Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS): A Syndrome Of Anterior Chest Pain

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Do you know what it’s like to have precordial catch syndrome? Have you ever had a severe pain in your ribcage that only hurt when you breathed in and then vanished? While you may have been scared for a moment, it’s probable you were really suffering from Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS), a mystery illness that causes severe and abrupt rib aches.

What Is Precordial Catch Syndrome? 

Precordial Catch Syndrome (PCS), sometimes known as “Texidor’s Twinge”, is a rib-related disease that causes a severe pain that comes on and goes rapidly. PCS affects a lot of kids and teenagers who are otherwise healthy.

The pain is intense and stabbing, and it is difficult to breathe through it. It usually occurs on the upper left side of the ribcage. The good news is that the discomfort generally goes away on its own in a matter of minutes and poses no health risks.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes PCS, although it’s considered to be related to irritation of the nerves that run down the chest wall. PCS is also thought to be more frequent during growth spurts, according to some. It appears to occur most frequently while a kid is at rest, either sitting or lying down, and is not accompanied by other symptoms. After the age of 20, the condition becomes significantly less prevalent.

Precordial Catch Syndrome in a Nutshell:

Precordial Catch Syndrome
  • Miller and Texidor originally characterised precordial catch syndrome in 1955 after observing it in ten patients, including Miller. It was characterised as a sharp, stabbing ache that began abruptly.
  • Sparrow and Bird reported in 1978 that 45 patients who were otherwise healthy had presented with the discomfort. They claimed that the disease was both widespread and underappreciated.
  • People with precordial catch syndrome usually outgrow it by the time they reach their twenties.
  • Although no treatment is generally necessary, anti-inflammatory medication may assist to alleviate the pain.

What is the Aetiology of Precordial Catch Syndrome?

Precordial Catch Syndrome

Doctors are still confused as to the exact aetiology of PCS. Some research has shown that growth spurts may raise the risk of PCS, or that it may be related to the nerves that border the chest wall.

When a kid breathes in when at rest (sitting or lying down), slouching, or bending over, the discomfort is frequently felt.

It does not occur while sleeping, and there is no obvious cause for the discomfort to begin. Some doctors feel it is more likely following a chest injury.

A growth spurt, poor posture, or an injury to the chest, such as a knock to the chest, can all cause precordial catch syndrome.

Precordial Catch Syndrome Symptoms 

Precordial catch syndrome is most common when a person is at rest, especially if they are slouched or leaning over.

When they breathe in, they describe a sharp, stabbing, or needle-like discomfort in their chest. The discomfort below the left nipple is very common.

The pain, which is unrelated to eating, generally lasts only a few minutes. This might take anywhere from a few seconds to three minutes. It may occur only once or several times during the day.

Deep breathing can worsen precordial catch syndrome, although there is no pain in the region. Unlike pain after a heart attack, it does not extend to other parts of the chest.

The intensity of the discomfort varies from person to person. Some people have a dull, annoyance-inducing ache. Others are in such excruciating agony that it causes temporary vision loss or blurriness.

The discomfort, which usually covers an area no larger than one or two fingertips, vanishes completely.

There are no additional symptoms or physical abnormalities in those who have precordial catch syndrome. They will not be pale, flushed, or wheezing, but they may feel lightheaded as a result of their shallow breathing. Their heart rate and rhythm are unaffected.

Is There Something to be Concerned About?

People with precordial catch syndrome prefer to take short breaths because it hurts to breathe deeply, which can cause light-headedness.

People may believe that the discomfort is a symptom of a more serious cardiac disease, such as a heart attack, due to the nature of the pain. Unnecessary, lengthy testing or referrals to cardiac experts can worsen this.

Adults vs. Children: PCS

PCS can strike at any age, although it is most prevalent in children aged 6 to 12. It’s not uncommon among adolescents and young adults, but beyond the age of 20, it’s far less frequent. Adults, on the other hand, might suffer from PCS.

