Causes for Upper Right Chest and Neck Pain

There are numerous causes of upper right chest and neck pain. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, many people with chest and neck pain fear a heart attack, although there are many other possible causes of discomfort in these areas. The NIH states that any organ or tissue in or around the chest can generate pain. Some types of chest and neck pain are caused by broken bones, nerve injuries or anatomical factors.

Fractured Collarbone

A fractured collarbone, or clavicle, can cause upper right chest and neck pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS, the collarbone helps link the arm to the body. The collarbone is a long, thin bone that overlies several important structures, including nerves and blood vessels traveling toward the upper extremity. When the collarbone fractures, states the AAOS, it usually breaks in the middle section. Common signs and symptoms associated with a fractured collarbone include the following: chest, neck and shoulder pain, a sagging shoulder on the affected side, an inability to lift the arm due to pain, a grinding sensation with shoulder movement, an observable deformity at the fracture site and swelling, tenderness and bruising around the collarbone. According to the AAOS, a fractured collarbone is a common injury among children and athletes.

Brachial Plexus Injury

A brachial plexus injury can cause upper right chest and neck pain. The Mayo Clinic website states that the brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends signals from the spinal cord to the upper extremity. A brachial plexus injury occurs when this group of nerves is overstretched or torn. The most common cause of a brachial plexus injury involves forceful shoulder depression or downward motion while the head is pushed up and away toward the opposite shoulder. According to the Mayo Clinic website, brachial plexus injuries are common in contact sports, such as football and rugby, although they can also occur during with vehicle accidents, falls and tumors. Possible signs and symptoms associated with a brachial plexus injury include the following: a shock-like or burning sensation in the arm on the affected side, numbness and weakness in the arm and muscle impairment in the arm or the hand.

Cervical Rib

A cervical rib may cause upper right chest and neck pain. According to the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma--a sports medicine research, training and clinical service facility--some people are born with an extra rib. This rib is usually situated above the first rib, and it is known as a cervical rib because of its presence in the cervical spine or neck. Several important nerves, blood vessels and muscles are located close to the extra rib. Tight neck muscles, in conjunction with the extra rib, can compress the nerves and blood vessels passing through this area as these structures travel toward the upper extremity. Blood vessels, in particular, may be compressed, causing deep, boring pain in the neck, upper chest and shoulder region on the affected side. Other common signs and symptoms associated with blood vessel impingement by a cervical rib include swelling in the arm and hand, bluish discoloration of the hand and sensations of heaviness in the arm and hand.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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