Chest Pain in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Chest pain is not always a sign that something is wrong with your child's heart or that your child has another serious problem. Chest pain can be caused by strained muscles or ligaments, inflamed chest cartilage, or another problem in your child's chest, rather than by the heart.

Your child may need more tests to find the cause of the chest pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Help your child rest and protect the sore area.
  • Have your child stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing the pain or soreness.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • After 2 or 3 days, apply a warm cloth to the area that hurts. Some doctors suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold.
  • Do not wrap or tape your child's ribs for support. This may cause your child to take smaller breaths, which could increase the risk of lung problems.
  • Help your child follow your doctor's instructions for exercising.
  • Gentle stretching and massage may help your child get better faster. Have your child stretch slowly to the point just before pain begins, and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Do this 3 or 4 times a day, just after you have applied heat.
  • As your child's pain gets better, have him or her slowly return to normal activities. Any increased pain may be a sign that your child needs to rest a while longer.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has any trouble breathing.
  • Your child's chest pain gets worse.
  • Your child's chest pain occurs consistently with exercise and is relieved by rest.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 27, 2016