Right chest pain


Chest pain on the right side is usually much less common than on the left side. On the left is the heart, which is often the cause of pain from chronic or acute illness. On the other hand, there are parts of the lungs, vessels and parts of the diaphragm on the right side. But the pain can also radiate from the left side and supposedly be assigned to the right half of the chest.

You can read about other causes of chest pain in our article Chest pain.


Chest pain in the right side of the body can have various causes. Some of them can be harmless, others can be an indication of a serious illness. One possible cause can be an acidic stomach, which leads to the affected person developing heartburn. In an overly acidic stomach, the parietal cells in the lining of the stomach produce too much acid. The acid eventually reaches the esophagus through constant belching. This reflux can be very uncomfortable and painful. This pain can radiate from the breastbone to both the right and left halves of the chest.

The gastric acid reflux is easier when lying down. Therefore, those affected have more pain, especially at night and in the morning. Lying down with the upper body raised often provides relief. Sudden onset of pain in the right chest can be due to vertebral blockages, bruises and rib fractures. While bruises and rib fractures usually arise in the course of an accident, a blockage of a vertebral body can also develop gradually and only cause pain in an advanced stage. Muscle and nerve cords are stimulated.

Blockages of one or more vertebrae can lead to severe restriction of movement and cause corresponding pain, which can then radiate into the chest. Infectious diseases such as shingles (Herpes zoster) can cause symptoms such as chest pain. This is a viral disease that causes a painful, belt-shaped rash on the back. This rash is particularly triggered by stress and a weakened immune system and can lead to severe discomfort.

The gallbladder and pancreas sit under the diaphragm. Acute inflammation or chronic diseases can cause chest pain that the pain can also spread upwards. The same symptoms can be triggered by stuck gallstones. Diaphragmatic hernias can also cause chest discomfort. Abdominal organs shift into the chest cavity through muscle gaps in the diaphragm. If the pressure in the abdomen is too high, they push themselves through the gaps. Parts of the organs can thus be pinched and, in the worst case, be insufficiently supplied with blood. They can also be painful and should be treated.

In addition, pneumonia (pneumonia), which causes pain especially when inhaling and coughing. Pneumonia that eventually spreads further can also affect the lung membrane. The lung membrane (Pleura) is very sensitive and, accordingly, inflammation and injuries can cause severe pain. The pain is mostly of a stabbing character and also occurs depending on movement.

A pulmonary embolism is also an option. This causes a blood clot to loosen and block a vessel in the lungs. The result is suddenly sharp pain, shortness of breath and possibly loss of consciousness. Pain in the right half of the chest with an unclear cause should always be examined more closely by a doctor.

Read more about the topic here: Tension in the chest

Right chest pain illustration

Figure chest pain right: internal organs seen from the front, partly projection onto the anterior chest wall and possible causes (A-D)

Right chest pain

  1. Sternum - sternum
  2. Right lung - Pulmodexter
  3. Pericardium - Pericardium
  4. Rib - Costa
  5. Diaphragm - Diaphragm
  6. Liver - Hepar
  7. Gallbladder - Vesica biliaris
  8. Stomach - Gaster
  9. Pancreas -
    A - pneumonia
    (Pneumonia), Pulmonary embolism
    B - acidic stomach -
    (Gastric acid reflux
    into the esophagus)
    C - gallstones (picture),
    Gallbladder inflammation,
    Biliary colic
    D - inflammation of the

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations

Inflammation of the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small, bile-filled organ located on the lower edge of the liver in the right upper abdomen. If the gallbladder is inflamed, pain can occur there. These are due to the inflammation of the gallbladder itself as well as the biliary tract. Spasms of the smooth muscles in the biliary tract and gall bladder can also cause this pain.

Typically, the pain is felt on the lower edge of the right costal arch, but it can radiate to the right shoulder and therefore cause general chest pain on the right.

Read more on the subject at: Gallbladder pain


Various measures are used in diagnosing right chest pain. At the beginning there is a targeted questioning of the patient. It is important to know how severe the chest pain is on the right, when and since when it began, whether there are triggers and whether it is breath-dependent. The question of whether an injury has occurred and any accompanying symptoms can also speed up the diagnosis.
Then the physical exam follows. Palpation of the ribs indicates fractures, and the lungs should be examined with a stethoscope to assess a so-called pneumothorax, which corresponds to a collapsed lung.

