Fibro and Chest Pain - what you need to know

  • Fibromyalgia


Leva Clinic

First Published 5/16/2024

Last Updated 5/16/2024

Fibro chest pain


This article has been reviewed by a Leva pain specialist clinician May 2024. Please remember that all herbal remedies should be checked with your GP due to interactions with other medication.

Experiencing chest pain can naturally set off alarm bells, prompting immediate concerns about cardiac issues or other serious conditions. However, for individuals living with fibromyalgia, distinguishing between fibro-related chest pain and other causes can pose a unique challenge.

According to a study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, 54% of people in the study with fibromyalgia reported experiencing chest pain, a significantly higher prevalence compared to 4% in the control group [1].

In this article, we unravel the complexities of fibromyalgia chest pain, offering insights to help you navigate this often perplexing aspect of fibro and providing practical tips for relief and management.

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What does fibromyalgia chest pain feel like?

Unlike acute cardiac-related chest pain, fibromyalgia chest pain tends to be more diffuse and chronic, often lasting for extended periods.

Additionally, fibro chest pain may fluctuate in intensity and is frequently accompanied by other fibromyalgia symptoms such as fatigue and muscle stiffness.

Fibro chest pain can manifest in various ways, ranging from a dull ache or pressure to sharp, stabbing sensations. It may feel like tightness or discomfort across the chest or radiate to the shoulders, arms or back.

Importantly, it's crucial to trust your body's signals and seek medical attention if you’re worried about chest pain - especially if it's accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea.

What causes fibro chest pain?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition known for causing widespread muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and mood swings. Though researchers continue to study it, the exact reasons behind fibromyalgia remain a bit of a mystery.

However, experts suspect that a combination of factors, like genetics, environment and how the body processes pain, may all play a role in its development and how long it sticks around.

Chest pain associated with fibromyalgia can result from:

1. Muscle tension and trigger points

Fibromyalgia often involves widespread muscle pain and tension throughout the body, including the chest area.

Trigger points, which are sensitive areas in muscles, can cause localised pain that may radiate to the chest.

2. Costochondritis

This condition involves inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum (breastbone). It can cause chest pain that may mimic the pain of a heart attack. Costochondritis is common in fibromyalgia patients.

3. Stress and anxiety

Fibromyalgia is often associated with heightened stress levels and anxiety, which can manifest as chest pain or discomfort due to muscle tension and increased heart rate.

4. Sensitivity of the nerves

Fibromyalgia may involve a heightened sensitivity to pain, including in the chest area. Nerves become more sensitive, leading to increased perception of pain.

5. Other underlying conditions

Fibro often coexists with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which can also contribute to chest pain

What can cause fibro chest pain

6 other causes of chest pain that aren’t fibromyalgia

When it comes to chest pain, it's essential to consider that not all discomfort is linked to fibromyalgia.

Here are some other common causes of chest pain worth evaluating to help pinpoint the underlying cause of pain.

1. Musculoskeletal issues

Strained muscles, rib cage injuries, or inflammation of the chest wall can all lead to chest discomfort.

2. Gastrointestinal problems

Acid reflux, gastritis or oesophageal spasms can cause chest pain that may be mistaken for heart-related issues.

3. Respiratory conditions

Pneumonia, bronchitis or asthma exacerbations can trigger chest tightness or pain.

4. Anxiety and panic attacks

Intense stress or anxiety can manifest as chest pain, often accompanied by rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

5. Heart-related issues

While less common, conditions like angina, heartburn, or pericarditis can present with chest pain requiring prompt medical attention.

6. Other medical conditions

Conditions such as shingles, costochondritis or gallbladder disease may also cause chest discomfort.

Remember, if you experience sudden, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or any other concerning symptoms, it's crucial to seek urgent medical attention to rule out serious conditions like a heart attack or pulmonary embolism.

Should I push through fibromyalgia pain?

Pushing through fibromyalgia pain, whether it's in the chest or elsewhere, isn't always the best approach. While it's natural to want to soldier on, listening to your body and pacing yourself can be more beneficial in the long run.

When it comes to chest pain, it's essential to be more alert and less likely to push through it, as it can sometimes indicate more serious underlying issues that require prompt medical attention.

It's important to remember that fibromyalgia itself won't cause physical damage or get worse over time [2], even if it feels that way during flare-ups.

Instead of pushing through the pain, focus on finding strategies to manage it effectively.

Pain management programmes (PMPs) often include tools and techniques for coping with flare-ups, such as pacing activities, practicing relaxation techniques and learning to prioritise self-care.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can better manage fibromyalgia symptoms and improve your overall quality of life [3].

Fibromyalgia management

Find pain-life balance for your Fibromyalgia

Navigating the balance between pain and daily life with fibromyalgia requires a comprehensive approach. This includes integrating self-care strategies, considering potential medical interventions and making lifestyle adjustments to reduce discomfort and have better days.

Wishing you success in finding your pain-life balance with fibro and chest pain.





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