Is There a Connection Between PCS and Anxiety?

Although PCS is not physiologically connected to anxiety, certain children and teens may experience anxiety as a result of experiencing the abrupt, acute sensations of PCS.

Because it occurs rapidly and the pain can be excruciating, a kid or adolescent may get concerned that they are suffering from a more serious disease, such as a heart attack.

While your kid may be concerned about the sudden onset of discomfort, PCS is not related to a heart attack, lung illness, or other severe medical issue.

The acute pain can be excruciating, especially when inhaling deeply, but it will go away on its own in a few minutes.

Furthermore, because the nature of the discomfort frequently makes deep breathing painful, your kid may begin taking short, rapid breaths in an attempt to alleviate the pain.

Shallow breathing is linked to anxiety in the body and can cause your kid to feel lightheaded, which may exacerbate their concerns.

PCS Diagnosis and Treatment


  • A detailed history and physical examination should almost entirely comprise the clinical diagnosis for precordial catch syndrome.
  • To rule out occult bone diseases, plain radiographs are recommended for all patients with discomfort considered to be coming from the chest wall.
  • If there has been trauma, radionuclide bone scanning should be considered to rule out occult rib or sternum fractures.
  • An ECG and an echocardiography are recommended based on the location of the discomfort, although the results are likely to be normal in individuals with precordial catch syndrome.
  • Additional tests may be required based on the patient’s clinical presentation (blood count, prostate-specific antigen level, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and antinuclear antibody testing).
  • If there is joint instability, magnetic resonance imaging of the joints is recommended.


PCS does not require treatment because the pain goes away on its own and has no long-term health consequences.

There are several things you can do at home, especially for children, to help relieve the discomfort when it occurs.

  • Encourage slow breathing: For some people, taking a slow, deep breath (although unpleasant at the time) enables the pain to subside after a short period of time. If your child refuses to take deep breaths, you might have them focus on taking soft and short breaths instead.
  • Help them sit up: Help your kid to relax and alter his or her posture from slouching or bending to sitting or standing straight. Encourage your youngster to sit up straight with shoulders back to avoid PCS from reoccurring.
  • Try Medication: If your kid or teenager has PCS on a frequent basis, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to assist reduce the pain. Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter (OTC)  medicines are available at most pharmacies.
  • Alleviate your child’s fears: Reassure your youngster that this ailment is harmless and will pass quickly. This can assist to reduce worry and allow the kid to relax, allowing the discomfort to subside more quickly.

When to see a Doctor? 

If your child’s sudden chest discomfort subsides within a few minutes and isn’t accompanied by any other symptoms, contact your doctor or schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

This is most likely PCS, which is not life-threatening and does not need medical care right now.

Call your doctor or seek medical treatment if your kid has an underlying heart problem or develops additional symptoms in addition to acute chest pains.

Similarly, if the severe pain in your chest persists for more than a few minutes without alleviation, visit a doctor, since it might be caused by anything other than PCS.

Prepare answers to the following questions before seeing your doctor:

  • When did the symptoms first appear?
  • How long did the pain last?
  • What was it like to be in pain?
  • What other symptoms did it cause (if any)?
  • How often have you had these symptoms?

It may be helpful for parents to pose these questions to their children in the moment or on the way to the doctor, and to record their responses to share with the doctor.

If you or your kid has chest discomfort and any of the following symptoms, go to the hospital immediately.

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Shortness of breath to the point of exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes


Relax, knowing that the discomfort is entirely safe and does not require any therapy. By their early to mid-thirties, most persons with precordial catch syndrome have outgrown it.

Pain attacks generally fade as people get older. Some people have discovered that taking a deep breath will help it go away, although this may come at the expense of a sharper, shorter stab. Most people prefer to take short breaths until the pain subsides.

It’s probable that improving your sitting position and taking a few deep breaths can help you avoid it.

If the pain worsens or new symptoms appear, see your doctor.