What Causes Chest Pain When Bending Over?

chest pain when bending over

Do you experience pain or discomfort in your chest when bending over?

Chest pain refers to the pain anywhere in the chest area from the level of your shoulders to the ribs.

There are many reasons why you experience pain in your chest. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common causes for the chest pain when bending over.

Also Read: What Causes Pain Under Left Rib Cage and How Is It Treated?

Pain in the Chest When Bending Over: Is It Pericarditis?

Pain in the chest, when bending or leaning over, is a symptom usually associated with Pericarditis.

Pericarditis is a medical condition which can be defined as inflammation of the thin membrane surrounding the heart and keeps it in its proper anatomic location. Swelling of this membrane can cause chest pain.

Dr. Hedgepeth, chief of cardiology at Care New England says that inflammation of the lining around the heart can be traced back to a recent heart attack.

Chest pain when lying down

Heart attacks can lead to an immune response that can result in swelling of the pericardial sac. This kind of post-heart attack pericarditis is called Dressler’s syndrome.

However, there are some non-cardiac causes behind chest pain that you might feel when you lean over.

More often than not, pericarditis is associated with:

  • Infection (virus, rheumatic fever or tuberculosis)
  • Cancer (lung, breast, renal cell cancer, Hodgkin’s disease and lymphoma)
  • Immune disorders such as lupus
  • New radiation therapy to the chest area
  • Reaction to certain drugs

Recent chest wall trauma, musculoskeletal injury, and herpes zoster can be all ruled out.

What Causes Chest Pain When Bending Over or Lying Down?

Following are the common health conditions that may cause pain or discomfort in your chest when you bend over.

1. Angina

Angina is a pain that comes from the heart. The heart muscle needs a right amount of blood supply, and the coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle.

But if the coronary arteries get narrowed, it’s going to result in a reduced amount of blood to the heart muscle.

This narrowing is a result of fatty patches or plaques (atheroma) which can develop over the years within the inside lining of the arteries. They may be in more than one place in the coronary arteries.

The shortened blood supply to the heart may be enough for when you’re resting. But when your heart works harder, like when you’re exercising, it needs more blood and oxygen.

If the extra blood doesn’t make it through the narrowed coronary arteries, your heart’s natural response would be to hurt. And this is responsible for chest pain.

This pain caused by Angina may feel like discomfort or tightness in your chest and usually eases when you rest for 10 minutes.

Angina can also be responsible for chest pain when bending over. If you think that you have this kind of pain, it would be wise to see a medical professional about it.

2. Muscle Strain

A trauma due to muscle strain can cause pain on either side of your chest.

You may experience the pain in your chest while bending over as it shoots out of nowhere. It can feel like a pang of discomfort and uneasiness.

Muscle strain can occur due to intense strength training or upper body exercises. It can also happen as a result of overexertion during any vigorous activity. It may also be a result of tension and anxiety.

3. Blunt trauma to the chest

Chest pain can also hit you because of tears to the pectoralis muscle.

They are usually a result of indirect shock or a direct blow to the chest. Blunt trauma can also lead to rib fractures or potential rib displacement.

Symptoms of a chest injury include:

  • Chest pain while bending over
  • Chest pain that gets worse with coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

If you’re a victim of any of the above symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately. They can help determine if your injury needs any treatment or if it will heal on its own.

4. Indigestion or Heartburn

Heartburn can be defined by the burning sensation you feel after eating, bending over, working out and even when lying down at night.

More often than not, it’s acid reflux which takes place when your stomach acid goes back to the esophagus.

Along with chest pain, you might:

Indigestion means an upset stomach. It usually doesn’t cause chest pain, but it may show up alongside heartburn.

Symptoms are:

5. Costochondritis

Chest pain is one of the main symptoms of costochondritis. This is a condition where your rib cage cartilage swells up.

The pain from costochondritis can be severe or mild, and it usually occurs on the left side, but it can make your right side of the chest ache as well.

Some other symptoms of costochondritis are back pain, pain in the abdomen and pain that gets worse with movements like bending over, exertion, deep breathing, and coughing.

This is sharp chest pain, and it can feel like a heart attack, so it would be wise to go to the doctor so that you can be treated.

6. Cholecystitis

Cholecystitis, also known as gallbladder inflammation, takes place when there’s bile build-up in your gallbladder. More often than not, it’s caused by gallstones blocking the tube that leads out of the organ.

The gallbladder may also swell up because of difficulty with your bile duct or tumors.

Cholecystitis doesn’t usually cause chest pain, but you might feel some pain while bending over. This is an intense pain that shoots up in the upper right abdomen and may shoot up to the right – not left – shoulder or back.

Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Appetite loss
  • Tenderness when touching your abdomen

7. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is a condition where your digestive enzymes start working while they are still in the pancreas.

These enzymes aggravate your pancreas’ cells, causing the organ to swell up. Reasons behind pancreatitis can be alcoholism or gallstones.

Chest pain isn’t a symptom of pancreatitis, but you may feel pain in your upper abdomen while bending over, which might then proceed to your back, and this can add to the uneasiness in your chest.

Some other symptoms of acute pancreatitis are as followed:

If it becomes chronic, you might have an oily stool and abnormal weight loss.

8. Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the more common causes of chest pain. Along with feeling worried and tense and fearful, anxiety can more often than not cause a lot of physical discomfort and chest pain is one of its vices.

In some people, chest pain caused by anxiety can be so severe that it can be mistaken for angina. Chest pain because of anxiety is known as Da Costa’s syndrome.

Da Costa’s syndrome is seen to be more common in people who have had a heart attack recently. Research shows that the coronary arteries remain normal with no narrowing.

Unusual pain in the chest can shoot up during panic attacks caused by anxiety, especially when there’s movement in the body. For example, when bending over.

Some symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Fainting

9. Shingles

Shingle is an infection induced by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.

Shingles don’t lead to chest pain, but it might make you feel like you’re having problems with your heart or lungs, depending on where the virus infection is located.

Alongside a rash, some symptoms include:

Home remedies can help with shingles, but seeing a doctor about the infection can help because he can give you something to clear up the infection and something to help with the pain.

10. Pneumothorax

Abrupt, sharp pain in the chest is the primary symptom of pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung.

It can cause strain on either side of your chest, which is usually the result of the injury.

It may also be a result of ruptured air blisters, lung disease or ventilator use.

Symptoms are as followed:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain when bending over
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Rapid heart rate
  • A cough
  • Fatigue

You should seek immediate medical care if you think you have a collapsed lung.

Read Next:

Dromey, M. Nwaneri, C., & Wilson, D. (2017, July 13). Severe chest pain in an asthmatic patient. BMJ, 358. Retrieved from https://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j2972.full
Gyawali, C. P. (2010, August). Esophageal hypersensitivity. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 6(8), 497–500. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2950665/
Heart attack: Know the symptoms. Take action. (2011, December). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/heart_attack_fs_en.pdf
Heart attack signs and symptoms. (2015, August 5). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/signs_symptoms.htm
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (2018, March 15). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Cardiomyopathy/Hypertrophic-Cardiomyopathy_UCM_444317_Article.jsp#.Wt5P_C-ZOuU%5D

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Dr. Mark Williams, MD

Dr. Mark Williams is a leader in alternative and integrated medicines. He is a medical writer and reviewer at Daily Health Cures. He received his medical degree in 1988. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Daily Health Cures editorial team. He is a natural health advisor and provides a variety of alternative healing techniques in his practice.