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Have you experienced precordial catch syndrome?

Young woman with chest pain
Precordial Catch Syndrome is characterised by a sharp, stabbing pain that is painful to breathe through.

Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your ribs, that hurt when you breathed in, then quickly disappeared? While you might have panicked for a second thinking it was a heart attack, it’s possible you were actually experiencing precordial catch syndrome, a mysterious condition that can cause sharp and sudden pains in the ribs.

What is Precordial Catch Syndrome?

Precordial catch syndrome (PCS), or as it’s sometimes known, “Texidor’s Twinge”, is a condition that causes a sharp pain in the ribs that comes on and disappears quickly. PCS is often experienced by otherwise healthy children and adolescents.

The syndrome is characterised by a sharp, stabbing pain that is painful to breathe through, often on the upper left-hand side of the ribs. The good news is that the pain will usually go away by itself within a few minutes and doesn’t cause any health problems.

Woman experiencing chest pain

Doctors don’t quite know what causes PCS, though it’s thought it might have something to do with irritation of the nerves that line the chest wall. Some also think that PCS is more common during growth spurts. It seems to happen most when a child is at rest, sitting or lying down, and isn’t accompanied by other symptoms. The syndrome becomes much less common after the age of 20.

What to do if my child has chest pains?

It’s always wise to treat chest pain seriously. If there are any other symptoms accompanying your child’s pain, like nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness or shortness of breath, or the pain doesn’t go away quickly, you should seek immediate medical help.

Unexplained chest pain might cause you or your child some understandable anxiety. Even if your child’s chest pain is brief and doesn’t seem to be connected to other health concerns, raise it with your GP. If it’s PCS, have them explain what’s happening to you and your child, so the condition doesn’t keep causing you unnecessary worry.

You can always call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, with any questions about your health or your child’s health. If you think the situation is an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance straight away.

Last updated: 19 February 2019