Apparatus-based methods are also important for diagnosing right chest pain. In the case of chest pain on the right, an EKG should always be performed to rule out an insufficient supply of the heart, i.e. in the worst case of a heart attack. Even if this is more noticeable on the left side, chest pain can also occur on the right.
An X-ray of the chest also makes sense. Here you judge the shape and size of the lungs and heart. In addition, there may be indications of rib fractures or processes in the lungs such as pneumonia or neoplasm. In cases of doubt or suspicion of e.g. Pulmonary embolism, further measures such as CT or MRI are useful to diagnose right chest pain. Depending on the results of the initial examinations, further steps can follow to make a definitive diagnosis.


In the case of chest pain on the right, it is difficult to make a definitive statement about the duration of the symptoms. This is because the duration depends on the Cause of chest pain right as well as from Extent of the disease is. If the rib is bruised or fractured, the duration of the chest pain is often on the right some weeks. Pinched nerves in the rib area can also occur without proper diagnosis For months Cause pain.
Pneumonia can also develop over days Experience pain in the chest area, but it will go away after antibiotic therapy is used. With pneumothorax it can be that only at the beginning sharp pain was noticeable, which can no longer be felt in the course. Unless it's one Tension pneumothoraxcausing severe pain until relief in the clinic.

If you have circulatory problems in your heart over months and years repeatedly right chest pain in the sense of a Angina pectoris occur that show up during physical exertion and disappear again at rest. In the case of an acute myocardial infarction, the symptoms last until the vessel is opened again.

Sharp chest pain on the right

Sudden sharp pain in the chest can have a variety of causes. If there are other symptoms such as sweating, shortness of breath and an oppressive feeling, these symptoms can indicate an acute heart attack. However, circulatory disorders in the supplying vessels, pericardial inflammation or rhythm disturbances can also be the reasons for the acute pain attack in the chest. The lungs can also be the cause of the symptoms. A cold that is deep in the lungs and possibly even led to pneumonia or bronchitis can cause the sharp pain in the chest.

In some cases, lung cancer can also be painful. Persistent complaints over a longer period of time are an indication here. The various diseases in the lungs are often made worse by breathing. In some cases, a painful cough may also occur. Muscle tension or poor posture can also trigger these symptoms. The pain is often an indication of poor posture at work and insufficient movement. Massages and regular exercise as well as physiotherapy can quickly provide relief.

Furthermore, the psychological aspect should not be disregarded. People who are under a lot of stress and pressure, who have little time to exercise and eat a healthy diet due to work, may develop similar symptoms. At some point, the body defends itself against this enormous pressure to perform and the stress and demands rest periods. Often it is difficult for doctors but also for patients to find out the psyche as the cause of the complaints, because all possible reasons are first looked for in the organs.

If the causes are psychosomatic, the patient should try to accept them and make changes to their lifestyle. Exercise or regular breaks during the day can often alleviate the symptoms. In some cases, psychotherapy may also be advisable. It can help to deal better with the stress and the pressure to perform and shows the person affected how they can react better to it.

Read more on the subject at: Heart pounding

Differences between men and women

Chest pain on the right in the woman

Right breast pain in women, among other things, may be related to the monthly cycle. Due to the hormonal changes in the body, various organs, including the glandular tissue of the breast, can also react to these changes. The pain is particularly common in some women a few days before the onset of monthly bleeding. These symptoms can affect just one breast or both breasts.

The hormones progesterone and estrogen can cause the glandular tissue to swell. The skin and the muscles can be displaced as a result. The pain is often accompanied by a feeling of tightness and hypersensitivity of the nipple. The symptoms often subside when the menstrual period has started. Cooling ointments and comfortable clothing can help against the feeling of tension and pain.

The symptoms can also be caused by other organic causes. In the right half of the chest, for example, the lungs or organs adjacent to the diaphragm may be affected. Gallstones, inflammation of the pancreas, an overly acidic stomach, or pneumonia may be the cause.

Last but not least, the chest pain or the pulling in the chest can also radiate from another area of ​​the body to the right half of the chest. Accordingly, a disease of the heart can also be considered for the symptoms. Long-term complaints that do not resolve on their own should always be clarified by a doctor, as the causes can be so diverse. Some are harmless, while others can create further complications if not treated early.

