Precordial Catch Syndrome in Children and Adults

A Harmless Yet Sharp Chest Pain

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Precordial catch syndrome, also known as Texidor’s twinge, is a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest. It comes on quickly and without warning, and may feel like sharp pains near the heart or a quick pain in the chest.

Experiencing precordial catch syndrome can be painful and frightening, but it’s benign and doesn’t indicate a heart or lung condition. Instead, it may be caused by a pinched nerve in the chest.

Continue reading to learn more about precordial chest pain, including what to do if you experience it and how to tell whether it’s caused by something more serious. 

Woman having chest pain

Chest pain can be a sign of a medical emergency like a heart attack. When in doubt, always seek immediate medical care, especially if your chest pain happens after physical activity, or is accompanied by changes to breathing, pulse, or cognition.

Precordial Catch Syndrome Is Not a Medical Emergency

Experiencing pain in your chest, especially on the left side, can immediately make you think you’re having a heart attack. However, precordial catch syndrome has nothing to do with the heart or lungs. 

Instead, researchers believe that precordial catch syndrome happens when nerves become pinched or irritated. This sometimes occurs due to muscle spasms, but the cause isn’t always clear. Because precordial catch syndrome is caused by nerve pain and muscle movement, it’s more similar to costochondritis, a condition that causes chest pain when the cartilage between the ribs becomes inflamed.

Symptoms of Precordial Catch Syndrome

The primary symptom of precordial catch syndrome is chest pain. The pain caused by this condition is usually:

  • Localized to one area of the intercostal spaces (the muscles of the chest)
  • Stabbing or shooting
  • Able to resolve on its own, often within seconds or minutes
  • Able to respond to changes in position or deep breaths

The pain isn’t accompanied by any other symptoms or pain elsewhere.

Precordial Catch Syndrome vs. Heart Attack

It can be very scary to think you’re having a heart attack. In turn, that stress can make chest pain worse, so it’s important to understand the difference between precordial catch syndrome and a heart attack. 

In children, who are most likely to experience precordial catch syndrome, most chest pain is not caused by a heart attack. In adults, chest pain can indicate a heart attack, but precordial catch syndrome and heart attack symptoms are quite different. They even have different types of pain. 

When asked to point to where they have pain, people experiencing a heart attack often place a flat palm over their chest. This is because heart attacks cause widespread pain and tightness throughout the chest. On the other hand, people with precordial catch syndrome often point to a specific location. This localized pain is a flagship sign of precordial catch syndrome.

Precordial catch syndrome has no other symptoms besides pain. Heart attacks, however, are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain that radiates out of the heart and extends through the upper body
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Changes to heart beat
  • Light-headedness
  • Blue tinges to the hands or feet

Why Does Precordial Catch Syndrome Happen?

Although the exact cause of precordial catch syndrome is unclear, the medical community believes it is due to pinched or irritated nerves. This can happen because of muscle spasms in the chest. 

Some people have only one episode, while others have multiple episodes each day. Many people experience precordial catch syndrome in their teenage years but outgrow it by their mid 20s, and doctors aren’t sure why.

Precordial Catch Syndrome Triggers and Risk Factors

Researchers are still working to better understand precordial catch syndrome. They have found some triggers and risk factors that may contribute to experiencing this pain. These factors include being in your late teens or early 20s and sitting in a slouched position. However, adults can experience the syndrome too, and it can occur anytime.

Is Precordial Catch Syndrome Treatable?

Since precordial catch syndrome isn’t dangerous, it doesn’t require treatment. However, when the pain strikes, you can try changing positions. You can also try taking slow, deep breaths. For some people this helps alleviate the pain, but for others it makes the pain worse. 

Seeking Medical Care

If you experience only occasional episodes of pain, you don’t need to see a healthcare provider. However, you should seek medical advice if your pain changes, doesn’t resolve easily, or becomes so frequent that it interferes with your daily activities. 

Always seek immediate medical care if you think you may be having a heart attack or if you have other heart attack symptoms. In addition, seek medical care if you or your child has other health concerns, like high cholesterol or heart disease, along with chest pain.


Precordial catch syndrome causes sudden, severe and short-term pain in the chest. It’s not related to the heart. Healthcare providers believe a pinched or irritated nerve causes it. The condition happens most often in the late teenage years but can also occur in kids and adults.

Precordial catch syndrome doesn’t require treatment, but you should see a medical professional if you have any concerning symptoms like widespread chest pain or pain with changes to your pulse or breathing. 

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kumar, Narendra, Rachna Pasi, Swathi Chacham, and Prashant Kumar Verma. Texidor’s twinge a rare cause of benign paroxysmal chest pain. Heart, Vessels and Transplantation. 2020. doi: 10.24969/hvt.2020.236

  2. Renno M, Thomas T. Chest pain in children: Common causes & when to be concerned. Healthy Children.

  3. UWSP University Health Service. Precordial catch syndrome.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart attack symptoms, risk, and recovery.

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.