Skip to main content

Thoracic Pain

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

Thoracic pain is discomfort in any area between your neck and your abdomen. Thoracic pain may be caused by health conditions that affect your gastrointestinal system, lungs, bones, or muscles. It can also be caused by trauma, panic attacks, or anxiety related to stress.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a period of thoracic pain that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • Your thoracic pain gets worse.
  • You have a history of angina (pressure or squeezing chest pain) and your usual medicine does not work.
  • You have thoracic pain with shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, or nausea.
  • You have thoracic pain that spreads to your arm, neck, back, jaw, or stomach.

Contact your healthcare provider or specialist if:

  • Your thoracic pain is not relieved by resting, heat, or medicines.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a prescription. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Apply heat to the area. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
  • Limit physical activity that causes pain. Rest as needed. Ask your healthcare provider how long you should limit activity.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.