Pleuritic Chest Pain Causes and Symptoms: Natural Ways to Relieve Pain

The pain arising due to inflammation of pleura is called pleuritic chest pain. Pleura is a medical name of the membrane surrounding lungs. It is made up of two layers; the inner membrane acts as a protective layer while the outer layer surrounds the chest cavity. When these two layers of pleura rub against each other instead of gliding, it causes pleuritic chest pain.

Respiratory diseases or injury to pleura and lungs is the main reason for pleuritic pain. It is sharp and stabbing pain. Pain gets exacerbated when a person coughs or breathes deeply.

Below are given the causes of pleuritic pain.

Causes of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Normally, between the two layers of pleura, there is thin film of fluid. It keeps the space between two layers well lubricated. This allows the membranes to glide against each other, during breathing. However, due to inflammation and irritation the fluid gets displaced. The membranes rub against one another instead of gliding giving rise to pleuritic pain.

Several reasons are known to cause pleuritic pain. Viral infection is most common reason for this type of pain. However, there are several other factors.

  • Pneumonia causes consolidation of lung tissue. Bacteria and virus both can cause pneumonia. It can cause pleuritic pain.
  • Pleuritic pain is also associated with tuberculosis.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and sarcoidosis can also give rise to pleural irritation and pain in pleura.
  • Chest injuries, rib fracture, can irritate the pleural membrane leading to pleural pain.
  • Disorders of contiguous structures: esophageal rupture, liver abscess, diaphragmatic hernia, pancreatitis.
  • Lung malignancy, superior vena cava obstruction.
  • Reaction to certain drugs used for tuberculosis, cancer, or immune disorder.
  • Post radiation therapy.
  • Uremia.

Common Signs and Symptoms

There is sudden shooting and stabbing chest pain in the region of chest. Pain is always aggravated while breathing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, and yawning. In its milder form, pleuritic pain may imitate like a cramp. There may be associated symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing difficulty of the underlying disease.

Due to pleural pain, the movement of affected side of chest is reduced. While auscultation the physician is able to hear typical friction sound over the affected region. The sound is similar as that of rubbing between papers. The sound disappears when pleural surface separate as a result of collection of more fluid. Many times, pleuritic pain may reappear in the resolving stage.

How to Relieve Pleuritic Pain

  • Treating the underlying cause is important to reduce pleuritic pain. If it is viral infection, it may take few days to resolve the pain on its own. If it is bacterial infection physicians recommend antibiotics to treat the cause.
  • In case of tuberculosis, patient is prescribed anti tuberculosis medication.
  • Anti inflammatory medications are also beneficial at times.
  • It is necessary to relieve cough as it is one of the triggering factors for pain. Cough suppressants are given.
  • Pleuritic pain is often a common feature in lung cancer. When the pain is unbearable, the doctor seals the space between two sides of pleura with some medication. The procedure is known as Pleurodesis.
  • Combination of alternative therapy and main line treatment is beneficial in many cases. Acupuncture is one such alternative method.
  • Applying hot compresses also helps to reduce pleuritic pain of short duration.


  1. AP said:

    I have been experiencing chest pain for the last one week. It feels like muscular pain. It gets worse when I am stressed. I am unable to lift weights. What could the problem be?

    January 23, 2013
    • PUP said:

      To answer your question I may require some more information. What is your age? Do you smoke? Do you suffer from any other ailments such as diabetes, hypertension etc. Considering that you do not have any other diseases and if you are below the age of 40, the problem is more likely to be due to intercostal myalgia. It is a medical term used for what we refer as muscular pain. However, never neglect anytype of chest pain. Consult your doctor. Meanwhile for temporary relief you can do hot water fomentation. Apply pain relieving balm. Eat a pinch of turmeric powder mixed in 1 teaspoon of honey. The anti inflammatory action of turmeric will help to reduce pain and spasm of muscles between the ribs.

      January 23, 2013
  2. Bernadeth Joy said:

    How to treat over pleural thickening. What are the foods and drinks that should be avoided if the person has pleural thickening.

    September 12, 2014
    • PUP said:

      Pleural thickening is a lung condition where the pleura become thick due to scarring or calcification. Pleura is the lining surrounding the lung. It can occur due to many reasons such as bacterial lung infection, asbestosis, cancer of lung, tuberculosis, etc. There is no specific diet that may help to reduce pleural thickening, however, restricting certain foods and drinks may help to reduce its aggravation and pain. Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, smoking, tobacco in any form, spicy and oily food. Foods that aggravate cough should particularly be avoided.

      September 15, 2014

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