Chest pain on the right in the man

Chest pain in men can have many different causes. The more harmless diseases include an acidic stomach, pneumonia, muscle tension and vertebral blockages.

There are several possible diseases of the lungs. In addition to classic pneumonia, a painful lung tumor, a so-called Pancoast tumor in the tip of the lung, can also trigger the symptoms. In addition to possible pain, it causes a constriction of the pupil, a drooping upper eyelid and a sinking back of the eyeball.

Other lung diseases can occur, such as pneumonia or sudden pulmonary embolism. The cause can also affect other organs. Some heart diseases such as myocardial infarction, circulatory disorders, or arrhythmias can be responsible for the pain.

Organs such as the gallbladder or the pancreas can also be affected. In the case of gallstones or inflammation of the pancreas, the pain can radiate into the upper body, which often leaves the cause undetected. In men, a psychological aspect is also more common.

Work stress and pressure to perform can also cause pain in the right half of the chest. In any case, thoracic pain should be clarified by a doctor because it can also be an indication of a serious or in some cases life-threatening disease.

Read more on the topic: Chest pain in men

When does your chest pain occur?

Right chest pain on inhalation

In some cases, patients experience chest pain in the right side, which is mainly felt when you breathe in (pain when you breathe in). The fact that the chest pain is breath-dependent on the right is already an indication of a problem in the lungs or on the chest wall.
Because the intercostal muscles are involved when you breathe in, your ribs and muscles can be the source of pain. This could be a bruise or a fracture, and pinching of nerves is also possible. Then rest, pain therapy and possibly straightening are indicated. Patients often refer to this chest pain as a pain in the heart when inhaling

If this is not the case, the cause of chest pain on the right when you inhale may be in the lungs or the pleura. Here pneumonia can lead to chest pain on the right when inhaling, which can also spread to the lung membrane. Then you feel pain especially when you inhale. A reliable diagnosis is made with an X-ray, and therapy consists of the administration of antibiotics.
Less serious, viral respiratory infections such as the flu can also cause such complaints, whereby only protection and symptom control help.

In rare cases, behind chest pain on the right when inhaling, there is a malignant tumor or a pulmonary embolism.

Read more about the topic here: Pain on inhalation

Right chest pain after coughing

When coughing, increased pressure is typically built up in the chest. This is held and stabilized by the bony chest (ribs and sternum). If there are lesions in the chest area (bones, muscles, nerves), coughing can cause chest pain. If the chest pain is on the right side, this rather speaks against involvement of the organs in the chest, since most of them are in the middle (trachea, esophagus) or on the left (heart).
However, small adhesions in the lungs or diseases of the respiratory tract and lung tissue can be the cause of chest pain right when coughing.

Chest pain on the right after exercise

Chest pain right after exercise must be differentiated into unique pain that occurs after exercise and pain that occurs regularly appear after physical exertion. On the one hand, chest pain that occurred immediately after exercise can be Overexertion of the intercostal muscles represent or through trauma like one Collision be caused.
But especially young, healthy men can have a so-called. Spontaneous pneumothorax develop in which the lungs collapse for no apparent cause. This phenomenon occurs more intensely after exercise and can persist Breath-dependent chest pain on the right demonstrate. It should be clarified by a doctor, but is usually nothing to worry about.

One should be prudish when during or after sport regularly Chest pain occurs as here one Circulatory disorder of the heart may exist. It is then an angina pectoris, in which the coronary vessels no longer supply the heart muscle with sufficient blood when stressed. This can be left untreated in the Heart attack flow out. Thus, the chest pain occurs right after exercise too Shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea the symptoms should be clarified immediately to rule out problems with the heart.

Chest pain with back pain

Back pain can manifest itself in a number of ways. The most common cause of back pain is an imbalance in the muscles. The typically sedentary activity of the majority of the population leads to a weakening of the back muscles in combination with a long, constant posture of the back. This leads to tension in the back.
Typically this manifests itself as back pain in the chest area. Due to the interactions of the muscles of the body, these pains can radiate into the chest and thus also into the chest itself and become noticeable there.

Breast pain in pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman's body goes through many different changes. Many are due to the hormonal changes.
These are important, for example, to prepare the uterus for the impending pregnancy and the breasts for the subsequent breastfeeding.

