining of a “sore heart”? They could be suffering from chest pain.

Chest pain in children is relatively common and can come from a multitude of sources. Almost every structure in the chest can produce pain, including the lungs, ribs, chest wall muscles, diaphragm, and joints between the ribs and breastbone. Chest pain can be caused by an injury, illness, or irritation to the chest area and, in some cases, pain can be referred from another location (such as the abdomen).

Chest pain caused by common conditions

While chest pain could be a sign of a dangerous underlying condition, in most cases childhood chest pain is caused by benign or self-limiting disorders. Some common illnesses that might cause chest pain are listed below.


Costochondritis develops as a result of inflammation at the “joint” between the breastbone and the ribs. It is most common in adolescent and pre-adolescent girls, but it can affect anyone at any age. Upper respiratory symptoms are frequently associated with this sickness and are often caused by viral illness or frequent coughing. A course of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, is usually prescribed.


There are numerous sources of injury to the muscles and bones of the chest wall. Some are visible, such as a direct blow or a fall during a sporting event. Other less visible causes include hard lifting, frequent coughing, and intensive aerobic exercise, all of which can induce rib muscle tension. Rest and over-the-counter pain medications are commonly used as treatment. Consult with your child’s doctor if your child continues to complain of chest pain.

Anxiety or Stress

Just like adults, children can experience anxiety and stress, which can manifest as chest pain. Underlying stressors that are common in children include the death of a relative or pet, school exams, and fights with friends. Your family doctor will be able to distinguish whether your child’s chest pain is the source or the outcome of anxiety and treat it accordingly.

Precordial Catch Syndrome

This condition affects teens and is distinguished by the abrupt onset of acute, stabbing pain along the chest or back. Precordial catch syndrome has no severe adverse effects, despite the fact that its source is unknown. There is no specific treatment, and the frequency of incidents normally decreases as puberty progresses.

Acid reflux

Many children experience acid reflux, which can sometimes feel like a burning sensation below the sternum, although younger children may not be able to describe this symptom appropriately. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are now available to treat acid reflux.

What should I do if my child is experiencing chest pain?

Don’t freak out! Remember that most cases of chest pain are caused by a minor or self-limiting sickness. It is doubtful that heart disease or any major condition is the cause.

However, if your child is experiencing severe chest discomfort or chest pain that is accompanied by difficulty breathing, fever, sweating, or a heart rate of more than 200, you should seek medical attention immediately. Rather than booking an appointment with a specialist, it is usually best to start with your paediatrician or family doctor.

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