Sharp chest pain after eating?

(Obvious caveat: no I’m not using the boards for credible medical advice)

Every once in awhile, soon after eating a decent meal, I start having chest pain on my left side. The catch is, I only get the pain when inhaling deeply! Just sitting here’s fine, but as soon as I completely inhale, the left side stings rather sharply.

Anyone get this? I don’t have any kind of chest pain any other time that I can remember. I’m 29, in good health, and exercising, but should I still see a doc about this? I’m thinking heartburn, but this isn’t the esophagus that’s stinging.

What do you define as a decent meal?

Do you remember any specific foods eaten right before the chest pain?

I get that every once and awhile, but not always after a meal, good or otherwise. It can be quite painful and usually goes away after a few minutes. It’s not heartburn, but it’s related. One doctor told me that when it starts to kneel and then put my head on the floor (like a Muslim praying) for about 5 minutes. Then roll over on my side and wait to burp to vent any trapped gas.

I get that too. No idea what causes it, but I’ve found stretching helps relieve it. Try holding your hands together behind your back and pull them as far back as possible behind you. This seems to release the pressure your chest muscles put on your ribcase, allowing easier breathing.

I’ll be watching this thread for a more informed response, as I’ve often worried if I was about to kick over from a heart attack or something. Damn you bacon, why must you be so delicious?!

That happens to me sometimes. It’s low, around the botttom of my ribs. Sometimes it feels like someone’s poking me in the back, too, behind the lower ribs. As it seems to pass after a while and I’m not dead yet, I assume it’s some odd harmless body anomaly thing.

I think I get something similar to this about once or twice a year. It’s always on the left side, more towards the side than the middle, always at the bottom of my ribs, and gets worse when I inhale deeply. So I’ll be another one who’s watching the thread with interest.

There are so many potential causes for chest pains that it isn’t safe to make guesses without a personal history and evaluation. One person’s inflammation of the rib can be another’s deadly aneurysm, so you are right not to look for credible medical advice here.

In most people, brief sharp pains that are triggered only by deep inspiration (called ‘pleuritic’ pains) and that localize fairly well are caused by stretching or irritation of the lining of the lung, heart and chest wall cavity. On occasion something under the diaphragm can also trigger similar pains. If the pains are brand new we look for new causes of irritation such as pneumonia and blood clots to the lung, or even a separation of the lung from the chest wall; this is usually caused by a little leak in the lung allowing air to get into that space (a pneumothorax). I point out these things to make note of the fact that serious diagnoses are almost in any differential diagnosis.

However, common things are common and most causes of this kind of pain, especially if they are very chronic, are from unexplained benign causes. Perhaps there is a little area of lung/chest lining that was inflamed in the past by a viral infection, say, and left a little part that has adhesions. Now when you take a deep breath, instead of the lung sliding smoothly over the chest wall as you breathe, the lung lining catches is one area and triggers this pain. It’s pretty common for the lung/chest/heart lining to get acutely inflamed by viruses such as the coxsackie virus. Most of the time this is beign but painful, and self-limited.

When you eat, the food has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is right under your diaphragm. If pains only occur after eating, it could be that the volume in the stomach changes the position of the organs in such a way that the pain is triggered.

Conditions in the lining of the chest and abdomen localize pains well, but pains in the esophagus and gut and gallbladder and other internal pains don’t localize well. For that reason, unfortunately, what might be the cause may not turn out to be the cause.

Most things in healthy people that are brief pains and have been going on for a long time aren’t serious. There’s always that one guy that manages to drop dead, though…

I get this to once in awhile. I’ve nearly always found that if I burp, it eases it.

I just figure is pressure from gas.

This happens to me too altho i tend more to get a pain in my arm, and it’s only when i eat certain “crappy” food like McDonalds or pizza.

I know that this post is 5 years old but I just happened to stumble upon it in a google search and I noticed some things about your reply Cheif Pedant:

(1)advanced knowledge of pulmonary medicine… (2)punch line at the end of a rather serious discussion… (3)“common things are common”… DR. RABADI ?!?

I get that too once in a while. It runs in series of 1-2 weeks. The first time I ran to the cardiologist, somewhat worried (I’m one of the oldest dopers !). He just said I have nothing.

Sigh of relief.

It doesn’t seem to be related to the digestive system.


I did. When combined with a burning in the throat at the very back its basically acid reflux. When combined with a minor pain as I breathe its some sort of hernia. But my mileage and yours could be worlds apart.

That post was in 2007.
If he had a hernia, he’s probably figured out by now.

Tough to say. It all comes down to

(wait for it)