For example, the hormones progesterone and estrogen stimulate the growth of a woman's breasts. More precisely, the mammary glands increase in volume in order to be able to produce enough milk for breastfeeding. In addition, more fat cells are formed, whereby the breast gains in total volume.

These changes can cause chest pain in many pregnant women. Overall, breasts are more sensitive and tense during pregnancy. Furthermore, the cause of chest pain, especially if it only affects one breast, can be an inflammation of a gland. The small ducts of the glands can easily narrow and bacteria can trigger an inflammatory reaction. The inflammation may subside on its own after a few days or should otherwise be assessed by a gynecologist. In addition to some home remedies such as quark compresses, cooling ointments, relaxation baths and loose, comfortable clothing help against breast pain during pregnancy.

Read more on the subject at: Breast pain in pregnancy

Chest pain when breastfeeding

When breastfeeding, chest pain is due to two different mechanisms. For example, increased milk production can lead to a feeling of tightness and the resulting pain in the chest. Ideally, the amount of milk produced should correspond to the amount the baby drinks. If this is not the case, the chest pain can be relieved, for example, by expressing the milk.

Another cause of chest pain can be inflammation of the chest. Small injuries to the skin can cause skin bacteria to penetrate the chest and cause local inflammation there. The chest is typically red and swollen, and it can also be painfully tense and overheated.

Read more on the subject at: Painful breastfeeding

Menopausal chest pain

During the menopause, many hormonal restructuring processes take place in the female body. Typically, this primarily affects the genital organs. These include the ovaries and the uterus, but the female breast can also be affected. This leads to increased fat in the breast while the connective tissue becomes weaker.
These changes can cause chest pain, but often occur on both sides (one after the other or at the same time). If the chest pain is only one-sided, a diagnosis should be made with a gynecologist. The reason for the pain can be, for example, cysts or tissue growth (benign or malignant) in the right breast.

Where does your chest pain occur?

Chest pain right and left

Chest pain in the left side of the body is far more common than in the right side. Last but not least, the heart is very often the cause of complaints. Various diseases can be present here. Direct pain in the heart (see: heart pain) can be an acute circulatory disorder. The complaints are summarized under the term angina pectoris. They are accompanied by a sudden attack of pain in the chest, a feeling of tightness and shortness of breath. The person concerned often develops great fear. The pain can also radiate to the right side. A narrowing of the coronary arteries can result in a threatening heart attack.

Read more on this topic at: Heart pain

If the coronary arteries become increasingly narrow due to deposits, the adjacent heart muscles are no longer adequately supplied with blood. A sharp sharp pain in the left chest sets in, which can be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating and nausea. This pain often radiates to the shoulder and left arm. But since the symptoms of a heart attack can be very different, the symptoms can also spread to the back and the right half of the chest. Patients are often scared to death and should be rushed to hospital as soon as possible.

Other possible diseases of the heart are irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure (hypertension). Here, too, pain occurs in the left half of the chest, accompanied by shortness of breath and headache. In an aortic aneurysm, the vessel wall of a bulge in the aorta tears. This is a life-threatening situation as the patient is losing a lot of blood. The complaints can radiate into the back and the entire chest.

Read more on the subject at: Left chest pain

Pain in the right chest and arm

In the case of chest pain on the right, it can develop into the shoulder and in the poor radiate. Chest pain that occurs in the left arm radiate, since this is classically with acute heart attack occurs. Immediate action with notification of the emergency services is then required.
In rare cases, there may also be pain in the chest and pulling in the arm on the right. Although this is not typical for a heart attack, this pain should also be clarified quickly.

Exercise-dependent chest pain on the right that originates from the heart can also radiate into the arm. Besides cardiac causes are also muscular or nerve problems possible with chest pain radiating into the arm. So can a Muscle tension in the chest about the wiring of the nerves in the arm, too direct nerve entrapment can express themselves like this.
Another trigger for chest pain on the right and in the arm can be the Gallbladder be responsible for the complaints. By Gallstones The cramp-like pain that is triggered is usually indicated in the upper abdomen, but it can also pull into the chest and typically also appear in the right arm.
In some cases there is also one Shingles Cause of the discomfort. This rash can be found anywhere on the body, including the chest and arm. Chest pain on the right that pulls into the arm can also occur here, whereby one skin rash looks over the painful areas.